Above: Thetford Town captain Sausha Levy-Twomey in action. Photo: Hannah Parnell.
Thetford Town captain Sausha Levy-Twomey and manager David Skipp speak to Darrell Allen about how the club has come such a long way in a short period of time (8/2/22).
Captain Sausha Levy-Twomey and manager David Skipp have both have been involved with Thetford Town from its foundation.
Sausha joined the team in the summer of 2018 and was awarded the manager’s player of the season at the end of that first season. She is also on Thetford Town’s committee to represent the ladies and to help progress the team.
David has been a loyal servant to Thetford Town with his role now seeing him with the ladies. “I’ve been involved at Thetford Town for around 10 years now. Having started as U18 manager, then first-team assistant, a small stint as interim first-team manager then onto the ladies”
Sausha recalled the team’s first-ever match.
“It was away to Horsford at the Nest in Norwich, I was playing in defence and we won 5-1. There was such a great atmosphere and feel to the team. Having only been together a number of weeks, it was great to start the season with a win.
“My role has definitely changed since joining the club, originally, I joined because of how much I missed playing football regularly as I was just about to finish the first year of my degree, I thought it would be the best time to start up again.
“Since then, my involvement within the team has grown significantly. I have become captain, a committee member for Thetford Town, I helped run Thetford Town U16 girls alongside Melissa Boulton, run plenty of training sessions, and have arranged many different social events for the team. I love the team, each and every player brings so much, all with such different attributes. It’s great to see the development of younger players too.”
David also remembers how proud he was of that first game. “It was literally our first game. We had no friendlies, just went straight into the league games. We came away 5-1 winners. I was so proud of the ladies. Some hadn’t kicked a ball before and some had played at all ages. We still have five of those players in today’s squad. It was a tough first season playing some games with only eight players but they never gave up.”
Sausha revealed how positive the experience has been this season after an unexpected promotion to the top flight of the Norfolk Women’s and Girl’s League (NWGFL).
“Having been promoted after our first season to the NWGFL Division One, I had some apprehension when we were told we were to be promoted. However, I had full confidence in the team and the coaching staff and knew we would be able to compete.
“I felt like with the new additions we gained in the summer and the development of the already existing squad, this was a move which we needed in order to progress further, which is evident from our first seven results in the league. Six wins and one draw and currently sitting in third place, closely behind Fakenham.
“I think it’s safe to say that as a team, we have exceeded the expectations we set for ourselves and also the expectations our opponents set for us. I don’t believe that our fellow teams thought we would compete as well as we have, it’s great to see and I think we have a great chance to finish the season in a high position within this league.”
David also spoke of a mix of apprehension ahead of the start of the campaign, but pride at how things have gone.
“We didn’t know how strong we would be. We had a brief encounter in Division One in our second season which was halted by COVID and we did struggle. So the move up again was going to be hard but I knew the ladies would give it their all.
“We have started well and it was not what we expected but knew we were capable of. We have exceeded expectations, if we finished midway in the table then that’s a successful season especially coming up from Division Two. After the start we’ve had I can’t see why we cannot finish in the top four and that would be an exceptional season for us.”
One of this season’s proudest moments was the Norfolk Women’s Cup tie against top of tier five side Wymondham Town.
Sausha said: “I for one am incredibly proud of the performance, effort, and determination of all 13 players and coaching staff for what we knew would be an incredibly tough game against a brilliant Wymondham team. To hold these very talented players to 1-1 until the 55th minute was a great achievement! We raised the bar on our standard yet again and showed just how far we have come over such a short period of time. It was a pleasure to play against them, they are a great group of women”
David was also full of praise for the cup tie.
“I said to my assistant if we come out of this game conceding less than eight we’ve done well. All I can say is that the ladies left everything on the pitch that day. Every one of them can be proud of that game. For me, it was one of the best performances I’ve had from a team in all my 30 years years’ managing.
“The energy and work ethic those ladies put in that day was exceptional. Yes, we lost 6-1 but Wymondham knew they had been in a game. Experience and fitness was the difference in the end. I can’t see anyone beating Wymondham for the cup this season, they are going well at present.
“That game was my favourite moment so far. The league games we’ve played have all been eventful and there is a long way to go. All I know is this team will compete in every game they play in.”
Sausha identified a league game with Long Stratton as her favourite moment of the campaign. “We have had a great start to the season, I think for me, my stand-out game was definitely beating a good Long Stratton away, it’s always a great game to be involved with and I think to do the double on them was great.”
The Thetford captain also highlighted some of the key players this season in the team.
“I think for me, there is a very clear stand-out player for the season. She has consistently performed at an exceptional standard this season and is one of our youngest too, Abbie Corbyn. However, the whole squad has come on leaps and bounds, I could say something positive about every member of the team. A special mention to Melissa Boulton and Rachel Lynch for stepping in and helping run training sessions when the coaching staff have needed a hand.”
As well as those fine words for Abbie, Sausha was also full of praise for David Skipp and Stuart Terry the management duo at Thetford:
“David Skipp has been my manager since starting the club in 2018. He founded the team and has developed the team to what we are now. Without his continued efforts, commitment, countless hours planning, prepping, and nagging us, we wouldn’t be the team we are.
Stuart Terry joined the coaching team last summer. He has brought a huge network and an abundance of knowledge to the team. They both provide such fantastic support for all of us, we couldn’t thank them enough.”
David on the other hand was quick to point out this is very much a team effort “Every player has played their part this season from goalkeeper to forwards I couldn’t single out any individual. These ladies enter the pitch as a team and everyone gives their all, win lose or draw I cannot fault their commitment.”
Sausha then told me about the team’s recent partnership with Her Game Too.
“#HerGameToo is a great campaign to help promote inclusivity in sport on a whole and football specifically. It is a great honour for our club to be in partnership with this campaign.
“Assistant coach Stuart Terry originally reached out to encourage the team to be involved with the campaign. We thought it would be great publicity for the team and to also show what the team stands for. It’s a great example to show our fellow teams. I hope other teams will get involved too”
David was also full of praise for the Her Game Too initiative.
“Her Game Too is something we thought we should be involved in. As a ladies team we feel we should help get the message across that ladies in any form of football have the right to be there. It’s a strong message to get across to the minority who think football is a man’s game that should be played by and watched by men. If our small club can get the message across then we have done the right thing. It’s sad in this day and age that this movement is needed, women’s football is growing, female officials are ever increasing which is a wonderful thing to see.”
David also spoke about how much the squad is looking forward to the upcoming Lionnesses match at Carrow Road.
“We will be going to the game and we have to thank Bungay Ladies for this who were willing to have an early kick-off so we can attend. It’s great for females of all ages to see the England team in their area and hopefully, it will give them an incentive to push on with their football. They are all role models within the side, not just the players, the manager, and all the backroom staff.”
The conversation closed with by discussing what the rest of the season holds.
“I think the target for the team should be to continue to work hard and to continue to develop! It would be great to finish in one the top positions in our league this year,” said Sausha.
“On a personal level, I want to continue my involvement with the squad and club and to use my existing roles within the club to promote inclusivity and to help develop and progress the team as much as possible.”
Dave confirmed the team are aiming for the top four. “Our target for this season is to keep progressing and to keep competing in the league. As I said previously if we could finish in the top four, then I would be immensely proud. It would all be down to the squad they are the ones who play week in week out. I have the easy job of picking the team knowing whatever 11 I pick they will give it their all. So top four, then build again to push on next season is our target.”