Michelle Ward won the first-ever Thales Award, while chairman Alan Dunt (right) stood down
Continuing our look back on a successful 2017 for Crawley Wasps LFC, we remember the months of June and July…
There may not have been any league football over the summer, but Crawley Wasps were still busy.
The 2016-17 season came to a close with the club’s annual presentation night. Holly Walker won both first-team player of the year awards, while stalwart Michelle Ward was honoured for her 20 years at the club with the newly created Thales Award, named after the club’s main sponsor and given to someone who has demonstrated an outstanding contribution to Wasps.
Jessica Rippin was named the reserve team’s player’s player of the year award, with Jodie Barker taking the honour for the Under-16s and Chanelle Gainsford and Eleanor Keegan joint recipients for the Under-15s.
For Eleanor, it was to be her last honour as a Wasps player – she joined Millwall Lionesses’ Under-16s squad.
Chanelle and her team-mate Lauren Graves picked up further player of the year titles, this time at the Sussex Schools FA awards.
At the club’s AGM, chairman Alan Dunt and treasurer Rory Church stepped down. Vice-chairman Paul Walker replaced Dunt, while committee members Karen Beckett and Kelly Byworth took on Church’s duties.
Focus then switched to the 2017-18 campaign, with the first team strengthening ahead of a bid for promotion. In came goalkeeper Frankie Gibbs (ex-Millwall), midfielders Jenny Drury (ex-Lewes) and Hayley Fowle (after a spell in the US) and striker Kemina Webber (from Watford Development).
Cottesmore became new partners for the first team
It wasn’t just players, though – Mike Gardner joined as first-team coach to replace the departing Martin Firmo, while Jordan Stannard and Paul Walshe were recruited to take the new weekly strength and conditioning sessions, in association with new partners Cottesmore Hotel, Golf & Country Club.
Wasps were also a popular presence at the Horley and Copthorne carnivals, with departing first-team goalkeeper Marie Gillstrom and Under-15s star Lauren Graves going head to head with youngsters of all ages in ‘beat the keeper’ contests.
Soon enough, training began again and pre-season campaigns got up and running. For the youth teams, there were also summer tournaments – the Under-16s were runners-up at Maidenbower, while the Under-15s were finalists at the Anchorians tournament and at Broad Oak.
Review of 2017
January – Sussex Cup semi win, Zoe’s brave return
February – Rabson makes mark, Laker repels Charlton
March – Another Cup final against WSL Brighton
April – Reserves on form, Under-15s end historic campaign
May – Orient end Cup dreams, Under-16s finish fourth
June/July – Sponsors sign up, new coaches appointed
August – First team open season with victories
September – Development and Under-11s begin well
October – Wasps hit nine twice in record start
November – Under-16s shine, first team set pace
December – Cup success for firsts and reserves