She no longer hates the manager Emma Hayes, who released her from Chelsea 18 months ago, but the Notts County and England goalkeeper Carly Telford is nevertheless relishing the prospect of retribution as she lines up in opposition to her former boss in today’s FA Women’s Cup final at Wembley.
In what will be the competition’s 45th final, but the first to be staged at the national stadium and with a record crowd of around 30,000 anticipated, Telford is aiming to help defeat the club for whom she was captain when they lost on penalties to Birmingham City in the 2012 final.
Hayes took charge of Chelsea during the following campaign and stunned the now 28-year-old goalkeeper by telling her that she was being released. “It was a kick in the teeth,” said Telford. “Emma had discussed her plans for the future with me and I assumed I was part of those plans.
“So it was a real shock when she told me I was being let go. If you’d have asked me at the time I would have said, ‘I hate Emma Hayes for what she’s done to me’. I didn’t want to see her or speak to her. I felt so bad I wanted to leave England and I spoke to clubs in France, Germany and Sweden.
“But then Notts County came knocking and that gave me the chance to work again with Rick Passmoor, who I’d played for at Leeds earlier in my career and who I think is one of the best managers in the women’s game in England.
“I’d have to say that Emma is up there as well, and you can’t argue with what she’s done at Chelsea. I’m more mature now than I was when she released me and I’ll shake her hand and wish her well after the final – but I so hope it will be with a winner’s medal round my neck.”
Telford, who is one of five ex-Chelsea players in the Notts side, is set to play today despite being less than 100 per cent fit after dislocating a shoulder while training with England at the recently completed World Cup finals in Canada.
She is the only keeper on the club’s books eligible to play in the final, and though it may be seen as a risk to play her, she insisted: “I’m fine – I played 90 minutes against Arsenal last Sunday and now I just want to get out there at Wembley.”
While Telford and Passmoor both talk about their clubs’ trip to Wembley as a significant boost in “establishing the Notts County brand in the women’s game,” Hayes and her team are looking to prove themselves a viable part of what is one of football’s biggest world-wide brands.
Hayes said: “The women’s team has never won any silverware, so winning this final would be massively important for us. There will be some of our top officials at the game and we want to make them and everybody else involved with the club proud of the women’s team.
“We want to be just as successful as the men’s side of the club and this could be the springboard for us.”
Hayes’ captain, Katie Chapman, will be aiming to collect her ninth winner’s medal, with a fifth different club, 18 years after getting her first – as a 15-year-old – with Millwall Lionesses in front of a 3,015 crowd at Upton Park.
Today’s attendance should be 10 times higher than that and England midfielder Chapman, whose other English clubs were Fulham, Charlton Athletic and Arsenal, said: “It shows just how much the women’s game has grown since I started playing.
“The interest is building and building, and after the boost of [England] winning bronze at the World Cup, playing the FA Cup final at Wembley is another great chance to showcase the game.
“Hopefully the final will carry on being played at Wembley – the biggest game in the women’s calendar deserves to be there,” Chapman added.
The Football Association director Kelly Simmons agrees with Chapman and confirmed last night: “We are already committed to Wembley for next year, and hopefully after that it will remain the venue for the final.”Reuse content