International Surrey Women’s Football captain Emily Stanley played the full 90 minutes as we ran out 8-1 winners over Surrey University in our first-ever match on Saturday 24 April.
In the first instalment of this brand-new feature, we catch up with Emily to learn more about her background, get the lowdown on wearing the ISF captain’s armband and see what she made of that big debut win.
Tell us a bit about yourself!
“I currently work in finance and have done since I was 19. I am about to move into a new role working in investment banking, so it’s a massive change to my current complaints handling job! Other than working and playing for ISF, I also play for Dorking Wanderers as a CM.”
What are your personal goals in football?
“To be happy and always give 110% when I’m on the pitch. Whilst I’d love to say I want to be a professional footballer, I’m a bit past that stage in my career!”
How did you get involved with ISF?
“I’ve always wanted to play for Surrey but there was never a senior level team for us, when ISF was announced (back in 2019!) I immediately emailed John to sign up. Originally, the trials were May 2019, so it’s been a long time coming, but it was definitely worth the wait. Danny has always been great at keeping players updated, especially with COVID putting a pause on things again, so whilst it’s been ages, it’s been handled really well.”
Tell us about how you were made captain?
“I had been speaking with Danny [Clarke] ahead of our first game against Surrey Uni via email and he emailed me to say that the coaches had made me captain! I was completely shocked as the first training session I was a little bit rusty but I’m so thankful for the opportunity and I’m looking forward to helping create a major platform for female footballers in Surrey with the help of ISF and the team.”
You only had a limited number of training sessions ahead of the friendly against Surrey University. How did they go?
“They were great, I was only able to attend the first session but the players were fantastic. There was a great atmosphere, even though we didn’t all know each other. The session in place was so well structured which really impressed me, there wasn’t any standing around which can happen at trialist training sessions, so it was a brilliant start. I heard the second session was just as good, with even more players in attendance!”
What’s the biggest challenge when you’re a new team just starting out?
“I think the biggest challenge is getting players on board, I know that some clubs aren’t totally keen on the idea of their players being with another team but ISF are a separate entity, with brilliant coaches and the opportunity for players to really improve, work with other players and develop beyond club levels. It’s something that I’m sure will get better as our name gets out there more but, it’s definitely a challenge for now!”
We had a great win over Surrey University. What did you make of the game?
“I was so impressed by the players during our first game, I hadn’t met everyone who played in the game so initially I was worried it would be difficult to get into a playing system that accommodated for everyone but boy, was I wrong! Everyone gave 100%, there was so much encouragement from each player and the football being played was unreal. You’d never have thought it was our first ever game, the combination play and effortlessness of it all was great to be a part of.”
What impressed you the most?
“Definitely the style of play! I didn’t expect the team to naturally play so well together, there was no real “hit and hope” football which you can sometimes get when you throw a bunch of individual players together. We played as a team, moving the ball between us so easily, it was as if we’d been a team for years!”
You had another big game for Dorking the very next day – how did that go? The legs must have been heavy by Sunday evening!
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t in pain Sunday evening! We played Leyton Orient Reserves the next day and came away with a 3 – 2 win in the Capital Cup, we’re now into the semi-finals which is great as a shot at silverware would be amazing after another null and void season. It was such a competitive game and I made up for missing a 1v1 on Saturday by getting a goal on Sunday. Overall, it was great weekend of football for me!”
Photo credit: Sheena Booker