Flaherty: Dagenham & Redbridge move is huge for West Ham United women’s team

Gilly Flaherty of West Ham during West Ham United Women vs Arsenal Women, Women's FA Cup Football at

Gilly Flaherty of West Ham during West Ham United Women vs Arsenal Women, Women's FA Cup Football at Rush Green Stadium on 26th January 2020 - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

West Ham women captain Gilly Flaherty, her teammates, head coach Matt Beard and his backroom team had the opportunity to take a first look at their new matchday home on Wednesday, where the side were shown around the 6,000-capacity stadium.

With the 2020/21 Barclays FA Women’s Super League campaign due to begin September, marking a return to competitive action for the first time since late February for West Ham United, Flaherty cannot wait to take to the Victoria Road pitch for the very first time.

“I’m really excited!” the centre-back said. “Coming here gave us the chance to visualise it; seeing where you’ll be seated in the changing room, where you’ll walk out, and those little things. I can already see myself leading our team out here. I think this is a massive improvement for us.

“We’re still local to where we were, with Rush Green only five minutes away, but we’re in the heart of Dagenham now and I know they’ve got a great support here as well.

“I’m hoping, with this move, we can bring even more fans into the club as well and hopefully we’ll be walking out, once things return to normal, to packed stands filled with West Ham United fans.”

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The new matchday home of West Ham United women’s team boasts better transport links, more food and drink options for fans, over 2,000 seats and a significant increase in accessible seating.

Flaherty says these fantastic facilities mean that Victoria Road will prove to be an excellent match not just for West Ham United players, but for the Club’s loyal supporters too.

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“It’s not just about us as players,” she continued. “It’s about the fans and no matter how good we are as a team, we’re nothing without those fans. We know how important they are to us and how loud and vocal they can be.

“With more seating and this space, I can’t wait to see and hear how much louder they can be. The whole matchday experience – more parking, easier transport links – it’s great! And if we can increase the numbers it will definitely have an effect on us in regard to performances on the pitch.

“I looked the other day at our attendances and we’re up there with the top dogs in the league. Our fans have been phenomenal. For us to have even more people here and even more seating and more facilities, it will be massive for everyone.”

Current government regulations, in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic, means that supporters will not be permitted back into stadiums in time for the start of the new Barclays FA WSL campaign, and Flaherty is looking forward to the day when she and her teammates can play in front of the fans again.

She added: “Fingers crossed things start to settle and we get the all-clear for at least some fans to come back and watch us play in the near future. The fans are huge for us. They are massive. You really notice it when the fans aren’t there and how much of a difference it makes and how it can impact the team.

“For us, they are absolutely crucial, and the more fans we can get in here, cheering us on in every game, the better. They have sung and shouted and pushed us to wins in so many matches.

“We just have to make sure we’re doing everything we can on the pitch to give the fans something to cheer about when we’re all back.

“West Ham is a family club and all the fans really want to see is the players playing for the shirt and giving their all. They want to see us fight and battle and give everything for this shirt, and I can’t wait to have them back.”

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