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By Faye Hackwell Grays Athletic’s new Her Game Too Ambassador is hoping to encourage more women to become involved in all elements of football through her new role.

Sarah Smallbone has been following the Essex non-league side since her dad first took her when she was ten and has been to around 600 games home and away.

A lot has changed at Grays since Sarah’s first visit, with the club being without a permanent home for the past 13 years, and, as a fan, she has experienced some real low points as well as highs.

The men’s first team currently plays in the eighth tier of the English football pyramid in the Isthmian League North Division, but Sarah has seen the 133-year old supporter-owned club play as high up as the National League, from which they were relegated in 2009/10.

Despite years of ground-sharing and wrangling with planners over where to build their new stadium, Sarah has many happy memories of watching her team’s success on the pitch.

She said: “Aside from FA Trophy back-to-back wins in 2004/05 and 2005/06, my best memories are of watching Grays at their old ground, The Rec.

“I remember the atmosphere, with people all the way around the ground - including on the balconies of flats that overlooked the pitch - and the tea bar that had a spoon on a string!

“My worst memory has to be the club having to leave their ground, dropping four leagues to what was the Ryman League Division 1 North, and effectively becoming homeless.”

Sarah hopes promoting to aims and work of Her Game Too at her club and in the wider community will help to introduce other women and girls to the game.

“I really like to help make a difference and I believe in the work that Her Game Too does. 


“Through my ambassador role, I want to encourage more women to get involved with not just playing and watching football, but to get behind the scenes – whether that is in coaching, marketing or in the boardroom.


“I would love to see every club from grassroots up have a women’s team.

“Seeing women play would be a great way of encouraging more females to get involved in football, in whatever form that may be.”


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