“I came through their centre of excellence, but they didn’t have a women’s team at the time. When I left the centre of excellence we begged [their coach] Rehanne Skinner and our other manager to form a women’s team, and they formed Leicester Women. So it’s a team I’ll always hold in my heart. I’ve got memories from when we started lower [beginning in the Leicestershire County League], because the league said it wouldn’t be fair to put us straight into the top divisions, and I think we’d got to the old combination league when I left [for Doncaster Belles, in 2008].”
You’ve become quite the super sub for Marc Skinner in the league, namely for that winning goal at Reading in January. What were you thinking as the ball hit the net?
“I was sat on the bench watching the game and I thought, ‘this Reading keeper [Jacqueline Burns] is decent today’. I remember having a chat with kit manager Jon [Humble] and he was like, “Rach, if you get on, put it up high”. We weren’t sure if she would move quite as quick if the shot was hit up in the air. It got to about 82 minutes and I thought I wasn’t going to get on, but then all of a sudden it was like, “Rach, get ready.” The atmosphere was already tense, you could see everyone was getting a bit stressed as it was getting to 90 minutes. I got on to the pitch [on 84 minutes] and I gave out the info, and as the ball fell back to me [on 87 minutes], I remember one [Reading player] fell over, then something else happened, and then I could see Martha [Thomas] on the far side, and I didn’t think I could get it to her, and that little voice was like ‘put it up if you’re shooting!’
“So all I was thinking was about getting a little bit of backlift on it, and see what happens, even if it made the keeper work and she spilled it. I kind of shot and spun, and saw it go in as the keeper just stood in the centre of the goal. I just couldn’t believe it worked. That’s how important it is when you’re sitting on the bench – you’re just as important as that starting XI, because if you’ve got to come on and help the team see a game out or win it, you have to be sitting on the bench knowing you’ve got a plan going on. You can prepare all week for the game, but wherever you play a part, you have to be ready. I just remember me and Jon, we were cleaning up in the changing rooms afterwards and we just fell about laughing – we couldn’t believe how it worked!”