NEWS: Cole appointed first-team boss

Crawley Wasps are delighted to announce Dave Cole as the club’s new first-team manager on a permanent basis.

Cole guided the squad through pre-season as interim manager after Paul Walker’s departure by mutual consent earlier this month.

He had been the team’s assistant manager since arriving in the summer of 2016.

Cole said: “I’m excited about taking on this job and continuing the work Paul and I started some years ago, because there’s unfinished business.

“The squad has been taking shape over the pre-season, with new signings to be announced soon, and I’m very pleased with the progress we have made.”

Wasps chairman Jack Ayles said: “I’m extremely pleased Dave has agreed to take charge of the team.

“He’s been a valuable part of our success over the last few years and will ensure continuity on the pitch and in the dressing room as we enter an exciting new season.”

Prior to joining Wasps, Cole was director of football at Lewes Women and scouted for Millwall Lionesses. He has also coached men’s sides Eastbourne United AFC, AFC Uckfield and Withdean.

First-team coaches Mike Gardner and Chat Perera, and goalkeeping coach Paul Woodhams, have all been retained, while Richard Lowes joins as physiotherapist. Matt Graves has left the staff to join Southampton Women’s FC.

STATEMENT: Manager Walker departs Wasps

Paul Walker replaced Paul Harding as manager back in 2015 (Picture: Ben Davidson Photography)

Crawley Wasps have parted company with first-team manager Paul Walker by mutual consent.

Assistant manager Dave Cole will lead the team through pre-season as interim first-team manager. His role as the club’s new director of football remains unaffected at present.

All other first-team staff continue to work towards preparing the squad for the season ahead.

Walker became first-team manager in 2015, leading the club to back-to-back promotions in 2018 and 2019 and the Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup in February 2020. He was also the club’s chairman between June 2017 and June 2020.

The Crawley Wasps board expresses its gratitude to Paul for his hard work on behalf of the club, and for the success achieved during his time as manager. We wish him all the best for the future.

We will be making no further comment at this time, but will issue a further update when a successor is appointed.

NEWS: New structure as Wasps begin 30th year

First-team assistant manager Dave Cole has joined Wasps’ operations board as director of football (Picture: Ben Davidson Photography)

Crawley Wasps have revamped their off-field set-up as they begin their 30th year as a standalone all-female club.

The football committee is now an operations board, led by new chairman Jack Ayles, who will also head up a three-man executive board running a new limited company.

Joining Ayles on the exec board will be his father Gary – a former racing driver who co-owns Pease Pottage-based classic car logistics firm Bespoke Handling – and Kim Beasley, business director of Regency Security, who takes on the same role in a voluntary capacity at Wasps. Both have granddaughters who play in the club’s youth section.

“I have brought Kim on board as he brings valuable business experience and will ensure we keep pace with our goals and objectives,” chairman Ayles said.

Most of the new operations board will be made up of the former committee, with first-team assistant manager Dave Cole joining it as director of football and Ant Scott now heading the communications department.

The other members are Simon Pavey (director), Maz Graves (club secretary), Paola Heaton (financial director), James Laraman (commercial director), Alison Smith (welfare and safeguarding officer) and Dave Connor (head of youth).

Ayles added: “I’m delighted with the breadth of experience we have in key positions within the club.

“This is an unpredictable period as we navigate through the new normal, but we will all be working together to help the club fulfil its undoubted potential.

“To have been a standalone, all-female club for 30 years is something of which we can very proud, but we must also look to the future and set in place goals, objectives and plans for the longer term.”

NEWS: Wasps U12s take on fundraising relay – and you can help

Wasps’ Under-12s with their manager, Jack Ayles.

Crawley Wasps Under-12s are without a team sponsor for next season – but you can play a small part in getting them on to the field when the new season begins.

The players have come up with a great idea to help them raise the funds they need to play – a sponsored team relay.

Between them, they will run 100 laps of the full-size adult pitch at the club’s Ewhurst training base in Ifield Drive, Crawley, all in socially distanced groups of course.

The team’s fundraising target is £750 and anything above that will be donated to St. Catherine’s Hospice.

