London Bees find themselves 10th in the Southern Premier Division and into the third round of the FA Cup as we approach the half-way point of the season. We sat down with Bees Head Coach, Marie Hourihan to get her thoughts on the first five months of the season.
What is your assessment on the first half of the season?
“We started the season really well and went unbeaten in September. Our last four games weren’t as good. We need to improve our home form going into the new year. It’s been difficult under the circumstances with me arriving late at the end of pre-season. The group we have now are going in the right direction and I’m looking forward to a positive 2023.”
Despite your late arrival into the Bees camp, we started the season very brightly with three wins from the opening five games. Was that the best way to start a new season?
“Absolutely, I couldn’t have asked anything more from the players. We had a very good victory away at Portsmouth but unfortunately lost two of our attacking players with serious injuries. This did have an impact on the team over the next couple of games. We have regrouped now and added some players to the squad as well as getting players back from injury and we are really looking forward to 2023.”
The London Bees have gone on a great run in the FA Cup, reaching the third round and will take on Lewes. How proud are you of this achievement?
“Very much so, especially after the circumstances around the Southampton fixture with us being 2-0 and then the game gets abandoned. The players reacted brilliantly, terrific win in the rearranged game and was the best performance of the season. We have now put down a marker in terms of our standards as a group going forward. We are now looking forward to the next game.”
Can we take this FA Cup form into the league campaign and start to climb the table?
“Definitely, that’s our target. As a group we have our own expectations and we know in terms of league position, we are well short from where we want to be. It’s something we know we need to put right. We have a run of home games in January, and we really want to put our mark down on those games and turn our form around at The Hive.”
What are your aims and targets going into the second half of the season?
“Consistency, if we can remain consistent with our performance level then the results will look after themselves. As a group I think we are more consistent in terms of the players fit and available which will have a massive impact. We are looking to add one or two to the squad over the next few weeks. I really think we will be in a strong position to kick-on in the second half of the season.”
It’s been a big year for the women’s game, with the Lionesses winning the Euros and the coverage of the Women’s Super League on Sky. What do you think needs to be done to keep the momentum going and getting more people engaged with the women’s game?
“Visibility is the key thing. We are getting a lot of coverage at the minute in the media, TV and newspapers with weekly columns reporting on the game. Attendances also need to continue. In the Women’s Super League there is an average attendance of 6,000 and we need those attendances to rise as the more fans that engage with the sport the more coverage it will get and continue to grow like it has done this year.”
For anyone thinking of coming down and watching London Bees what kind of football can they expect at The Hive?
“We also try and play with an attacking intent and play the game the right way. We have some exciting attacking players which fans will love. We really want to encourage people to come down and watch the women’s game. Lots of people are only interested in the WSL and Championship but tier 3 is also a very exciting league with some very good players playing in it. We have a great venue here to come and watch some great football.”