Hi Faye, thanks for speaking with HUST. Youre in your second spell with HUWFC. How’s the season going?

Faye: Firstly, thanks to HUST for sponsoring me! Overall it’s been great as an experience although we’ve struggled a little after being promoted last season, so that takes a bit of adjustment. We had a new team really, a new manager mid-season in Andy Stuart, a blend of experience and u23 players coming through, so we want to finish closer to mid-table. There are around 8 games left but I feel we are getting better every week, we’re really determined plus the experience for the u23 girls is a huge benefit to them. The ability is there so it’s just the confidence now, on and off the pitch. 

HUST: Have you always played football? 

Faye: At school my favourite subjects were science and PE – I work in forensics now – but I was always active. I was into taekwondo, swimming and when I started playing football my mam and dad probably thought it’s just another phase. 

HUST: Did you support a football team growing up? 

Faye: My family are big Sunderland fans, that’s my roots but my boyfriend is a massive Liverpool fan, so if he hears me talking about Sunderland he might start shaking his head! So Sunderland first and I enjoy watching Liverpool. 

HUST: What position do you play now and have you always played there? 

Faye: I’ve always played in defence, always a full back and on the left as I’m left footed. I always just took to that position. 

HUST: And how did you get involved with Pools? 

Faye: I started playing with Hartlepool when I was at college. I played at Durham as a youth previously and I was ready to make a jump to the women’s league so started looking round the area with my dad, who is really supportive. Hartlepool were doing really well and we messaged Andy Stuart who has been involved in the club for a long time and I went along to train. Andy had already seen me play as an opposition coach and was over the moon I got in touch. 

HUST: Does it prove difficult to get players for teams like Hartlepool?

Faye: I’ve seen a massive increase in the players coming through over recent years to be honest. When I was in my early teens there weren’t a lot of girls playing. The last five years has seen a massive change in the opportunities for girls. 

HUST: The womens game seems to have really accelerated, with big crowds for the premier league and FA Cup.

Faye: Yes, it’s so positive. When I was at primary school there wasn’t even a girl’s team to play for. I used to just kick around with the lads. The only way is up for the next generation! In the end I was fortunate though, as I didn’t go looking for a club, I was spotted by a dad watching on the sidelines, so the opportunity came to me. 

HUST: So it seems positive on a national level but what is the grass roots scene like for women and girls? What are the good aspects and also the challenges?

Faye: At grass roots level you’ve got a lot of authentic players, girls from all different kinds of backgrounds, it doesn’t matter if you come from money or anything like that, you’re all there and all equal. You get a lot of girls who love playing football with their friends, there’s a community feel, it’s like a family. 

The parents get on really well also and you rely on your parents as a young girl or if you don’t drive to get to games and training. Playing is a fantastic opportunity to meet girls from outside your area, to build friendships and to develop as a person and football player. We just learn from each other. 

HUST: Do people travel a good distance to play for Hartlepool?

Faye: The girls are fairly local. We’ve just merged with the under-23s and those girls are generally from Hartlepool but we’ve got players who travel from Richmond and Shields. 

HUST: Thats quite a commitment then. Is there any financial help for players? 

Faye: We don’t get paid to play but the sponsorship we get is a massive help. It’s all voluntary, across the players, coaches including Graeme Greig, Dawn Stuart our brilliant club secretary. At the end of the day, while everyone is competitive you’ve got to remember you’re playing for fun as well and it’s a release for a lot of people. There’s no money incentive to play although getting as far as we can in the cups brings some more money for the club. That pays for buses to away games and pays for training. We’ve got sponsors to help pay for the kit as well, which is a massive help to the club. Having a nice kit at the start of the season really boosts morale for the girls. 

HUST: Are there any other barriers to the game developing? 

Faye: Ultimately we need fans getting behind our teams, as the sport grows. We don’t charge for fans to watch the game, although some clubs do. Maybe a small charge could really help toward training facilities, hiring pitches etc. That would help us hold on to good, talented girls. Obviously talented girls want to play for the best team so facilities, coaching etc. help draw good players to us.  

HUST: So Pools fans should come along to the matches!?

Faye: Absolutely! We have played on the Vic in the past as well, although not for a few seasons. That was massive for our profile and it was great having fans along to that. It is something we look forward to, although it’s got to align with the men playing as well. From the point of view of retention of players, recruitment and morale, playing at the Vic again would be massive. 

