West Ham Ladies centre back Danica Revell has praised the impact captain Stacey Little has had on the side this campaign.
Little took over the armband in the latter stages of the last campaign following the departure of Becky Merritt but the midfielder has impressed Revell with her leadership and dedication to the Hammers.
“From going from centre midfield to every now and again playing alongside me at centre back, Stacey has really impressed me this season,” she said. “She says she hates dropping back into the defence but has done a fantastic job when we’ve needed her.
“She is a very strong and dedicated player and when in midfield, has scored some cracking goals too.
“She is very vocal as our captain and doesn’t put up with any rubbish within the team. She always tries her hardest to keep the team spirit up and always puts in 100 per cent in training.
“She’s also impressed me with how good she is with players if they ever need talking to or just some advice.”
Revell continued: “She has taken on the role as captain fantastically and off the pitch, she’s been excellent in trying to raise money for the club, online and through bucket collections. I know it’s been tough for her to organise this fundraising drive but she has been doing a really good job and I hope she realises just how much we appreciate her putting up this fight.”
The centre half also praised the efforts of Nikita Runnacles between the sticks. “It’s been great having such a vocal ‘keeper behind me,” she said. “She is a great goalkeeper, always giving instructions out and talking us through the games.
“At times, she is like a sweeper because she is so confident coming out of her area and challenging players when needed. She’s not scared at all, she always gives it her best and as a defender, you couldn’t ask for more.”
The Hammers started 2015 with a league victory over Keynsham Town before suffering a heavy defeat away at Brighton & Hove Albion Ladies in the FA Cup.
The Ladies currently sit fifth in the FA Womens Premier League South and, despite the defeat in the FA Cup, Revell believes this campaign has provided a massive boost to the club.
“We are having a good season, we’re becoming more of a team with every game and the team spirit is very high,” the 21-year-old continued.
“Last season we had a manager who left us mid-season and our physio stepped up which was such a big decision but full credit should go to him for keeping us all together and doing a great job in difficult circumstances.
“At this point last season, some senior players had left and team spirit wasn’t great so comparing it to this season there is such a massive difference. It’s been such a positive season so far - long may it continue this way.”
Before their games against Keynsham and Brighton, the Ladies had only managed to play two games in November and December - something which Revell admits has been very frustrating.
“We have been training hard but not playing for so many weeks has set us back a little because you can’t beat match fitness,” she said.
As for working with manager Julian Dicks, Revell, who joined the Ladies in 2010, added: “Working with Julian has been a big highlight for me. His determination and dedication to us has been great.
“He always strives to get 100 per cent out of us and I feel the girls have taken on board what he has to say. His sessions are always different and upbeat. He’s given me plenty of words of encouragement and confidence and this season I feel I’ve really progressed as a player. I’m more responsible for the back line and feel like I’ve become stronger.”
Revell has lined up with a few different players at the back this season - something she admits has thrown her off her games at times.
“You just get used to playing alongside someone and then it has changed,” she explained. “Having said that, I know it can’t be helped with players getting injured or because of illness.
“We’ve tried a few different variations and now I believe we have a strong back line and looking forward to seeing what the second half of the season brings.”
West Ham Ladies
The latest news, views and opinion from West Ham United Ladies by Blowing Bubbles editor David Blackmore.