Simon Ratcliffe has agreed to be the new Manager of Gillingham Ladies FC

Gillingham FC is delighted to announce that Simon Ratcliffe has agreed to be the new Manager of Gills Ladies.

Simon will officially start his position tomorrow (Tuesday August 5) and will, in addition, run the newly formed Girls Academy and be the link between Gillingham FC and North West Kent College.

Chairman Paul Scally announced the new partnership with the ladies team in mid-June and Simon will now begin work on preparing the squad for the new league season which begins on Sunday August 24 away at Tottenham.

Speaking exclusively to the club’s official website Simon said: “It’s great to be doing it; I spoke to Darren previously and I’m really pleased he got back to me and decided I would be the right person for the job.

“The fact that it’s a multi-faceted role intrigues me because I will be ever so busy. The ladies most definitely interests me because it’s a part of Football that is really taking off and its blossoming across the country.

“I’ve been coaching in Norfolk for the past year and the girls there are ever so keen and polite – I really am looking forward to it. Not just the ladies but the Girls Academy which is starting in September.

“I start on Tuesday – Darren, Hessy and Mark have held the fort with training over the past two or three weeks and I know they’ve done a wonderful job in getting them ready."

Simon returns to the club having made 124 appearances for Gills between 1995 and 1998, and he looks back on his time at Priestfield with good memories.

“It’s nice to come back, he added. “I’ve made no secret that the period that I was at Gillingham, certainly before I had the injury at the end, was the most enjoyable period of my career with Tony and the success we had when Paul had just taken over as Chairman.

“It was very nice in that first season to win promotion and that was quite sweet and I thoroughly enjoyed it at the time and look back on it fondly.”

Head of Academy Darren Hare added: “I’m delighted to have Simon on board; his main role is to come in and take the mantle of the Ladies team – there’s a lot of change for the girls and a lot of change for the club so I see this season as one of transition rather than progression if I’m honest.

“Having said that the girls have come back and been absolutely fantastic in pre-season, I’ve been taking them in readiness for Simon and their attitude and enthusiasm has been quite rewarding so I’m a little bit sad to be passing them on to him but with everything else going on here, it just isn’t something I can continue to do on a full time basis.

“I will closely work with Simon but he can’t wait to get his teeth stuck into it and I’m sure he will enjoy it because the quality is very good.

“He’s also going to come in as our main coach for our North West Kent College Academy. There are about 40 boys on a programme that operates out of Dartford and he will be the main person responsible for linking those boys with our current squads.”

To find out more about Gills Ladies, click here.

A new Ladies section will appear on the club website shortly.