Even now, some two months on, the thought of her winning goal against Spurs during a special evening for the West Ham Ladies at Upton Park, still brings a huge smile to Katie Bottom’s face.
In fact it took weeks before the defender was able to go a whole day without someone mentioning that extraordinary night in front of record crowd of 1,741 at the Boleyn Ground. Just talking about that evening, you can see how much it meant to the captain as well as all her teammates, who are all focused on ensuring the club enjoys plenty of highs next season.
The hard work, Bottom says, has already begun with the Ladies still training once a week to ensure they keep ‘ticking over’ before their pre-season training kicks into full swing this summer. ‘It was an unbelievable night at Upton Park and was the biggest achievement for me as a footballer,’ Bottom told Blowing Bubbles. ‘Just talking about it now is making me smile. Scoring was the icing on the cake of the whole day.
‘It could have been any one of us to have scored the winning goal and taken the penalty. The manager (Marc Nurse) said before the game that I was on penalty duty and when it happened, I thought to myself “this is it, my chance to make history”. ‘The ‘keeper in goal for Spurs was Toni-Anne Wayne who used to play at West Ham and I thought she would know where I would place my penalty.
‘I’d also taken a penalty against her during our shootout in the Capital Women’s Cup so, yeah, I was nervous about missing but as soon as I took it, I knew it was going in. ‘The support we had that evening was unbelievable too. It was great to see so many West Ham fans come out. For the girls, it was great to be playing at a Premier League ground that had seen European football this season. The fact that it is the final season at the Boleyn made it even more special. This is something that no-one can take away from us.’
Confirming she is staying on for another season with the Ladies, Bottom hopes to be appointed captain once more. ‘I really enjoyed being captain this year, and I hope I’ll be captain again but that’s down to Marc,’ she continued.
‘I always try to play to my very best every time I play but as captain, I knew I needed to be a leader on the pitch as well. ‘I’m not the loudest captain so I wanted to lead the team by my football, show the leadership they needed through my performances.’ Bottom was made captain following the departure of Stacey Little as well as few other senior players and the results for the majority of the season reflected the journey the club went on.
‘We didn’t really want the negative start to the season that we had, but we came through it and I think we are in much better place now. ‘Our performances towards the end of the season were great. We grounded out a good result against Spurs at Upton Park and then drew at Cardiff . ‘As the season went on, there was a greater sense of togetherness in the team, and I felt we played for each other more than we did at the start of the season.
‘Once we’d settled a bit more following our negative start, we knew we weren’t going to be challenging at the top of the league but we knew we would be safe from relegation. Th is gave us the chance to grow as a team, work on our togetherness and try out new formations.’
Bottom added: ‘I think most of the girls who came in have done an excellent job for us – as have the players who stayed on. We’ve all worked hard on our individual jobs. ‘Now we’re still training once a week to help keep us ticking over, and from conversations I’ve had with the rest of the squad, the vast majority will be staying for next season. ‘Th ere will be some that go but that’s not because of the players or manager, it’s something they’d already planned to do for one reason or another.’
She concluded: ‘We are going on a pre-season tour to Holland this summer and I’m hoping we can all get a solid pre-season and get off to a good start next season. ‘All the girls don’t want a repeat of the start we made last season. To an extent it will depend on who we get but there are no easy games in our league. Th ere are games, however, where would fancy our chances more than others.’