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Chelsea Women Discussion Thread

Started by OhForAGreavsie,

89 posts in this topic

An update about tickets and club organised travel to Manchester for the key WSL showdown with City, and to Nottingham for the League Cup Final against Arsenal, plus a changed kick-off time for The FA Cup game at home to Liverpool Women.


Please note, you do NOT need to be a CFC member or season ticket holder to book a seat on one of the club coaches but non members/STs will need to make a telephone booking rather than an online one.

The girls are playing well, scoring lots of goals and face a month of big matches ahead. Throw in the affordable travel and, if you haven't been tempted to go to a CFCW game before, now's your chance. :)

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Highlights of last weekend's clash with Man City:

The draw leaves us one point behind City at the top of the table, but with a game in hand. Arsenal are a further three points adrift.

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Tomorrow the women battle it out with Arsenal in the final of the League Cup. The game to decide the first domestic trophy of the season is being played at Nottingham Forrest's City Ground. It is being broadcast by BT; 17:30 UK time kick-off

BBC Preview

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1 hour ago, OhForAGreavsie said:

Tomorrow the women battle it out with Arsenal in the final of the League Cup. The game to decide the first domestic trophy of the season is being played at Nottingham Forrest's City Ground. It is being broadcast by BT; 17:30 UK time kick-off

BBC Preview

GOOOOO BLUEGIRLS!!!!!!!!!! :wub:

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Bethany England with both goals, the second one coming right at the death! 

Emma Hayes has now won every domestic trophy and has won 6 titles in 6 years. 

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49 minutes ago, Jason said:

Bethany England with both goals, the second one coming right at the death! 

Emma Hayes has now won every domestic trophy and has won 6 titles in 6 years. 


at least the woman are doing the colours proud!!!

Image result for ktbffh

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Boy it was cold! Great turnout by the blue faithful nevertheless. Visually, the majority in attendance were Chelsea fans. A big majority.

As for the game, the better side lost. Arsenal played superior football and dominated the contest. Beth England was the official player of the match, and she did play well in addition to scoring the goals, but goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger was the true difference maker for Chelsea. She pulled off a string of saves. Some of them absolutely top class. You could say Arsenal were unlucky to loose, or you could say they should be ashamed of themselves for failing to win a game they totally controlled. Either way, the cup is ours. :)

Next up for CFCW is an international break followed by two crucial fixtures with Everton. First, there's a trip to Walton for an FA Cup quarter final on 15th March, then the Toffees visit Kingsmeadow seven days later for a vital WSL game.

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Following their international break the women are back in action on Sunday when they face a trip to Everton for an FA Cup quarter-final tie. The following Sunday, 22nd March, they host the same opposition in a vital Women's Super League game. Every match from now on is basically a must win for the girls as they seek to add the WSL title, and The FA Cup, to the League Cup they won at Notts Forrest's City Ground a week and a half ago.

To celebrate that win, the club are putting the League Cup on show at Kingsmeadow before the home game with Everton, and offering a free glass of bubbly to over 18's who attend. Sounds like a good day to make your first trip to see Chelsea Women is you haven't yet. Meet fans in the bar before the game, pick up a glass of something sparkling, and support the girls in their quest for a historic treble. : -


Extended highlights of the League Cup Win: -


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Magda Eriksson on captaining Chelsea, Hayes’ genius and being an equal



To hear Magda Eriksson speak is to understand why Chelsea stand on the brink of taking back the Women’s Super League crown. The Swede, appointed club captain ahead of the 2019-20 season at the age of 25, gives off an air of calm authority even as she talks about her burning desire to win. The combination makes it easy to see why she was chosen to lead an increasingly star-studded squad by Emma Hayes, the most charismatic and respected manager in the division.

“Her winning mentality is a perfect match with mine – all we do is think about how we can win,” Eriksson tells The Athletic of Hayes. “It’s really nice to be part of that, because it would be really frustrating not to be part of a culture like that. Last season we felt devastated not to win anything, and that’s been our fuel. You can really see how hungry we’ve been for winning this season.”

