Belles Ready For Opener
BELLES veteran Vicky Exley is counting down the days to Super League launch night - and the end of a painstakingly long pre-season writes Paul Goodwin!
It was almost a year ago when the 35-year-old and her Doncaster team-mates played their final ever Premier League game, a 2-1 win at Bristol last May.
But on Wednesday night the Belles will be back in league action at Lincoln Ladies for one of the most eagerly anticipated games in the club’s proud existence.
The FA WSL - summer based and semi-professional - is the start of a new era for women’s football.
And Exley, one of the longest serving players in the game, can hardly wait for the big kick off against ambitious Lincoln.
Exley, who joined Belles aged 19 said "Everyone at the club is really excited about getting started.
“We’ve been training well and we’ve added some good players to the squad.
“We got off to a good start winning at Chelsea in the FA Cup but we didn’t really get out of the blocks against Liverpool in the next round.
“But all the time we’ve building up to the start of the Super League and this game at Lincoln – it’s a game we’ve been looking forward to for months.
“Pre-season’s been a bit of a nightmare it’s been so long,” she added.
“So it’ll be great to finally get things underway at Lincoln – it’s getting closer and closer now.
“The Super League will be a fantastic league and I’ve got no doubt at all that it’ll be a lot tougher and a much better standard.
“The FA have wanted to do this for a while and it should give the women’s game a huge lift, and hopefully benefit the England team.
“With it being on the television it’s a chance to showcase our sport.
“There are some quality players when you look around the league but there’s no reason why we can’t aim for a top half finish.
“We’re not going to win it – but we’re looking to compete with the top four”.
Next week’s opponents Lincoln were very much the surprise Super League inclusion, fending off strong bids from newly crowned Premier League champions Sunderland and North East rivals Newcastle United among others.
But the Lady Imps, having got the nod, are determined to make a serious impact.
They have recruited England internationals Sue Smith, Jess Clarke, Sophie Bradley and Casey Stoney.
And they can also call upon the services of midfielder Sophie Walton, who signed for Doncaster from Leeds last summer only to defect to Lincoln just weeks later.
Exley said “It’ll be a feisty opening game.
“Lincoln are our local rivals in the Super League and it’ll probably be one of the most exciting games we’ll play this year.
“I’m not really sure what happened with Sophie but it gives the game another edge.
“They signed a lot of girls from Leeds so there’s definitely plenty of rivalry there.
“It’ll be a tough game, they’ve signed some very good players.
“But it’s a game we’re ready for and we’re really looking forward to it.”