The home of Football in Kent will play host to the Kent FA Women's Cup Final this evening.
Tonight, under the floodlights, The Medway Priestfield Stadium will host the annual Kent FA Women’s Cup Final. This season’s showpiece will be contested between Gillingham Ladies and the Gillingham Ladies Development Squad.
Gillingham Ladies run to the final saw them beat current holders Kent Football United 2-1 in the second round, an emphatic 6-0 win over Margate in the quarter final before sealing a place in the final with a 3-0 win over Herne Bay.
The Development side, in its debut season, has had a remarkable campaign, currently sitting fourth in the South East Development League and have reached the final at Priestfield with victories over Cray Valley (PM), Dartford Ladies and Ashford respectively. This cup run saw the team score ten goals, conceding just once.
The final sees an all Gills affair, but it will be in the dugouts that will prove the most interesting setting of the evening. Gillingham Ladies manager Jack Wheeler will line up against his former assistant Richard Gurney, who is now manager of the Development Squad.
Speaking in pre match press interview, Wheeler was full of praise for Gurney and how the former assistant has progressed since moving into management:
“It is the first time we have played against each other, I’ve know him for years, he was with me last year, I see him every day, talk to him every day, he is more like a brother to me than an opponent really, especially on Thursday.
“He has earned the right to be in the final, the Richard I knew when he first came in at Gills to the Richard he is now is completely different. I am very pleased and proud of what he has achieved so far.
“The way of recognition of the coach that he has become is that he will be leading a team out at Priestfield on Thursday evening in the Kent Cup Final. Making those steps from being someone who came into Gills not very confident, didn’t step forwards to take sessions to now to lead his own team and coming out tactically very well, pushing to a Kent Cup Final is great."
Gurney stepped into the Development Squad role when the team was founded at the end of last season, in their opening campaign the Development Squad have competed strongly amongst the established Women’s Super League Development teams in the division.
Looking ahead to taking on the first team and his former boss, Gurney spoke of the advice and guidance that Wheeler has given him:
“Jack’s been so helpful to me this year and the past few years, like I have changed so much as a coach just through watching him and Dan [Logue] and getting advice off them.”
So when asked if Thursday night’s final be one of the toughest matches so far for Gurney, this is what he had to say:
“I talk to Jack every day, so it will be like playing against one of your best mates, it should be a laugh, he’ll probably be throwing water at me and all sorts. I can’t wait for it really.”
Join the Gills at The Medway Priestfield this Thursday evening [28 March 19:45 KO] for a showcase of women's Football in Kent.
Tickets for Adults are just £6, Concessions £4 and Under 5’s Free.