Chelsea lie second in the table with seven matches to play, one point behind Manchester City but, crucially, with a game in hand. They are also in the quarter-finals of the Women’s FA Cup. Lifting both trophies would replicate the historic double that Eriksson achieved in her first season at the club in 2017-18, an immediate validation of her decision to join from Swedish giants Linkopings.

“It’s been an amazing journey,” she admits. “I’d heard about so many players going abroad and not having what I’ve had, so I feel very lucky and privileged that it’s been such an easy, smooth journey.”

Eriksson’s natural leadership skills were already evident in her homeland, where she led Linkopings to the Damallsvenskan title as captain in her final season. “I remember on my first youth cap (for Sweden) when I was 15, I was the captain,” she says. “It’s quite crazy to think back on that, and it’s just always been a natural part of my game. Being a centre-back makes it natural too.

“I’ve never been the most vocal leader, screaming in the locker room, but I always wanted to win every game and I understood that it’s a team effort, so I’ve always tried to get my team-mates with me. When I was made captain in Linkopings it felt so big, and I was so honoured.

“I was really young and it was a lot, so I think I learned a lot from that year and I took the experiences from that into being the captain at Chelsea. I’m always trying to make myself a better leader and think about ways to improve myself.”

She has found an ideal mentor in Hayes, who has empowered Eriksson and other senior players to take an active role in the running of the team. “Emma is really keen on involving players and having player accountability,” she says. “That’s something that I’ve learned I like. As players we feel like we have buy-in in a totally different way, and that we’re part of the process.

“In Chelsea it’s been mainly about feeling the room the whole time, putting my emotions and feelings aside and just being a representative of the team. But also being brave enough to step into Emma’s office if I need to and say something, which has also been very rewarding personally. That’s something I wanted to work on, to be able to say, ‘This is what we feel’. It’s been a good journey and it’s nowhere near finished – I feel like I’m just starting.”

Eriksson’s instinct to take the lead also translates to her life off the pitch. Last year she and her partner, Wolfsburg striker Pernille Harder, became the first couple to sign up to Common Goal, the movement through which footballers pledge one per cent of their income to fund high-impact football NGOs. Last month, the organisation also started a separate COVID-19 response fund.

“It’s such a good and nice way of contributing, one per cent relative to what you earn,” she says. “Everyone is giving the same effort. I really thought it was cool, their drive to make this the norm in football. If the one per cent was there from everyone, imagine what an impact that could be on society. They call us the Common Goal team, so I feel like I’m part of something bigger, and I know collectively that our money can make a change.”

The organisation gives footballers the power to direct their money towards causes that matter most to them. For both Eriksson and Harder that was PlayProud, an initiative that seeks to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment within team sports for individuals who identify as LGBTQ+. “You can choose your own organisation based on your interests, and for us that was being open with our love for each other,” she says.

“We found PlayProud and thought it was perfect for us – they are educating coaches and trying to create open environments from the youth levels up, trying to change the culture of football to be more open and accepting.”

Juan Mata, Jurgen Klopp, Giorgio Chiellini and Mats Hummels are among the high-profile male football personalities to align themselves with Common Goal, but more than half of those who have made the one per cent pledge are from the women’s game – most notably US national team stars Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan. “It’s really interesting, and it makes me really proud that we do,” Eriksson adds. “It was only a few years ago when I felt I could share one per cent of my salary.

“Before, I felt like I needed every penny that I could get. It’s really cool to see that even though we don’t earn that much yet, we still have a willingness to give back. We feel like we’re role models and have a responsibility to be more than just football players, and maybe because we’ve always had to speak up for women’s football, we’re really socially aware. We’ve also started from the bottom and have moved our way up, so maybe we’re more appreciative of what we’ve got.”

That healthy perspective of football’s place within the wider world has helped Eriksson cope with the sport’s sudden shutdown, just at the moment when it seemed glory was beckoning Chelsea.

“That’s been the frustrating part, but we’ve been really good at not looking at it that way,” she insists. “The situation is the same for everyone. If it wasn’t I would feel differently, but it is the way it is. We can’t possibly play, and we don’t feel there are any gains in thinking what might have been, or what good form we were in.

“We know that when we start again we’ll still be the same players. At this moment it’s just about staying fit and healthy, and it might even be good that some players got the rest they needed after a tough World Cup and a shortened summer break. We’re just looking at the positives we can take from the situation, instead of feeling sorry for ourselves.”