Look at the effect of the women playing at St. James’ Park. No matter the level, for a women to be able to say I’ve played at the Vic is crazy to think about and I’m lucky I’ll always have that. It’s something to look forward to and remember. 

HUST: And does social media help? 

Faye: Social media is great as well, links to us, shares, retweets all help. All that is good for away teams as well and helps the profile of the whole women’s game. It’s just recognition really and gets people talking. 

HUST: You saw at the dedicated Her Game Too match last week that hundreds of girls came along, which was brilliant. Jill and the other volunteers do a great job of keeping a high profile for the girlsteams and also all the women who work and contribute to the club, keeping it going behind the scenes. 

Faye: I know the hard work Jill and others put in and they’re planting seeds for the next generation of girls, for football and sport in general. 



HUST: Going back to the team, how do you prepare for matches and how often do you train? 

Faye: It’s the basics leading up to a match, no late nights, no alcohol, eat well, plenty of fluids. We’ve got to monitor injuries – Andy has so many years of experience in football he’s able to help. He’s always there with advice on training as well. 

In terms of training, we train twice a week up at East Durham College in Peterlee, on astroturf. Some girls prefer 3G others grass but the quality of grass pitches varies. We often play on a Sunday following men’s games on a Saturday, so the pitch is heavy on the legs. We’ve got a backlog of games due to matches being called off and that can have a detrimental effect on your league position. As a team though, we play better on 3G, we prefer the pace of that. 

HUST: Twice a week really is a commitment!

Faye: Sometimes it’s difficult to get to both sessions, I struggle with work commitments sometimes. As a group we’re quite sporty though, we’ve got that streak where we’re general active, at the gym, other sports as well as football, that keeps us ticking over! 

Social aspects are important as well, you’ve got to jell as a team. It’s important we get together as a team away from training, bond and have team nights out. 

HUST: And match day?

Faye: Personally I’m always the slowest getting ready and out, and slowest afterwards! We love having our music on to get ready though, having a bit of craic!

HUST: Is there a stand out moment from playing this season? 

Faye: After a bit of time not playing, just getting back to training and matches has been brilliant. A friend was in the same position and she messaged me saying ‘how do you feel about getting back into football?’ The first session with her was like it was only yesterday we’d played together. So, just getting back on the pitch. Also, Hartlepool has always felt like a family. I’ve grown there, developed and made friends.

HUST: Do you have an aim for the rest of this season and then next?

Faye: For the team I’m optimistic and positive. We need to work on things – we get on really well so it’s understanding better how others play. Fitness we can always work on, we know the level of the league and will keep pushing. Our aim is to come off the pitch after 90 minutes and say we’ve given our all. End of the day, we’re not paid so it’s got to be fun as well and appreciating one another. Once we leave the pitch we are mams, we have full time jobs, we’re studying, everyone’s got different goals so the aim is to enjoy it. 

What is really rewarding is bringing on new players through, that’s where the club takes off, finding the next generation of players like I once was. I understand how it was for younger players and it’s great helping them. And honestly, we’re such a welcoming club. 

HUST: Youve given us so much of your time so just some quick questions about you to finish. If the match is called off how do you fill your time? 

Faye: There’s always stuff to do around the house but I’d spend time with my boyfriend. He plays as well in the Northern League on a Saturday and I play on a Sunday, so not having a match is an opportunity to spend time together, go for a nice walk, see friends and family. Getting weekends away is a nightmare!

HUST: Who is your favourite football player? 

Faye: At the moment it has to be Salah! 

HUST: If you can only eat one type of food for the rest of your life, what is it? 

Faye: ooh… it would have to be chocolate you know! 

HUST: If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be? 

Faye: I do love music, so that’s tricky but I’ll go with a song by Queen because it reminds me of my dad. He’s always been a great supporter, he’ll do anything to help me… his commitment is better than mine! He loves watching me play. 

HUST: Last question then… tell us something we dont know about you? 

Faye: I suppose people assumed I’ve always played football since I was young, like a lot of the girls I play with now. However, I was actually a ballerina! 

HUST: What a great answer to finish on! Absolutely fantastic, thank you so much for your time and good luck for the rest of the season.