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Cirencester Town Ladies are flying high at top of the County Women’s League

All Areas > Sport > Football

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Thursday, 30th November 2023, 11:20

Cirencester Town Ladies are top of Division One of the County Women’s League Cirencester Town Ladies are top of Division One of the County Women’s League

Cirencester Town Ladies will be hoping to make it a magnificent seven when they travel to Dursley Town Ladies on Sunday.

They have won their first six games in Division One of the County Women’s League, a run of results that is all the more impressive because they were in Division Two last season.

“It’s going really well,” said joint manager Karen Messenger, who has been involved with the club for some 30 years.

Messenger, who will be 50 at the start of next year, works alongside fellow joint manager Dan Ray, who is in his third season at the club, and she says he deserves much of the credit for their flying start.

Ray’s girlfriend Lauren Hicks is part of the squad and Messenger said: “He does the man-management and the team selection.

“His past playing experience and coaching youth and men’s teams has helped to develop the ladies into a great passing team.

“This season Dan has worked on playing out from the back and that has been a big part of our success so far.

“He gets the best out of the players and he’s ambitious, he wants the girls to keep the heat on at the top of the league and he wants to win the cup after finishing runners-up last season.

“He’s been very good for the club.”

So has Messenger, who has been involved with the club almost from the start.

“The club were founded in 1990 by Justine Tibbles and we were originally based at Siddington,” explained Messenger. “I joined in 1991.

“We moved to Cirencester Town in 1993 and apart from a few years ago when we briefly folded, we’ve been there ever since.”

The ladies play their home games on the same 3G pitch at the Corinium Stadium as the men – “We’ve got great facilities,” said Messenger – and everything is certainly looking rosy at the moment.

“We are quite a family and the team are great friends which is why we’re successful,” said Messenger. “We’ve not lost at home in the league for over a year.

“They all fight for each, they have a great team bond.”

Cirencester won the County League Division One title in 2005 when Messenger was a key player in the centre of the midfield, and history could be about to repeat itself because her 22-year-old daughter Libby is playing in the same position for the team today.

“We played a handful of games together, that was always an ambition of mine,” said Messenger, before adding with a laugh, “she took my number five shirt.

“I always wore the number five shirt even though I wasn’t a centre-half and now Libby does.”

Messenger insists that her daughter is a better player than her and she’s certainly playing her part in a team that is banging in the goals for fun.

They’ve scored 39 in the league with Jodie Bailey, who plays on the left of a front three, in a rich vein of form.

“She’s been with us for two or three seasons,” said Messenger. “We play 4-3-3. We try to play in triangles, short passes.

“We’ve got a new right winger, Eve Timbrell, who is very quick and has been providing plenty of assists. She delivers a good ball.

“We’re a fairly young side although Helen Tuckwell, who plays centre midfield, will be 50 next year. She’s a bit younger than me.”

Tuckwell’s husband Martin helps out with the goalkeeping coaching and also runs the line on matchdays and it’s clearly very much a family effort.

“Jodie Bailey’s twin sister Katie also plays either left or right back and their Aunty Angela, who is 53, is also in the squad,” said Messenger, who added that relative newcomers such as Lucy Scrannage, Phoebe McGouran and Scarlett Boyce had made a big impression.

Football has obviously been a big part of Messenger’s life even though she had to stop playing when she was at secondary school.

“I  played football with the boys at Watermoor Primary School but girls weren’t allowed to play football at Deer Park School when I was there,” said Messenger, who lives in Cirencester.

“I played rounders, netball and a bit of hockey; I didn’t start playing football again until I was 17.”

But even when she wasn’t playing, the game was still a big part of her life because her dad Brian Meredith and her brother Adrian Meredith were both well known players in and around the town.

And Messenger’s two sons – Macca and Regan – have also got the footballing bug.

Macca was a central midfielder for Chesterton – he also wore the number five shirt! – while Regan is an attacking midfielder in the current men’s flagship team in  Division One Central of the Southern League.

“I watch pretty much all his games,” said his mum. “Then we’ve got the ladies’ football on the Sundays.

“My kids always say to me that I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I didn’t have football!”

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