Eriksson initially took the opportunity to settle into lockdown life in London with Harder. “(Being apart) is our normal routine during the season, so we felt really lucky to have the three weeks in England,” she says. “We tried to see it as a positive, that at least we had time together – quarantine time! We haven’t had three weeks like that together in a really long time.”

But the situation didn’t last; Harder was called back to Germany in anticipation of Wolfsburg resuming training. Eriksson wasn’t allowed to join her, so Chelsea instead granted her permission to travel to her family home in Stockholm. Since then she’s had to content herself with the tailored home fitness regimes provided by the club, while Harder gets ready to play again.

“I’m trying to look at the positives, but I do miss football a lot – and now Pernille is going to training it’s even harder,” she admits. “I want to do that too! We’re not individual athletes. I need my team-mates. But I have really enjoyed being at home and spending time with my family. I don’t think I’ve had three weeks here at home in Sweden since I moved to England.”

Eriksson also has the comfort of job security; in contrast to other clubs in more precarious situations, Chelsea were quick to provide assurances that their women’s team will continue to be funded through this crisis. Such certainty dulls the frustrations of the present and allows her to focus on the promise the future holds – namely, the possibility of five trophies lifted in four seasons.

“I’m really proud to be part of a club that feels so strongly about its women’s team, and really values us as equals,” she says. “I’m hoping that the worries came early and the people in the right places are doing everything to prevent the women’s game from not continuing upwards. Hopefully this is just a bump in the road and once we get going again, we can start from where we ended.”

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Making Chelsea Women: spotting superstars, stellar signings and ruthless Hayes



Tony Farmer will never forget October 4, 2015. As the founder and first manager of the side now known as Chelsea Women, he was invited as a guest of honour to Wheatsheaf Park to watch the 4-0 rout of Sunderland that sealed the club’s first FA Women’s Super League (WSL) title.

But there is another reason why he will always remember the date. “It was the 23rd anniversary of us playing our first competitive game in the Greater London League (in 1992),” he tells The Athletic with a laugh. “You couldn’t write it. Both games ended up 4-0.”

After the match, Farmer was introduced to a jubilant Emma Hayes, bringing together the two most significant figures in the club’s remarkable success story at the moment of its greatest triumph. “If I could have picked anyone to be manager of Chelsea Women now, it would be her,” he adds. “She’s so focused, she wants to achieve and she gets it.”

emma hayes chelsea women ladies wsl

Chelsea Women won a WSL and Women’s FA Cup double in 2015 and repeated the feat three years later. They were on course to do it again this season despite facing stiffer competition than ever, having firmly established themselves on and off the pitch under Hayes as a club with aspirations of lasting dominance domestically and in Europe. The WSL is in limbo owing to the coronavirus pandemic, with all women’s football from the third tier and below already abandoned this season.

Farmer still takes huge pride in the achievements of Chelsea Women because he knows better than anyone just how far they have come. In 1992, when he wrote to the club pitching the idea of starting a women’s team, none of this seemed vaguely possible.

“Someone asked me recently, ‘Was it your dream to see Chelsea Ladies in the Champions League?’” he says. “There was no Champions League! You can’t dream about things that didn’t exist.”

Chelsea, who had not run a women’s team since the 1970s, were initially sceptical. A lifelong supporter, Farmer presented the new team as a way to improve public perception of the club, but his own motivation ran deeper than PR: he had spent time coaching women at Crystal Palace and been struck by their passion for the game, as well as their work ethic.

“They knew they had to be better to win people over because they were trying to break down prejudices about whether girls should even be playing football,” he says.

Once he got the green light, Farmer set about recruiting – largely from another local women’s side he had been coaching, Bedfont United. “We had a very young team,” he recalls. “Most of the players were under 16, playing against players who had been playing for years.”

The girls paid to play for Chelsea and trained on Friday nights. “We started off training on an old redgra (all-weather) pitch at an old community college by Feltham,” Farmer says. “It was the cheapest option and local to a lot of the players, but if you fell over you ended up with a load of grit in your knee.”

