Su­per Satur­day was just a start for golden Hayes

The Football League Paper - - WOMEN'S FOOTBALL WEEKLY - By Tony Leighton

HE’S an Ar­se­nal sup­porter, but in 2012 su­per­star ath­lete Mo Farah un­wit­tingly played a part in what has be­come the boom­ing women’s football suc­cess of Lon­don ri­vals Chelsea un­der for­mer Gun­ners as­sis­tant man­ager Emma

Hayes.

In the con­text of the Blues’ Su­per League and FA Cup dou­ble this sea­son it seems in­cred­i­ble that, be­fore she be­came the club’s man­ager three years ago, Hayes had walked away from football af­ter 17 years of coach­ing in Eng­land and the USA. “I was burnt out and I wanted to get out of the game,” said Hayes, as she re­flected on the rise and rise of her team. “I came back from Amer­ica to run my fa­ther’s busi­ness, and I also set up an on-line busi­ness in for­eign ex­change.

“But then I got a text from Laura Coombs, one of my old Ar­se­nal play­ers who’d moved to Chelsea, ask­ing me if I was back in Eng­land. And then shortly af­ter I’d replied to Laura I got a call from Peter Stew­ard, who was the Chelsea women’s team chair­man at the time.

“I’ll never for­get the mo­ment he rang me be­cause it was in the mid­dle of Mo Farah’s 5,000m run at the 2012 Olympics.

“I was sat at home watch­ing the race on TV. I had a glass of cham­pagne in my hand and I was so caught up in the ex­cite­ment of the race that when Peter asked if I’d like to be­come the Chelsea man­ager I just shouted ‘yes – I’ll do it!’

Build­ing

“I didn’t ask about salary, bud­get, none of of the things I’d need to know, I just ar­ranged to meet him at the train­ing ground the next day.

“The women’s side of the club didn’t have much back then – they didn’t even have any wa­ter bot­tles – but we talked about build­ing the in­fra­struc­ture as well as de­vel­op­ing the team and that’s the way we went about it.

“In my first sea­son (2013) we fin­ished bot­tom but one in the WSL, but I didn’t care be­cause I knew we were head­ing in the right di­rec­tion.

"I got a big­ger bud­get last year. We spent the money wisely and I felt we’d put to­gether a team that was good enough to win the league. Un­for­tu­nately it all went wrong for us on the last day of the sea­son – a hor­ri­ble day for us be­cause we got pipped to the ti­tle on goal dif­fer­ence. As I’ve said all along this sea­son though, that hor­ri­ble day has been the driv­ing force for us in what’s been a fan­tas­tic year for the club.” Chelsea’s fan­tas­tic year, which still goes on as they are cur­rently in­volved in a Cham­pi­ons League Round of 32 tie against Glas-gow City, reached its zenith as they lifted the WSL tro­phy last Sun­day. Fit­tingly in front of thier big­gest ever home crowd, 2,710, the mo­ment of tri-umph ar­rived 23 years to the day since the club’s very first out­ing – in the Greater Lon­don League’s third di­vi­sion.

Amongst Sun­day’s spec­ta­tors at Wheat­sheaf Park were some play­ers from the orig­i­nal women’s team, plus the founder of the club, Tony Farmer, and its cur­rent pres­i­dent John Terry – cap­tain of Chelsea’s Premier League side and proud dad of U9 Chelsea girls team player Sum­mer.

Hayes said: “It seemed so right that we won the ti­tle on a big an­niver­sary for the club. I loved meet­ing Tony Farmer and a cou­ple of the play­ers from that first team. They had tears in their eyes and rightly felt they’d played their part in what we were all cel­e­brat­ing on Sun­day night. “John Terry texted me, say­ing it had given him goose-bumps watch­ing history in the mak­ing. He

didn’t want to get in the way and take any of the lime­light, but he truly is a big sup­porter of the women’s team and I can’t thank him enough.”

Terry has in the past helped to fund the women’s team when money was too tight to men­tion, but the days of shoe-string bud­gets have gone as Hayes now gets full fi­nan­cial back­ing from the par­ent club. With that back­ing comes big am­bi­tion and, as she be­gins what is the club’s first ever foray into the Women’s Cham­pi­ons League, Hayes is happy to em­brace what­ever pres­sure may be on her as she looks to build suc­cess upon suc­cess.

“The bud­get we’ve had this year means we’ve been fully pro­fes­sional for the first time and that’s been a mas­sive help,” said Hayes, who is hop­ing to celebrate her 39th birth­day on Sun­day with the Blues in the last 16 of the Cham­pi­ons League.

Ex­pe­ri­ence

“With the in­fra­struc­ture we’ve built and the team that we’ve de­vel­oped, I feel that we are more than ca­pa­ble of com­pet­ing in Europe,” she added.

“We won’t be ex­pected to win it this sea­son, but the fact that we’ve qual­i­fied for the Cham­pi­ons League again next sea­son is a real bonus, be­cause I be­lieve you need at least a year’s ex­pe­ri­ence to find your feet in the com­pe­ti­tion.

“When I was as­sis­tant to (man­ager) Vic Ak­ers at Ar­se­nal and we were Euro­pean cham­pi­ons in 2007, the club had al­ready had four or five sea­sons play­ing against the best teams on the con­ti­nent.

“We’ve got to build up that bank of ex­pe­ri­ence, start­ing with this tie against Glas­gow. I’m pleased enough with the 1-0 lead we’re tak­ing up there for the sec­ond leg on Wed­nes­day, but we’ll def­i­nitely be tak­ing noth­ing for granted.

“We want to get through this round and go as far as we can, then the fu­ture aim will be to con­sis­tently get into the Cham­pi­ons League and ul­ti­mately to win it.”

Pow­er­ful words, but they come from a man­ager who has been around the block and knows her stuff.

Hav­ing gone into coach­ing af­ter her play­ing ca­reer was ended through in­jury as a young­ster, Hayes has en­joyed plenty of suc­cess both at home and abroad – apart from an ill-fated spell in Amer­ica with Chicago Red Stars, who sacked her in 2010.

“Work­ing at Chicago was quite a learn­ing curve, but I def­i­nitely be­came a bet­ter coach be­cause of it,” said Hayes, whose dis­ap­point­ing spell in Chicago was fol­lowed by more suc­cess­ful stints with Washington Free­dom and Western New York Flash be­fore re­turn­ing home.

Now she is where she was “des­tined” to be.

“Be­fore I went to Chicago I was told by a clair­voy­ant that I would one day leave a legacy at Chelsea,” she said.

“I’d never thought about work­ing for Chelsea be­fore, but then I got that phone call in the mid­dle of Mo Farah’s race and I thought later,‘ this is no co-in­ci­dence – this is my des­tiny’.”

PRIZE WIN­NERS: Emma Hayes and Katie Chap­man pose with the WSL tro­phy

PIC­TURE: The FA

PARTY TIME: Chelsea Ladies celebrate their Women's Su­per League ti­tle

IT’S FATE: Hayes re­ceived the call about the job dur­ing Mo Farah's 5000m win

BUILD­ING A LEGACY: Gemma Dav­i­son scores against Sun­der­land, above, as John Terry poses in the stands

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