After watching West Ham Ladies captain Stacey Little lift the Essex County Cup at the end of last season, Vicky Kinsman knew she wanted to re-join the Hammers.
The forward had been playing against West Ham for the Barking Ladies and despite her best efforts, watched on helplessly as her team were comfortably swept aside 5-1 at AFC Hornchurch’s stadium. But Kinsman knew the step up to the Women’s Premier League Southern Division was going to be tough so she spent the summer going to the gym almost daily to ensure she was ready for the Ladies’ trials – a commitment she says she is still reaping the benefits of.
‘I knew some of the girls from when I played for West Ham 10 years ago but I was really nervous at the trials because I wasn’t sure I was going to get in but Julian [Dicks] seemed to like me and I’ve played every game, which has been more than I could have ever hoped for,’ she said.
‘I always felt that I could still do a job in this league and make the step up to West Ham from Barking and thanks to the work I put in before pre-season started, I feel as fit as I’ve ever been and I feel like I’ve done well so far this season. ‘I’ve managed to score a couple of goals but I know my role in this team is to hold the ball up and get others involved. I’m good in the air and I think I’ve got a good work rate and put the effort in to track back and put tackles in.”
She added: ‘I’ve just been enjoying my football – even though I’ve picked up a few more knocks in this league than I’ve been used to for a few years.’ Kinsman admitted the Ladies have been inconsistent so far this campaign with wins against QPR, Lewes and Plymouth mixed with defeats to Tottenham Hotspur, Copsewood and Portsmouth.
But after beating Spurs 2-0 earlier this month, she is now setting her sights on a top three finish. ‘It was a brilliant result and performance for us,’ she continued. ‘We were quality from start to finish and I enjoyed every minute of it because we dominated from the start. “You could see Spurs were getting more and more frustrated that things weren’t going their way, especially just before half-time because we really were on top on them.
‘To be honest we could have scored more and our performance certainly warranted a bigger scoreline because everyone put in 100 per cent and after the game, the manager said he couldn’t fault our work rate. We were very unlucky when they beat us at home at the start of the season so to go to their ground and dominate from start to finish was great.’
Kinsman says the club can still achieve their top three target but admits the ladies need to become a lot more consistent. ‘If we put in more performances like we the one we put in against Spurs game, we can finish in the top three for sure. ‘In some of our other games we’ve only been playing well for half a game but against Spurs we were firing right from the off.’
As for her evolving partnership with Emma Sherwood, another summer signing by the club, she said: ‘I think we’ve formed a good partnership already. ‘We’re both new so as well as learning each other’s game, we’ve had to work hard to learn about the rest of the team as well. ‘It was always going to be hard at the start but we work well together. She has this flick which always seems to find me and she’s great at anticipating my flick-ons in the air and running onto them.”
Asked about her memories of playing in last season’s cup final against West Ham, she replied: ‘I always knew we were the underdogs going into the game but we knew they hadn’t enjoyed a good season. ‘I felt we gave them a good game and I think the scoreline flattered them a bit.’