Ladies fixtures announced

West Ham Ladies will kick-off their 2015/16 FA Women’s Premier League South season with a trip to Coventry on Sunday 16 August
West Ham Ladies will kick-off their 2015/16 FA Women’s Premier League South season away to Coventry United Ladies on Sunday 16 August.

Following the announcement of the fixture list for the new campaign, the Ladies will host their first home match at AFC Hornchurch’s Bridge Avenue Stadium against last season’s South division champions Portsmouth, before a long trip west to face Premier League newcomers Forest Green Rovers.

The Ladies hope to name a new manager soon to replace Julian Dicks, who has become a coaching assistant to first-team boss Slaven Bilic, and Joint-Chairman Stephen Hunt told the Ladies will be ready for a tough opening away game.

“It’s been a busy few weeks for the Ladies since Julian left the club but we are confident that everything will be in place by the time we head to Coventry on the opening day of the season,” admitted Hunt. “We are currently in the final stages of interviewing some highly-qualified candidates who have a vision of how to take our club forward, so we will take our time to select the right candidate for the job and then support him as he makes his own preparations.

“I have been looking forward to the fixtures being released ever since my father and I joined the club so now we’ve found out who we are playing in the opening weeks, our attentions can turn to making those preparations and making sure that the players have everything they need to head up to Coventry confident of opening the season with three points.”

The FA announced the Women’s Premier League fixtures on Tuesday afternoon and it was tough reading for Hammers fans, knowing that in the opening two weeks, the Ladies will face both last season’s Premier League North runners-up and South champions.

Hunt appreciates that his side have been dealt a blow by taking on two of the strongest teams in the league at the start, but knows that it will be a tough season all-round so it is best to test the team from the first whistle.

“Of course it’s going to be tough opening the season against two teams that finished in the top two in both the Premier League North and South last season but this is a competitive league so every fixture is going to test us,” he continued. “Coventry are a fantastic team and will bring a wealth of talent to the South division this season, while we know what Portsmouth are capable of as we failed to pick up a point against them last season.

“We’ve brought in some new players and are well on track to appointing not just a new manager but assistant coaches too, so we are confident of being able to compete against every team in our league this season.”
We are confident of being able to compete against every team in our league this season
Under the management of Dicks last season, the Ladies rose from second-bottom of the league the previous year to finish in sixth place. The Hammers also reached the London FA Capital Women’s Cup final, where they finished as runners-up to South division rivals Charlton Athletic.

Whoever is unveiled at the new Ladies manager will know that progression is the key and a higher placed finish next season is the ultimate target for the Hammers.

“Progression is always the target for any club in any league,” added the Joint-Chairman. “Whether you are Barcelona, West Ham Academy or our Ladies, the club have to look for progression in one way or another if we want to have a successful season.

“Last season was very good under Julian’s management because the girls picked themselves up from a poor finish the season before to secure sixth place and a cup final spot too.

“For us next season, we have to be looking to perform more consistently throughout the season and aim to finish higher then sixth and maybe even claim some silverware!”

Since Hunt and his father, John, were unveiled as the club’s new Joint-Chairmen back in May, several changes have taken place including moving the club from their old home at Aveley FC’s Mill Field Stadium to their new base at AFC Hornchurch’s Bridge Avenue Stadium.

With match-day experience at the top of the list for improvements next season, Hunt hopes that Hammers fans will head down in their numbers to cheer on the girls in Claret and Blue.

“I have spent hours trying to work out what we can do down at Hornchurch next season to draw a crowd because we want our girls to walk out onto the pitch knowing that the Hammers fans are there in their numbers supporting them.

“Admittedly my task has been made slightly easier with England Lionesses doing so well in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada during the summer as it seems fans are more interested in women’s football, so if I had a message for Hammers fans who haven’t been before it would be to simply ‘give it a try’.

“We are close to announcing Season Tickets for next season which is another new addition to the club and also considering we will have pre-match entertainment at every game, we hope to see some fans through the gate at Hornchurch soon.”

For the full Ladies 2015/16 fixture list, click here.