Yeovil Town Ladies director Stephen Allinson spoke to BBC Somerset presenter Simon Parkin as part of his Saturday Breakfast show, on Saturday 15th November 2014, after Yeovil Town Ladies had been given the FA WSL2 Team Of The Year award at an evening event in London.
SP: Morning to you Stephen! What time did you go to bed?
SA: Good morning, Simon! I think it was about 2.30 this morning!
SP: I bet you were thrilled when our text came through!
SA: I was indeed! No, I'm always happy to speak to you and it's nice to be able to share the award and the news of it with all your listeners.
SP: So tell us what you won.
SA: Well we've been named as one of two FA Women's Super League Clubs of the Year. We were nominated and shortlisted. There were only two clubs shortlisted out of the whole eighteen, so that was fantastic for a start. We were shortlisted with Liverpool, who actually are the Champions of the Super League. We obviously thought it was fantastic to be shortlisted, and obviously Liverpool started as favourites. Then they announced that with both clubs, the judges couldn't split them, and so they decided that they had to make two awards - one for Super League 1 and Liverpool, and one for Super League 2, which is ourselves. We really did consider that to be a fantastic honour that we'd effectively been named along with Liverpool.
SP: And also, you've only been in Super League 2 for one season. That's terrific, isn't it?
SA: It is - absolutely. We actually think we've done better than Liverpool, because they've been in it a lot longer. But absolutely - our rise from playing Somerset girls' football and then moving up has been fantastic. The challenge now is to keep it going of course.
SP: How do you do that? How do you keep the momentum up?
SA: Well we obviously think that we've built this club on a solid base. We've always made sure that we're financially secure. We've developed from within, and we promote some of our girls to senior management positions. Our captain has just retired this year - Rachael Edwards - who has been a great stalwart of the club, and we've appointed her to the board now. So I think continuity is the important thing and that's certainly what we'll be trying to put forward for next year.
SP: You've kind of been helped by the fact that people seem to be getting more behind women's football. It sort of started around the time of the Olympics, but the BBC are now covering some matches and there is a focus upon reflecting this important aspect of the game.
SA: I think that's absolutely right. It's certainly one of, if not the fastest growing participatory sports at the moment. To see last night, the number of people that were there and talking about it was great. I very cheekily went over to BBC Radio 5 Live at the end and said that hopefully we'd get some sports coverage down in Yeovil for the Ladies games. They were there along with other sponsors and media partners. As you say, the success of the England Ladies team obviously helps, but it's fantastic to see that it's a game that's really taken off now.
SP: So what's next? Where do you go from here?
SA: We were discussing that last night with our manager. I said to Jamie Sherwood, who is our manager, next season we've got to make sure we finish fourth or above, and he accepted that challenge, and the plan in the next two or three years is to try to get promotion to Super League 1, which is the top ten clubs in the whole of the country - the Arsenals and the Liverpools and the Chelseas - and we set ourselves that challenge.
SP: Well we keep our fingers crossed that it all goes to plan, and it's a very interesting week to be reflecting the the fact that it's all going well for women's football. Of course this week we had the announcement that a woman had been nominated for FIFA Goal of the Year - Stephanie Roche.
SA: Absolutely, and that again shows the quality of the game. Seeing some of the showcase moments yesterday (on video at the awards evening) showed that as well. It was fantastic, and I'd obviously like to thank the FA and thank all of our sponsors for what they've done at the moment to support us, because without them we couldn't move forward. It was a great time to say thank you to them last night as well.
SP: Well we thank you for getting up for us this morning. What's the plan now - back to bed?
SA: A nice gentle breakfast actually - probably nothing cooked! Actually what I might have to do is to track down my General Manager and First Team Manager, who were last seen in the West End at an ungodly hour!
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