Chelsea Ladies entered the third division of the Greater London League in 1992, and one of Farmer’s early priorities was to make the club’s fanbase aware of the new team. He got in touch with programme editor Neil Barnett, who made sure the women’s team was regularly featured. The exposure helped secure vital donations from supporters to contribute towards covering costs.

Farmer’s new team migrated across south-west London in search of better facilities. They even played at Motspur Park, now Fulham’s training ground. But their nomadic existence didn’t adversely impact results. “We missed out on promotion by about a point, and lost in a cup in extra-time,” he says. “The next season we won the division undefeated all season, and we’d arrived.”

Chelsea’s hierarchy responded by offering the women the chance to do a lap of honour around Stamford Bridge at half-time of the club’s penultimate Premiership home game of the season against Coventry. Farmer was nervous but his fears proved misplaced.

“They got a standing ovation from all four sides of the stadium,” he says. “After that, they invited me in to discuss a budget for the team.”

Farmer was given access to a £3,000 fund that covered pitch rental, equipment and other costs for the following season. He was even able to start a second team. While still entirely under his control, the project had been firmly brought under the Chelsea umbrella. “I couldn’t have done what I did without the club,” he admits.

In their first five years, Chelsea Ladies were promoted three times, reaching the brink of the Premier League National Division – then dominated by the giants that Farmer was trying to emulate. “I wanted to build a club to challenge at the highest level, to challenge Arsenal and Doncaster Belles and the rest,” he says.

Chelsea Ladies also became a prolific breeding ground for young talent. Among the prospects who went on shine at the top level of the women’s game were Fara Williams, the most-capped England player of all-time, and former England captain Casey Stoney, now Manchester United Women’s manager.

Stoney was spotted by Farmer at the age of 12. “I used to pick Casey up from her house and drive her to training,” he recalls. “We were driving back one night and I said to her, ‘If you want it enough, you’ll play for England one day’. She just laughed, an embarrassed laugh, as if to say, ‘Yeah right’.”

She went on to earn 130 England caps and win every domestic honour at club level in a glittering professional career, of which four years were spent at Chelsea. “She sent me a programme from her last game at Liverpool when she retired with a little message on it, saying, ‘Without you, none of this would have been possible’,” Farmer says. “As a coach, that’s all you could ever want.”

Farmer stepped away from running Chelsea Ladies in 1997, but not before ticking off two more unforgettable achievements. His team played an exhibition game against Manchester United on the Stamford Bridge pitch in 1996 as part of Eurofest, an event organised by chairman Ken Bates to run alongside Euro 96.

A year later he led them out at Wembley for a small-sided game ahead of the 1997 FA Cup final against Middlesbrough. “I was pinching myself walking out there,” he says. “It was like a surreal dream. The Chelsea team came out to do their usual lap of the pitch ahead of kick-off, and it was while the women’s game was going on.

chelsea women wsl

“We had mainly the younger players. Dennis Wise, Frank Leboeuf and Roberto Di Matteo were stood around the side of the pitch cheering when we scored a goal. Those are amazing memories.”

Images from that day came flooding back into Farmer’s mind in August 2015, as he watched Chelsea beat Notts County in the first Women’s FA Cup final to be held at Wembley.

“After the game I looked up at the big screen and it said ‘Chelsea Ladies, FA Cup Winners’,” he says. “That was really emotional, the realisation of how far it had come.”

The 15 years between Farmer’s departure and Hayes’ arrival were not without progress for Chelsea Ladies, but any advancements were tempered by the sense that much more might be possible with greater funding and coherent planning.

Long-awaited promotion to the Premier League National Division under George Michaelas in 2004-05 swiftly followed the decision to fund the team directly from Chelsea’s Football in the Community department. That meant greater resources, but it also created the impression of the women’s team as more of a charitable initiative than a sporting project to stand alongside the men’s senior side.

Chelsea Ladies’ reputation for splashy signings outstripped their results in those early years. True relevance in the National Division remained elusive despite the arrivals of England internationals Stoney, goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain and forward Eni Aluko, as well as World Cup winning-USA star Lorrie Fair. The lack of quality infrastructure around the women’s team had a lot to do with the mediocrity.

