By Cheri Burns:
Hamilton Accies Ladies manager Kevin Murphy has big plans for his charges, insisting they can use their impressive end to last season as a springboard for future success.
After seeing the side bounce back from a poor start to the 2011-2012 campaign to finish 7th in the Scottish Women’s Premier League (SWPL), Murphy believes they are capable of challenging for trophies when competitive play kicks off again next year.
He said: ”Silverware is something we always aim to achieve at this club and next season will be no different. We set high standards and targets are also high.
“The players, as well as the coaching staff, are ambitious and we all feel a team like ours deserves to be in the mix for, and ultimately win, trophies.”
Despite being confident and assured in what his squad can do, the boss, who has previously worked with outfits including Motherwell, is realistic about the challenges that lie ahead.
“We are under no illusions about how difficult it will be to reach the top. My job is to ensure that all players are well drilled and are working hard to improve. If we manage that then hopefully we will be in contention for domestic honours.”
He singled out Accies‘ unity and determination as the attributes that have impressed him most.
“We have got a strong nucleus of players who are talented, dedicated and who stick together and do their best for each other, which is vital. Hard work and commitment are both key to doing well in any sport. I think we have that in abundance, and that in itself shows that we have made real progression, despite what the league table might have said this time last year.”
Murphy particularly praised strikers Cheryl McCulloch and Toni Mason for their efforts throughout the past twelve months.
He said: ”All of the players improved and developed in the last season, however, I do think our two award winners from the Player of the Year Awards deserve a special mention.
“The Players’ Player of the Year, Cheryl McCulloch, was a popular choice as she typifies the traits that are important to a Hamilton Accies player.
“She is physical, brave, technically sound and has come on so much in terms of her general fitness. Cheryl has been at the club for a number of years but I would say this is the first year she has truly reached anywhere near her full potential. That is down to Cheryl herself. It was fantastic to see that all the hard work and commitment she has put in is recognised by her playing colleagues.
“Toni Mason, who scooped the accolade for overall Player of the Year 2012-2012, was fantastic too. Toni, this time around in particular, has really bought into all aspects of our training and reaped the rewards of this. She is vocal on the pitch and is a born winner who is more influential than she realises.”
Looking to pre-season fixtures and beyond, the enthusiastic manager, who has also acted as Assistant Coach of Scotland’s Under 19s, said he was eagerly anticipating what 2013 would bring.
He explained that the main aim is to continue the work done and, in doing so, mature as a unit.
“We have gained so much experience in recent months. Our players never cease to amaze me with their willingness to learn. The main thing for me is that they build on this and become even more determined to improve as we move into the new campaign.
“I am delighted with the squad and that the majority look set to remain with us for the time being. Sometimes last year was a real test of character but everyone worked hard at training and I was delighted with what I saw on a weekly basis. We have great belief and hope going forward.”