The relay will take place on Saturday August 1, from 10am, and spectators are welcome to cheer the girls on for their marathon effort.

Even better still, pledge whatever you can to help them get back playing again when the 2020-21 campaign begins.

You can donate on the team’s dedicated crowdfunding page:

NEWS: Wasps boosted by nutrition expert Jack

Jack Hill spent more than a year with men’s National League South side Eastbourne Borough

Crawley Wasps players will benefit from the input of a sports nutritionist as the club ramps up its preparations for the coming season.

Jack Hill, who has a Masters in sports nutrition from Liverpool John Moores University, initially joined Wasps’ backroom staff in February.

The Covid-19 outbreak curtailed his involvement but he will now start working alongside coach Chat Perera and head of strength and conditioning Jordan Stannard, as they analyse the various performance metrics of the players.

“We’ll be asking players to fill out food diaries for a few days, which will allow the development of individualised nutrition plans to improve health and performance”, Hill said.

“We’ll revisit them throughout the season, making tweaks depending on what the metrics say. Everything is to be tailored to players’ different positions.

“If, for instance, there’s someone whose performance is regularly dropping in the second half, it might be there’s a fuelling problem than can be addressed through their diet.

“We want to try and improve performance. You wouldn’t put the wrong fuel in a car and expect to win a grand prix.”

Hill previously worked with the men’s teams at Crawley Town and Eastbourne Borough, and says nutrition is vital when it comes to supporting players’ recovery and immune health.

“Nutrition is often referred to as the silent training,” he said. “Training and playing matches gives you an endorphin release – but no-one gets a round of applause for eating a bowl of porridge!

“But when you show people the evidence, of what difference it makes to performance, they soon start to buy into it.”

First-team boss Paul Walker said the addition of Hill to the backroom staff was “very welcome”, as the club again aims to challenge at the top of the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier.

He added: “There is a growing recognition of the importance of nutrition and diet for players competing at the elite levels of the women’s game, and its role in optimising personalised strength and conditioning programmes for players.

“It also reflects the determination of Crawley Wasps to continue our journey and building a team-around-the-team, in support of our long-term ambitions.”

NEWS: Gaster appointed reserve-team boss

Hannah Gaster was an RTC coach and general manager at Millwall Lionesses during their Women’s Super League days

Crawley Wasps have appointed Hannah Gaster as reserve-team manager.

The former Millwall Lionesses RTC coach and general manager holds a Uefa B licence and has also coached Charlton Athletic Women Under-14s and at the University of East London.

She succeeds Simon Pavey, who stepped down this summer due to increasing work commitments. Reserves coach Ryan Strudwick has also left the club.

West Sussex-born Gaster, 31, said: “What I’m passionate about is ensuring there’s a pathway from youth to first-team level. That’s what I’ve been sold on here at Wasps and hopefully it can come to fruition.

“You don’t want a reserve-team player coming into the first team who doesn’t know how to win, because being a first-team player is all about winning and getting higher up the league.

“So developing that winning mentality is still going to be very crucial in the way that I coach the reserves. But, at the same time, it’s also about helping players progress and learn. It’s a mix of both, and it’s a very delicate balance.”

During Pavey’s six years in charge, the reserves won back-to-back promotions in 2015 and 2016, taking them from the Sussex County Women’s League to the South East Counties Premier Division, before winning that title in 2019.

They then successfully adapted to the FA Women’s National League Reserve Section last season prior to the league being voided.

Wasps chairman Jack Ayles said: “Simon and Ryan did a fantastic job to take our reserves up the pyramid and everyone at Wasps is hugely grateful for the work they put in.

“I’m delighted to be able to welcome Hannah to the club. Her coaching experience and her enthusiasm for the role made her the ideal appointment.”

NEWS: Wasps to return to training from July 1

All of Crawley Wasps’ senior and youth sides will return to training from next week after the club reviewed the latest Football Association guidance.

The sessions will comply with the latest government regulations – players will be split into socially distanced groups of no more than five, with equipment sharing minimised and hygiene standards rigorously applied.