The reality of being a women’s footballer at that time has stuck with Claire Rafferty, who joined Chelsea Ladies from Millwall Lionesses in 2007. “Getting no money to be there, minimal travel expenses,” she says. “Being last on the list for the facilities. The kit didn’t fit. But it was where women’s football was at the time, and it was still a step up from where I’d come from.

“When I look back now it’s crazy, comparing what the girls get now with what we got. It was very difficult to be a women’s footballer then. It was always an add-on. You’d work the whole day and then come to training.

“We only trained twice a week at the time. We’d be in 8pm until 10pm on a Tuesday and Thursday and then just turn up on a Sunday with our kits in our bags. We used to train on the 3G pitch at Cobham. We weren’t taken as seriously as we are now. We weren’t a priority at the time, which is just where women’s football was.

“We were actually a lot better off than a lot of teams. We were bringing in top players because the club wanted to win things. It didn’t go to plan but it was never going to be a quick fix.”

Michaelas’ successor Steve Jones lured Lianne Sanderson and Anita Asante from all-conquering Arsenal in 2008 and led Chelsea Ladies to their highest National Division finish of third. Matt Beard took the reins after him and bridged the gap to the formation of the WSL, as well as leading the team to a heroic Women’s FA Cup final defeat on penalties to Birmingham in 2012.

Beard did more than anyone to highlight Chelsea Ladies’ potential to break into the top echelon of the women’s game, but he left to take over at Liverpool in July 2012 unfulfilled.

“We overachieved for the team we had – Matt really galvanised us,” Rafferty says. “When he left I knew it was because he’d been offered more opportunities, and that annoyed me a bit. It made me think we weren’t investing as much as we should have been.

“He was really pushing for improvements in infrastructure, but he didn’t really get what he wanted. I remember him being a little bit frustrated. That was the beginning of the WSL as well, so we needed to do it. That’s why Matt ultimately went to Liverpool. I think they offered him more chance of creating a professional environment.”

Hayes was uniquely qualified to succeed in the areas previous Chelsea Ladies managers could not. She followed two years assisting Vic Akers at Arsenal with a stint as head coach and director of football operations at Chicago Red Stars in Women’s Professional Soccer. When she returned from the USA in 2010, she did so with a vision for how a successful club should work at every level.

It also helps that Hayes happens to be one of the most charismatic and persuasive leaders in football. “Emma came in and got the ear of the right people, and that made the difference,” Rafferty says. “She knocked down the barriers that were there and the rest is history.”

chelsea ladies rafferty hayes women wsl

Rafferty laughs as Chelsea players and their coach take ice baths in the river during a pre-season tour of Austria in August 2017. (Photo: Chelsea Football Club/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Hayes immediately clicked with Paul Green, who was tempted from Doncaster Belles after being sold on the untapped potential of Chelsea Ladies. “Emma is very clear on what she wants,” he says. “She wants to win, and she’ll do everything she can to do it. She’s very ambitious and driven, and she doesn’t like to sit still. She still has a million ideas about how we can improve and adapt.”

The revolution was far from painless. In the first season after Hayes began overhauling her squad, Chelsea Ladies finished second bottom of the WSL, but many inside the club trusted that things were changing for the better. “She got rid of about 80 per cent of the team when she came in,” Rafferty says. “It was ruthless, and we’d never been ruthless.

“It had been a very friendly environment, and the mentality she brought in was exactly what the club needed on and off the pitch.”

In came Katie Chapman and Gilly Flaherty from Arsenal and South Korean star Ji So-Yun to bolster an increasingly international squad that included Japan’s World Cup winner Yuki Ogimi, while Fran Kirby soon followed for a reported record fee in women’s football. “The biggest transformation for me was when Ji came in,” Rafferty says. “I know damn well that Emma would have had to promise her the world, so it made me feel that the club was going to a better place.”

Chelsea Ladies only lost the WSL title to Liverpool on goal difference the following season, thanks to an agonising final-day defeat away to Manchester City. At the sombre team meal that followed, Hayes and Green were already compiling a list of players to sign to make sure it couldn’t happen again. Many of them came in: Millie Bright, Gemma Davison, Hedvig Lindahl, Niamh Fahey.

