New West Ham Ladies captain Katie Bottom has called on the Hammers to continue to fight for each other after one of the most difficult months in the club’s history. The departure of six senior players – including captain Stacey Little – at the start of the month followed by a heavy 8-1 defeat against title-chasing Charlton Athletic was hard for the Ladies to take.
But the Hammers consolidated, re-grouped and fought back towards the end of the month with a draw away at Lewes before beating the South Coast side at home on October 25. Those four points helped to lift the Ladies up to ninth and within striking distance of the group in front – much to the delight of midfielder Bottom. But with their next two games scheduled to be against Brighton and Hove Albion, who topped the FA Women’s Premier League Southern Division at the end of last month, November promises to be equally as tough on the pitch.
‘We were very pleased to pick up four points in our two games against Lewes,’ the Ladies’ skipper told Blowing Bubbles. ‘You could say the results should’ve been the other way round or even that we could’ve lost the home game as we rode our luck during that win. ‘But there was plenty of fight around the team for both games and everyone was fighting for each other.
‘The performances weren’t what we expected or where we wanted them to be but there were plenty of positives to take.’ With the likes of Stacey Little, Kelley Blanchflower, and Emma Sherwood leaving the club, members of the club’s development squad have found themselves in the first team – something Bottom can relate to. ‘With the new set of players we have in the squad now, it will take time for us to get to know one another,’ she continued. ‘I can remember what it was like when I made the step up from the development squad to the first team four years ago so I can understand what they must be going through.
It was more physical and the pace was a lot quicker but when I broke into the team, I was given a few minutes here and there as I adjusted to it but some of the girls in our team now have come in and played the whole game.’ As for the departure of six senior players last month, she added: “It was very difficult for me because I was very close to the girls that left. ‘There’s only myself and Danica still here from last year and Danica’s injured at the moment and not about so it was very tough.
Stacey was a massive loss and I still keep in touch with her as well as Kelley. ‘There’s no grudge from my point of view. We still get along and I wish them the best of luck with whatever they chose to do next.’ Bottom has played for West Ham for 11 years, having joined the club as a 12 year old so she was delighted to have been appointed club captain.
‘I’m a West Ham fan so to be the captain of the Ladies is a huge honour for me. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,’ she said. ‘I didn’t enjoy the best start to my captaincy with our defeat against Charlton. We knew it was going to be tough but there was no expectation on us to come away with anything after everything that happened that week. ‘Once we finished the game, and that week, it was very much a case of us saying to one another to forget what had happened and start a new chapter.’
As for Bottom’s expectations for the coming weeks and months ahead, she added: ‘At the moment we are in our own mini-league at the bottom of our league so although we will be trying to get points off Brighton and Hove this month, we looking more at making sure we pick up maximum points from those teams around us. Having said that, QPR have beaten Brighton and they are below us so we know it can be done.
‘We just need to keep focusing on doing the right things and taking the positives out of each game. We’re very much taking it week by week. We’ve been improving with every training session and we will keep working hard to make sure we can challenge every team in this league.’