Euxton Girls: Doing Great Work in Lancashire

Impetus recently announced a player sponsorship deal with Chorley Women’s Lisa Topping. One of Lisa’s early clubs was Euxton Girls. Ben Gilby talks to the club’s Michael Taylor about Euxton Girls’ development, Lisa’s time there and how things are going at the present time.

Above: Euxton Girls enjoyed success in the pre-lockdown period. Photo via: Michael Taylor.

We began our discussion with Michael telling us all about the history of the club: “Euxton Girls FC was formed in July 2002 by our Chairman Dennis Winn, when his granddaughter told him she wanted to play football. That granddaughter was Nicola Barker, who is still involved in coaching at the club. This grassroots, girls only club was established to encourage and help give girls, from the age of five to eighteen, the opportunity to discover the game. Originally with twenty-three girls signing on to U10s and U12s teams, and playing in the Lancashire FA Girls League. We now have over 250 girls across seventeen teams playing in six leagues and have an established FA Wildcats centre, recognised by the FA.

Impetus recently announced sponsorship of Chorley Women’s Lisa Topping who played for Euxton Girls in her early days as a footballer. I asked Michael how Lisa is remembered at the club: “Lisa is remembered as a hardworking and technical player. She had an excellent left foot, in which she often curled in goals straight from the corner.”

“Lisa was the first to make it at a professional senior level and was followed shortly by Danielle Gibbons (who also played for Liverpool FC). We also had Jasmine Elliot who represented England at Youth Level. Lisa was also the first to accept an American scholarship and many have followed her since, around 5% of our players over the years have made it into a higher grade of football. With rising numbers of players at the club and improvement within the women’s football pyramid, we hope to see plenty more of our girls progress into senior football, both at professional and grassroots level.”

Above: Euxton Girls in action – something which everyone hopes will be able again to happen before too long. Photo via: Michael Taylor.

Coronavirus has had a massive impact on life in the country and Euxton Girls have had to work their way through it too: “It’s been tough for everyone, Football was missed by everyone, especially the players, but we were very much on the front foot to get back and stay back safely, there is extra work but it’s worth it to get that hour in the week and a game on a Saturday or a Sunday to enjoy and see their teammates and a sense of normality on the pitch.”

“Lockdown was tough to start with but I think we did well all things considered, All the coaches were constantly in touch with their teams and each other, at least every week with quizzes, online training sessions and meetups etc. The club also did weekly online quizzes across social media with different themes such as Blockbusters and A Question of Sport, and amazingly we managed to get our club sticker book launched, online, which went down a real storm with all the girls.”

Apart from coronavirus, there are other challenges at the club as Michael highlights: “The biggest challenge now is the lack of facilities, pitches, and winter training especially as the club grows and less are available due to various reasons, we lost one of our pitches earlier in the year to housing development for example.”

That growth is incredible and the achievements of these ever growing number of Euxton Girls teams is phenomenal: “We started into lockdown with fourteen teams, we now have seventeen, with the addition of two new U9s and an Open age team during lockdown. Our last season’s u12s West team just won the Lancashire FA Cup in October, delayed from May, which is the highest achievement since our then U15s beat Manchester City to the league title back in the day. We’ve had tournament wins at Flamingo Land, Blackpool, Bispham and Skelmersdale national tournament as well as League wins in recent years in the West Lancs league. We currently have six of our older teams in contention for League honours.”

Above: Lisa Topping, sponsored by Impetus (back row in tracksuit) with a group of Euxton Girls players. Photo via: Michael Taylor.

Like every club, Euxton Girls have a wonderful group of volunteers, without whom they could not function. Michael highlights some the club’s real stalwarts: “Antonia, our U10’s West team coach especially stands out, she works with a few of the teams from the U9’s to the open age, she is fantastic at what she does and has been a real asset with the our newer female coaches to bring them up to speed with their teams and training and mentor them without the FA courses being available as yet. She’s due to go to America coaching later on this year and will be sorely missed. We wish her every success on her journey.”

“Maisie is another standout from our 16s team. She also plays for our U18s and helps to coach one of our U13s as well as leading our youth council which was cut short, both these girls are great role models to all the girls and fantastic examples of what the club is about.”

We ended our conversation by examining what the club’s aims are over the next few years: “The immediate aim is stability and recover lost ground, we’re in a good position and have some good things going on later this year all being well. The main aim is to get the conveyor belt going from the Wildcats upwards, we would like to see girls progress through the ranks to open age, if not via a player pathway with a club such as Chorley Women, to a higher level. It would be good to see more of our former players coming back into coaching their own teams as well and get more female coaches onto the books. If we can get to twenty teams by our 20th birthday next year, that would be a fantastic achievement, facilities and coaches pending of course.”

Above: Lisa Topping of Chorley Women and formerly of Euxton Girls – proudly sponsored by Impetus. Artwork: Graphics by PW.

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