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Women's Football News
In a special edition of our We Talk To feature, our interviewee is Nicki O'Connell, who recently announced her retirement from football after a long career with Larkhall Athletic.
We ask her about her career and the reaction to the news with the popular player affectionately known as ‘Ginge':
WSS: Nicki, when was it that you decided that this would be your last season?
NO: I have been thinking about it for a number of seasons now and that it was time for me to hand the gloves to someone else, but it was only in January of this year that I decided it would be my last season and spoke with the manager to let him know.
WSS: How long is it that you have been playing women's football, and how long have you been at Larkhall?
NO: I've been playing football since I was seven, but specifically in women's football since the age of 12. I have been at Larkhall for 19 seasons, so a long old time!
WSS: Larkhall ended the season with a six-match unbeaten run and finished in sixth place, do you think that the team will be in good shape for next season?
NO: We had as you say a really good end to the season, showing what we really are about and how good we can be. I think that if the girls can continue to play like that then they will definitely be in good shape for next season. We played a number of games this year without players being available and suffering long term injuries, so I am really proud of how we all stuck together and got the results.
WSS: Can you believe the reaction to the news that you are retiring, for example being given a guard of honour by Cheltenham in your last match?
NO: I have been surprised at the reaction and the people that have contacted me wishing me well, but I think they also understand why I am doing it now. As for the Iast game, I was really overwhelmed by the whole day from being asked to be captain through to having the guard of honour and I can only thank Cheltenham for doing that. It was all extremely appreciated and definitely gave me a game and occasion to remember.
WSS: So what were the main highlights from your career?
NO: In all honesty there are probably too many to mention as I have been at this club for so long, but definitely up there would be winning the FA Award last year, winning the league and being promoted to where we are now, winning the Somerset County Cup and of course beating Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup [in the Fourth Round on penalties in 2012].
WSS: Who would you say were among the best players that you played alongside?
NO: There are so many that I couldn't possibly list them all, each and every player that has been at the club whilst I have has had an impact and contributed in their own way.
WSS: The club responded to your announcement by arranging a testimonial match a few weeks ago when a lot of your old team mates came back to play, some even coming out of retirement. How much did you enjoy that occasion - and dare we mention a certain penalty?
NO: That was a brilliant occasion and I have to thank Amy Scrivens for arranging the match as she did. Having so many people from past and present all come together for it was amazing. I also had no idea what was happening and only found out on arriving at the ground so again it was another overwhelming night which I will never forget. As for the penalty - I think I felt guilty for the way it was awarded so couldn't possibly have scored it!!
WSS: Looking to the future, will you be staying in the women's game in any capacity?
NO: At the moment I haven't really thought about that. Although I have retired from Larkhall, the option of playing would still be tempting but perhaps at a lower, more local level.
WSS: When you look at the women's game now, and when you started playing in the senior game, just how different is it these days?
NO: The game and whole set up of women's football is so different with the level of professionalism and opportunities for females wanting to play. I wish I was a few years younger so that I could have had the opportunities that are available now.
Happy retirement to our great friend Nicki (Ginge)!
Photo - Will Cheshire
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