Flying winger Charlotte Gillies in top form for Cambridge City Ladies
Lilywhites make it 11 matches unbeaten ahead of FA Cup clash with Cambridge United Women on Sunday (November 11).
Charlotte Gillies is the perfect example of a player flying through Cambridge City Ladies & Girls Football Club.
Having joined the set-up as an under-11, the 18-year-old is now a staple fixture in the first team.
And the use of the word flying is ideal for Gillies, whose pace is an asset that terrifies opposition defences.
Gillies was playing in the boys’ team at Teversham when family friend Simon Crow, who is now in charge of City’s development team, suggested that she join the Lilywhites.
It was a partnership that has continued ever since, with Gillies making the leap from the under-16s to the first team two years ago.
“Amy Reed and I both went from the under-16s to our first season in the ladies together and we’ve had two girls this year come up from the under-16s to the development as well,” she said.
“We train on the same night as the younger team so it’s good for them to see what they could get into if they carry on.
“We’ve got so many youth teams, all the ages and then the development team and the first team.
“Girls’ football is getting much more popular and when it’s around you much more – there are loads of different clubs and choices – if a girl wants to play football then they can.”
Gillies had combined football and swimming until getting to a point where the two would collide on a Saturday; and it was then that she decided to pursue football at the expense of swimming.
Seeing how far she can take her football is still an ambition, but that will have to come after some time away from the sport.
“As I’ve got older, I’ve wanted to play at the highest level possible,” she said. “I did a few regional camps a few seasons ago and that really opened my eyes.
“There were people from all different counties in one team and I realised how high the standard was – a few girls who I played with there are now playing for Manchester United and Manchester City in the Women’s Super League.
“It was definitely a good experience, the coaching was really good there. It taught me a lot and there was nutrition advice as well, and recovery sessions.
“It was not just what happens on the pitch, but what happens off it as well.
“It is an ambition to still play higher, but I’m working a lot this year because I’m having a gap year so I’m going away from February to May.
“If I don’t go to university, I will probably dedicate to football and training harder.”
Gillies admits to a hint of regret that she will miss the business end of the season, but with overseas travel on the horizon sees it as an opportunity too good to resist.
And the way the Lilywhites have started this campaign – going 11 matches unbeaten – if they carry on as they are then it could be one good finish.
“I like how we’ve played together this year,” she said. “I think you can tell that this squad has got stronger just by the way we play and how we do things. We’ve just got to keep pushing.
“Last year was good, but we’ve got at least five or six new players in the squad so it’s strengthened us quite a lot.
“They have brought a lot of strength and ability. Some of them are quite young. We’ve got one of our centre-backs, Robyn Phillips, back.
“We’ve got Erin (Davies) and Sofia (Castiglione) who are two young centre midfielders and good in the middle for us as they have a lot of energy to run around.
“We have Shannon Shaw as well a new forward, another new defender Anna Goggin.
“Laura (Mills) was with us at the end of last season, training and playing the odd game as she wasn’t happy at MK, and she is with us all the time now.”
Mills, Shaw, Davies, Bella Simmons and Lauren Tomlinson were on target as City kept up their good form with a 5-2 win at Harlow Town in the East Region Women’s Football League, Premier Division.
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