It’s no exaggeration to state that Watford Ladies were on the brink of folding a few months ago.
The club had no Head Coach, players were told they could find other clubs (and some did), and the team was pulled out of the Women’s FA Cup before a tie away at Doncaster Rovers Belles, because there were not enough senior players available.
In short, players left at the club were left in limbo, and for some like long serving winger Charlotte Kerr, the future was uncertain.
“Its been quite emotional, especially at the start when we had to drop out of the FA Cup and nothing could be said at the time why that was because we didn’t know the full story either,” she said.
“I’ve been at Watford for about eight years, so when there was a chance of the team folding, I didn’t know what to do because I didn’t want to go to another team – I just wanted to do what we could to get the team back together.”
Having been in the FA WSL 2 since its inception in 2014, the club was now in dire striates, and having finished runners-up to Sunderland Ladies in the last season of the National Premier League in 2013, all of a sudden a lot of hard work, appeared to have been undone.
“We’d come so far with John Salomon (former manager) taking us into the FA WSL, and then to see it all disappear, it was awful and hard to take.
“We had a lot of players come in after Christmas, who then left, which left us with not even half a team.”
Fortunately for 22–year-old Kerr, the appointment of former Charlton boss Keith Boanas as Head Coach, and Ed Henderson as Interim General Manager, has seen an upturn in the club’s fortunes, which resulted in the completion of the recent Spring Series.
Boanas, who Women’s Soccer Zone interviewed at the start of the season, had virtually no time to assemble his squad, coming into an environment where the remaining players were low on confidence, and needing a fresh start.
Under his leadership, Watford not only defied many people’s predictions that they could go the whole season without a win, but they were competitive in almost all of their nine fixtures.
Kerr, was full of praise for her new manager.
“Keith has been brilliant and is probably one of the best coaches I have ever worked with,” she said.
“He brought in some brilliant players through the connections he’s got in women’s football, so he got a team together and put us out for our first game, which I honestly didn’t think would happen.
“There’s only around five of us left from last season and the team is now really close, which wasn’t the case last year. I think that has made a big difference to our results.”
The challenge now for Kerr, who has come through the Watford ranks having been at the club since the age of 14, was to convince the new Head Coach that she was good enough to be part of his plans.
She certainly took on that challenge, and was one of Watford’s standout players amongst a group, who at the start of the season, hardly knew each other having been brought together at short notice.
Kerr was one of only three players to start every game for Watford, and was joint top scorer with three goals.
Wins came away at Oxford United Women and at home to Sheffield Ladies, and while they lost five of their nine games, only one of those fixtures was a loss by more than one goal – against eventual champions Everton Ladies.
The key now will be for Watford Ladies to try and keep hold of Boanas as they plan for the upcoming season, which starts in September.
The former Estonia Head Coach’s agreement was only for the Spring Series, and now Watford FC will have to convince him that they are serious about mounting a charge for promotion come the new season, because if they are not, Boanas will have little option than to seek opportunities elsewhere.
When Women’s Soccer Zone spoke to Boanas after the team’s last game of the Spring Series against Millwall Lionesses, he was adamant the situation was in the club’s hands.
“I won’t lie, I have had discussions with other clubs, not just in women’s football, but men’s football as well.
“But I made promises to some of these players that if the club works with us then I will stay with them and look to go forward with them – conversations are ongoing.
“I’m a football person and I’m grateful to Watford for getting me back on the training field and working with players. My rewards come from seeing players developing and doing well, and that is where my targets lie.”
While Boanas discusses his future with the club, Kerr and her teammates will now have a couple of months off before returning for training ahead of the new season in the autumn, and after a promising Spring Series under the former Charlton boss, she is hoping he will be at the helm when they return.
“I really hope he stays on because he’s made such a positive change and the girls are all happy.
“I know if he stays he can bring in some better players because we need a bigger squad and maybe more of a challenge for places.
“I think we can come out fighting even stronger next season if he stays.”