Women's Team

My Favourite Game: Keira Walsh (part two!)

My Favourite Game: Keira Walsh (part two!)
Hundreds of unforgettable moments... how do you pick just one?

For lifelong City fan Keira Walsh - living the dream for all of us - the decision is probably even harder!

Tasked with ranking her favourite all-time City game, she admitted she couldn't choose between two.

In part one, presented by Marathon Bet, you read she selected the 2017 FA Women's Cup Final...

Which other made the cut?

The pick

The Continental Cup Final in 2014 - the first year as a professional Club - definitely is a massively important game for me.

I wasn’t expecting to start. I’d only been at the club for a few months, I hadn’t signed a professional contract and we had some big players in that team.

I told my parents not to come down to the game because it would be a waste of a trip - that I wouldn’t play and that they would be better off watching at home!

Nick pulled me in before the game and told me I’d be starting. It was a bit of a shock. Obviously, I was buzzing but I wasn’t expecting it.

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Pre-match

When you looked at Arsenal’s line-up compared to ours – I remember looking at their line-up in the changing room – their quality was far greater.

We had something a lot of others teams didn’t have: determination, togetherness – and you could see that – but we had a lot of kids playing (me, Georgia Brougham, Natasha Flint, Alex Brooks) and players who were inexperienced at playing at the top level.

Before we started the game, me and Georgia looked at each other and we were both so nervous. We were in the same boat, which helped a little bit and at one point in the changing room, we just started laughing, thinking: ‘What is going on?!’

It was such a big game – the first potential trophy we could win as Man City. Not that there was pressure – no-one expected it in the first season.

The game

We went out and the crowd was big – one of the biggest I’d played in – and of course, it was the occasion of a cup final. It was really special for me to be a part of.

When we first started the game, in the first 30 minutes, we were under the cosh and a few of us looked at each other but Jill Scott and Izzy Christiansen were shouting: ‘Keep going. Come on!’

Arsenal were on top for a strong period in the game. We struggled to get into it. At a few points, we’d be lying if we said we thought we couldn't lose. The game got on top of us a little bit.

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At half-time, Nick Cushing always knew right thing to say in the right moment. ‘You can’t do any worse than what you’re doing now. You can only lose. It’s a game of football. Go out and enjoy it. What’s the worst that could happen?’

Because we had so many young players, that resonated with a lot of us. It was our first cup final as underdogs and no-one expected anything. In the second half, we were much better and we found our rhythm.

The magic moment

The game was getting on. I was thinking: ‘Please don’t go to extra-time or penalties!’ I kept thinking that in my head.

Then the goal went in – and I didn’t have any question that it would: Krystle Johnston put in fantastic cross and Izzy got on the end of it. It was the perfect cross and a perfectly timed run. It was only ever going to go in.

I sprinted from one end of the pitch to the other, screaming the whole way! I was so out-of-breath by the time I got there. We all jumped on top of each other.

It was a special moment for Izzy and she deserved that – she’d worked so hard since joining City. I think it became a speciality of hers because in the following season, she got something like 20 goals.

It was a team goal too in the moment because we’d all worked so hard in that game and we’d done so well to keep in it. It’s something we deserved at that moment.

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Hanging on

Another thing that stuck out for me was the last ten minutes. We were winning and I looked over to the side where Arsenal were making a substitution and Kelly Smith was coming on.

I thought: ‘That’s arguably England’s best-ever player coming on and I’m probably going to be marking her. She’ll always be a better player than me but she can’t control how hard I work: how much high pressure I put on, how much I try to tackle her. She can’t stop me from running hard and working hard.’

It’s something I tried to do and she didn’t score so it must have worked for a little bit!

The celebrations

We were absolutely buzzing to get the win because nobody expected anything from us. We hadn’t done well in the league against Arsenal and although it wasn’t payback exactly, it was nice to put the results right that we hadn’t had in the league.

I always say: there’s no better feeling than to win a trophy as an underdog. When people don’t believe you can win and back the other team and just talk about how good the other players are, it makes you think: ‘Alright, we’re doing to go out and show you.’

That’s what we tried to do and we did and we ended up winning the game. I think the trophy was paraded around Manchester for the next six months! It was massive.

I’ve still got a picture on my phone of me, Tash, Alex and Georgia all holding the trophy on the night. It’s a moment that will stick with me – to win that trophy, aged 17, with the Club I’ve supported since I can remember, with three of my best friends at the time, was a really special moment.

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