West Ham Ladies captain Stacey Little has spoken of her disappointment and anger following the Hammers heavy defeat in London Capital Cup final earlier this month. But the midfielder maintains there have been plenty of positives to take from Julian Dicks’ first season in charge.
‘Compared to how we ended our last campaign, we can’t moan too much about this season,’ Little said. ‘We were second from bottom last season but this season we’ve finished mid-table. ‘That’s not to say it’s not been a frustrating season. We’ve been so inconsistent at times and this season has really been a season of highs and lows .
‘We’ve had some really good results – we drew against Brighton, drew twice in the league against Charlton and beat Cardiff twice as well as Spurs but it’s been the teams below us which we’ve seemed to struggle against. ‘If we had picked up points against these teams we would have been much higher in the league.’ The 27-year-old pointed out a number of facts that demonstrated the side were making progress and paid tribute to the impact the manager has had on the team.
‘One positive that instantly springs to mind from this season has been that, before our final game of the season at Portsmouth, no team had done the double over us,’ she added. ‘It’s been a positive that we managed to get to a cup final and it could’ve been two finals had the Essex Cup situation not happened.’ ‘Julian [Dicks] has also been a massive positive for us this season. The manager last season left us half way through the season but Julian has come in and been fully committed. He has been a breath of fresh air and has raised the profile of the Ladies team.’
Little reflected on a number of highlights from throughout the season, insisting the games against QPR and Cardiff were particularly memorable. ‘I think the Cardiff game away sticks in my mind from this season because we were going there expecting it was going to be tough but the way we fought for each other was amazing.
We were one nil up for quite a while before they equalised and then we went onto score and win. ‘Our game against QPR, our first game of the season, was also a highlight. Usually it would be us conceding late goals and there is no better feeling than being on top and getting a late goal to win the game.’ She added: ‘We’ve had a massive say in who wins the league this season. Cardiff felt like they had a chance before we beat them, Charlton probably fancied themselves too before we got a draw with them.
‘It feels good because I can remember when it used to happen to us too.’ Looking ahead to next season and Little believes a host of new players are needed to help the Ladies push onto the next level. We need new blood next season,’ she continued. ‘There were times this season where we had a few injuries and we were really crying out for more strength in depth.
‘We also had a few players who weren’t performing and without strength in depth, people do become complacent. ‘I don’t know much about the set ups at Spurs and Portsmouth but I know Charlton and Brighton have a lot more money going into them than we do. ‘We need to be able to offer new players a good deal. Even if it’s just expenses.
‘Hopefully new chairmen coming in might help to change that with new and more sponsors. Charlton have won three trophies this season – money talks. It really does.’ Finally, reflecting on the London Capital Cup final, which the Hammers lost 5-0, Little concluded: ‘We’ve played Charlton three times this season and got two draws so we knew about their key players.
‘There were some of our players who played well but there were others who just didn’t turn up on the day, which was very hard to take. ‘We hadn’t been playing well in the games leading up to the final but we’ve got results against top teams because we’ve fought hard but we didn’t do that against Charlton.’