Ronnie to make it ten

Wednesday 3 July 2002

Ronnie Gibbons is one of the players you immediately associate with Fulham's Ladies team. But her young age surprisingly conceals the fact that she has now been a Fulham player for an incredible nine years.

Having just signed a one-year contract, Gibbons is all set to reach that ten-year landmark. Talk could even turn to the possibility of a testimonial.

Yet looking ahead to the forthcoming season, the Republic of Ireland international doesn't appear overly concerned about landmarks or records.

"I'm hoping to get in the first team more frequently next season," said Gibbons, "We've got the best squad in the country so I'm going to have to battle for my place, but I'm going to give it my all and hopefully I'll start more matches."

Fulham's Ladies will still be the only professional side in the country, but with Arsenal's Ladies turning semi-professional - the tide could well be turning towards a fully professional ladies game.

Of course, having professional status will no doubt serve as motivation to Fulham's opponents. It's hard to imagine anything more pleasing for the opposition than beating a team of full pro's - as Ronnie recognised:

"Clubs are obviously more aware of the increased competition as a result of us being professional. Every game that we play next season is going to be like a Cup final because everyone will want to beat us.

"We've spoken to Marieanne Spacey about the teams in the top division. We know they are going to be tougher than the teams we played last season.

"The structure of the Women's Premier League is pretty similar to the men's league. You have a few sides that you would consider main contenders like Arsenal, Doncaster Belles, Charlton, Tranmere and Fulham. But every team will pose a challenge."