To achieve this, and ensure the safety and wellbeing of players, staff and parents, the club will spread its training over several days until further notice.

The Ladies first team and our under-14s will be the first to return to our Ewhurst training base, in Ifield Drive, this Wednesday (July 1).

The reserves and development squad will start to train on Thursday (July 2), with the under-12s, under-13s and under-15s returning on Sunday July 5. Finally, the under-9s, under-10s and under-11s hit the grass on Tuesday July 7.

Wasps chairman Jack Ayles said: “We have all been keen to return to training, but have had to carefully consider the practicalities of delivering sessions safely, given the threat to health that Coronavirus still poses.

“We have studied the latest FA guidance and now feel confident we can provide our 10 senior and youth teams with relevant coaching while remaining Covid-compliant.

“All players and parents will be issued with guidance on the rules we’ve put in place to ensure everyone’s safety and we look forward to seeing everyone back at Ewhurst from next week.”

To enquire about joining Wasps, please email

NEWS: Ayles to lead Wasps into landmark year

New Crawley Wasps chairman Jack Ayles with the U11s team he manages.

Crawley Wasps LFC have refreshed their leadership team ahead of the club’s 30th anniversary year, with Jack Ayles taking over as chairman.

Paul Walker stepped down at Tuesday’s AGM after three years in the role, in order to focus fully on managing the first team.

Ayles, previously Wasps’ head of youth, is relishing the opportunity to lead the club.

He said: “I’d like to thank Paul for his hard work as chairman over the last few years, and everything he has achieved in that role.

“Every club is facing stark challenges at this time, and we are no different. But we will work harder than ever off the pitch to deliver a sustainable future post-Covid, while retaining our ambitious long-term goals.

“I’m looking forward to working with the committee, players, parents, sponsors and all those who have helped the club to where it is now.”

Simon Pavey stays as vice-chairman but has resigned as reserve-team manager due to increasing work commitments, with the club taking applications for that role.

Accountant Paola Heaton and businessman Gary Ayles will further bolster the experience of the club’s committee. Heaton becomes treasurer, while Gary Ayles assumes the new role of head of strategic business development.

Dave Connor (pictured) becomes the new head of youth and former Under-13s manager Ashley Wright (also pictured) takes over as youth fixtures secretary from Mark Graves. Maz Graves (secretary), Alison Smith (welfare and safeguarding officer), James Laraman (commercial manager) and Mick Gainsford (Ewhurst groundsman) remain in their posts.

Walker said: “It’s been both a pleasure and a privilege to have been chairman for the past three years and I am very proud of the progress made both on and off the field.

“The time is now right for a planned succession and for me to concentrate on my job with the first team, continuing the journey in pursuit of our footballing ambitions.

“I have no doubt the club will be well served under Jack’s leadership and that he will bring many important personal qualities to the role.”

Crawley Wasps Annual General Meeting – June 16 2020

Paul Walker, club chairman, will chair the Annual General Meeting (Picture: Ben Davidson Photography)

Crawley Wasps will be holding its Annual General Meeting on Tuesday June 16th, from 8pm.

This is your chance to hear about the club’s progress over the past year and its ambitions and priorities for the coming year and beyond. The main committee will also be elected at this meeting.

For the first time, the yearly meeting will be held over Zoom. To enter the meeting, CLICK HERE to open the Zoom website in a new window and enter the meeting ID 608-668-3231.

Please note: We are limited by capacity to 100 attendees and will begin the meeting at 8pm sharp, so please log in early.

CLICK HERE to download the agenda for the AGM in PDF format.

CLICK HERE to download the agenda for the AGM in Microsoft Word format.

STATEMENT: No return to training just yet

The club met this week to discuss the latest guidance issued by the FA on Monday in relation to a return to socially-distanced training sessions.

While we appreciate many are keen to return to face-to-face training, our first priority is always the health and safety of our 150+ players, coaches, volunteers and wider family.

It was decided that as a club we will retain a cautious approach to such a return, and the current guidance falls short of being practical for us to enact safely. As a result, we will not be returning to training at present.

We will of course review the situation regularly and await further guidance from the FA. We will issue a further update following this.