By Charlie Bennett
FROM soldiers to social workers, Yeovil Town Ladies have a unique blend and striker Kelly Aldridge says it has earned them promotion to WSL 1 for the first time.
The Lady Glovers, one of the outside favourites for WSL 2 glory when the season started in February, guaranteed a spot in the top flight with a composed 2-0 victory away at London Bees last weekend, thanks to goals from Kayleigh Green and Nadia Lawrence.
It caps a memorable season for the side, also composed of students, housing officers and teachers, who travel from as far as Kent to get to training three times a week.
The club have been on an equally long journey from the middle of nowhere, having played in the South West Combination League just four years ago.
And Aldridge, 26, says their remarkable rise has been built on hard work, a can-do attitude and intense team spirit.
“We have come from nothing and some of the other clubs in the league do have more money, but I think we have proved that money can’t buy you everything,” she said. “It is a great story for the club. They have had harder times and come through them. Now, all that hard work in the last few years is paying off.
“Years and years ago, when I was playing for my local team, Gloucester City, I played Yeovil and they were just completely different.
“So, I have seen where the club was – and to be a part of where it now is is very sweet.”
Aldridge joined Yeovil midway through the season from Cardiff City and has made a major impact, scoring the winner in a crucial 1-0 victory against promotion rivals Everton two weeks ago.
The striker, a Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineer in the British Army, is frustrated that they have to wait until next September to start their WSL 1 journey, due to the league changing to a winter format.
But she will be kept busy, with a British Army vs German Army memorial match in a couple of weeks, followed by a three-month tour of Canada on a winter repair programme.
“People in the Army are very understanding. It is all about talking to them and making sure I can be at Yeovil and working round it,” she said. “It is very hectic. I fix weapons during the day and train with Yeovil at night and I wouldn’t change it.
“I think most of us travel almost two hours to get there. If anyone gets there in under an hour, then we are all very jealous.
“It is all for love, though. I love the club and I love football and I think it is part of the reason why we have done so well.”
The club have a chance to sign off in style when they host Sheffield today, with victory set to confirm them as champions ahead of Bristol City, who are level on points but have an inferior goal difference.
“The chance to lift the trophy is amazing and we are all buzzing for it. We just have to go and do what we do and get the win. It should be ours,” Aldridge said. “It would cap off a fairytale season. It has been a mad one and we have all enjoyed the ride.”