The perfect season

Friday 3 May 2002

With the 5-0 win away at Langford on Wednesday, Fulham Ladies completed the remarkable feat of winning every League game that they have played this season. Of course they have also won every Cup game as well - so far.

The big one is still to come. This is the one that everyone wants, the one that makes the rest of the footballing world sit up and take notice, the one that you can look back at many years later with pride and satisfaction - the FA Cup Final. As treasured and as sought after as the men's trophy, this is a competition that the team want to win badly, and if it perfectly rounds off a one hundred per cent season - well, all the better.

One of the problems about being part of such a successful side is that it's hard to keep track of the number of goals that you score. The closest that midfielder Katie Chapman can come to her personal tally, is that it's "a lot"!

Effervescent, and exuding confidence, the England international spoke this week about Monday's upcoming game.

"The feeling's very good at the moment," she said, "Everyone's excited and we're training hard with just that one game in mind. It's a more relaxed week in some ways but in others it's still hard, and we've been working hard on the game itself and the game plan.

"I played against Doncaster when I was at Millwall a few years ago, but I haven't seen them this season so I don't know exactly what they're going to be like. We've had them watched and I know they like the ball over the top, so we'll be looking out for that one. They're a very physical side; they'll be out there fighting for the game.

"They're in second place in the League so they're obviously a very, very good side, and there is no way that we are going to underestimate them. Karen Walker is a big threat for them up front. She plays for England as well so I know quite a bit about her, she's very strong and very good in the air; she'll give us some problems.

"They'll be very physical, that's the way they play - they get the ball and they play it over the top - it works for them so you can't argue with it. But when we play a team like that, we do have to be aware of what they can do and we have to be physical ourselves, but mainly it's about concentrating on our own game. We need to know that we can win the battle, but if we focus on our game plan then that should be enough.

"Losing the Cup Final last year has definitely made us more determined. To play all those hard games leading up to the Final only to lose the last one is devastating. We know that having lost one last year we're not going to lose another one.

"We've had a great season, we've been very successful, we've won the League and all the other Cups, this is the last one now and it's the biggest one. You have to be confident going out to play the game, there's no room for any negativity, and without being overconfident, we all really believe that we can win this game."

It promises to be quite a match, and a very historic one too. Can any fans out there risk looking back in years to come and having to say, "I wasn't there"?

The AXA F.A. Women's Cup Final - Monday 6th May. Venue - Selhurst Park, Crystal Palace. Kick off - 1.00pm. Don't miss it!