Rainham School for Girls miss out on winning the cup after penalty shoot-out defeat
In Gillingham Football Club’s first appearance at Wembley in a Community Cup National Final the outcome was reminiscent of the club’s very first trip to Wembley back in 1999, with the winners having to be decided by a dreaded penalty shoot-out.
The National Final of The npower Football League Girls Cup between Rainham School for Girls and Allstree Woodlands School, representing Derby County, took place on the pitch before the final of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy between Crewe Alexandra and Southend.
For full information regarding the build up to the Final please click here.
The sun shone on Wembley as the team and teachers arrived at their hotel on Saturday afternoon and checked in, they were full of energy and after a quick catch up they settled in to their rooms.
With the ground tour taking place in the morning the girls had some free time to relax and catch up on the football scores, and of course the promotion for the Gills, before heading out for some much needed nourishment and then back to the hotel for an early night.
The next morning the girls were up bright and early for breakfast before being collected by Andy and Amanda from the Football League. Both teams then made the short walk to Wembley Stadium, with stops along the way for photos.
As the teams walked up Wembley Way, past the statue of Bobby Moore, they entered the stadium through the players’ entrance the realisation of what lay ahead started to set in.
The teams were shown to their dressing room, before being allowed in to the Crewe dressing room for a sneaky look around, prior to making their way on to the pitch via the tunnel.
The girls then had the opportunity to take in the grandeur and vastness of the stadium as they walked around the edge of the pitch, stepped in to the dug outs and up to the Royal Box where they couldn’t resist pretending to lift a cup.
It was then back to their dressing room to get changed and prepare for the task ahead, during which time they were handed their official team sheets and letter of good luck from England International Steph Houghton.
The girls changed into their new npower kit, warmed up and went through tactics and formations for the game before being briefed by their referee, Marvyn Amphlett.
As the nerves and butterflies set in the teams stepped out of the dressing room and made their way to the tunnel. As the music started Captain Millie Waud lead the way as the girls walked out on to the pitch and on to the big screen to the cheers and screams of their family and friends before each player was announced to the crowd.
The teams then shook hands and had one last quick warm-up. The referee then blew the whistle and the game was underway, it was close from the start with both teams attacking the opposing goal but for the first half neither team could quite create the opener.
After a quick team talk at half-time both teams were back at it, with Derby coming the closet to scoring when they twice hit the post but again neither team could grab the winner.
As the seconds ticked down the possibility of the dreaded shoot-out grew closer and as the final whistle sounded penalty takers would need to be decided.
There would be three penalties taken and if the scores were level after three it would go to sudden death. Waud, Charlie Hudson and Miriael Taylor were the brave three who volunteered to take the penalties and Waud was up first.
As a heartbeat sounded over the speakers she stepped up to the penalty spot, the crowd grew silent and Waud strike it down the middle and into the arms of the goalkeeper, Derby then squeezed their first past goalkeeper Keisha Lemar.
Hudson stepped up next and placed a beautiful shot wide and it looked to be going in but the Derby keeper pulled off a brilliant save to deny her effort. Lemar then matched the save with her own to keep the score at 1-0 to Derby.
Taylor then calmly stepped up and slotted her low effort past the keeper to keep the team in with a shout. Derby’s last taker stepped up and placed her shot high in the corner, Lemar got a hand to it but could only push it into the top corner and the winners were decided.
As Derby celebrated the girls couldn’t hold back their tears as they walked up to the Royal Box to the cheers and support of all those in attendance and collected their Runners-up trophy and medals, before returning to the dressing room. The tears slowly subdued as everyone railed round to lift their spirits and once the girls were changed, they headed back out to the stadium to their seats and the open arms of their families and friends.
Thank you to npower and the Football League for a fantastic competition and weekend and to the team from Allstree Woodlands School, their teachers and the staff from Derby County who were gracious in their win.
The biggest thank you of course goes to the girls, Millie Waud, Keisha Lemar, Hannah Tyler, Hollie Chappell, Charlotte Chaney, Miriael Taylor, Charlie Hudson and Eryn Killian, their teacher Kirsty Lomas and Rainham School for Girls for representing Gillingham FC for the very first time at Wembley.
Their attitude and application was first class and even though they didn’t lift the winners trophy this time, the prize was making it all the way to Wembley for an opportunity of a life time to play on the pitch and we hope those memories will be something that stays with them for a lifetime.
Please click here for more photos from the day.