In May 2018, Chelsea Ladies became Chelsea Football Club Women, with the club saying they would no longer consistently refer to the men’s side as the “first team”. The move was designed to reflect the “ever-growing status of women’s football, and Chelsea within it,” the club said.

There are shades of Brian Clough and Peter Taylor in the partnership between Hayes and Green that has powered the inexorable rise of Chelsea Ladies since, which has been founded on consistently stellar recruitment. “The scouting has been through Emma and my experience in the game – mine more domestically, Emma’s more abroad with contacts,” Green says. “Sometimes we’ll be one step in front of someone else just in terms of our good network of contacts, and we’ll know if certain players are coming to the end of their contracts or are unhappy.

“In the early days, we would need to sell it more than we do now. Back then the bigger leagues were USA, Sweden, Germany. Chelsea Women sells itself now in terms of how successful we’ve been, the crowds we’re getting and the profile of the game. It’s at the stage now where it’s just picking the right players that we feel we need.”

When she gets into a room with a player she wants, Hayes has proven spectacularly effective at imbuing them with the same enthusiasm she has for the Chelsea project. “She made me feel like I was the best centre-back in the world,” club captain Magda Eriksson says. “She was really good, talking about the women’s game in England and how Chelsea were working.

“It made me feel, ‘Wow, if there’s any place where I can develop, it’s going to be here. I’m going to get every opportunity and if I need something, they’re going to provide it’. Those weren’t just empty words from Emma; it’s been the reality.

“Every summer there has been more recruitment, new focus points on how to become better as an individual and as a team. The way I’ve developed as a football player since coming to Chelsea has been immense, and it’s because I’d never been able to have these facilities and this support system around me until now.”

Hayes has been every bit as relentless in pursuing improvements to Chelsea’s infrastructure. In the five years since her players became fully professional, a new complex has been built for the women at the back of the club’s Cobham training ground and the team of staff working with them has grown rapidly. Those around the manager and Green now include specialist coaches, four medical staff, two analysts, a head of performance and a part-time menstrual cycle expert.

“We’ve probably got the biggest staff in the women’s game, but that basis and infrastructure is really important,” Green says. “We’ve always felt that if we can give the players as much as possible, they can be the best they can be on a daily basis. They’ve got no excuses. We’ve got one of the best set-ups in Europe, and any player who comes here is in a terrific position to learn and improve.”

Given her achievements and status within women’s football, it was inevitable that Hayes would be touted as a front-runner to replace Phil Neville as England manager when he steps down next year. Everything she has said publicly in recent years, however, suggests she would turn down the job. She has built a formidable power base at Chelsea, but she also has unfinished business.

Just as it once was for Roman Abramovich, the Champions League is the obsession for Hayes. “We still want to be successful domestically, but the Champions League is the holy grail,” Green says. “It’s the ambition we share across the staff and the players, and you’ve got to handle that expectation if you’re joining the club. Emma’s made no secret of her ambition, and everyone is on the same page.”

“The main mission is the Champions League, and that shines through in everything else we do on a daily basis,” Eriksson adds. “We have a wall of trophies when you walk up to our building in the training ground, and to be able to put the Champions League trophy on that would be amazing.”

Chelsea Women got closer than ever last season, giving Lyon – Europe’s best team for much of the last decade – all they could handle over two legs of a tight and tense Champions League semi-final. A third-place finish in the WSL deprived them of the chance to renew the burgeoning rivalry in 2019-20, but Hayes’ blockbuster acquisitions of Australia captain Sam Kerr and Germany midfielder Melanie Leupolz serve as emphatic reminders of her undimmed desire to knock the French giants off their perch.

But while she waits for that next opportunity, Hayes has more than domestic success to celebrate. Chelsea Women were attracting record crowds at their new home of Kingsmeadow this season prior to the shutdown, and their Stamford Bridge showcase against Tottenham on the opening day of the WSL season provided greater exposure for a team whose support is organically growing.

Chelsea Women are at the forefront of women’s football, on the pitch and off it. The reality is a more spectacular validation than Farmer could have ever hoped for but, with Hayes continuing to push forward, all the signs suggest the most glorious chapters of this story are yet to be written.

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