FORMER Windsor High student Kerys Harrop led her side out at Wembley as Birmingham City Ladies captain in front of a record 35,271 SSE Women’s FA Cup final crowd on Sunday.
And the 26-year-old central defender – who has been with Blues Ladies as a one-club stalwart for six years – was determined to stress the positives despite the pain of her side’s 4-1 defeat to a big-spending Manchester City Women team packed with internationals.
“We’ve got to be proud to get here in the first place, and it’s been a fantastic day,” said Harrop, a former student at King Edward’s College, Stourbridge. “It was fantastic to see so many people here. I went into the crowd after and there were people coming up to me and saying ‘this is the first time I’ve come to a game, we loved it and we’ll be back next year’, and that’s what it’s all about. It’s about inspiring those young girls and families to want to come back and get involved in football.
“I was gutted we didn’t win it but these kind of experiences spur you on to want to win it next year.”
The challenge facing Solihull-based Birmingham in their first Wembley appearance was illustrated by the City goalscorers with Ireland international Megan Campbell swinging in the 18th-minute free-kick for England ace Lucy Bronze to head City in front. A Bronze cross was crashed home by England cap Izzy Christiansen and Campbell’s 32nd-minute cross was headed home by two-time FIFA World Player of the Year Carli Lloyd for 3-0.
Although Blues substitute Charlie Wellings pulled one back in the 74th minute, another Lionesses and GB star - Jill Scott - made it 4-1 ten minutes from time, the ball across the area supplied by Toni Duggan, an England regular who started on City’s bench.
“We’re still early in our project,” added Harrop, an FA Cup winner with Blues at Ashton Gate five years ago, “we’ve only been together as a team for four or five months, City have been together now for two or three years. That’s what we want to aspire to – winning trophies and winning trebles and I think that will come.
“We’ve got a lot of youngsters and it’s a great experience for them,” said Harrop of a club which includes Connie Schofield, from Quinton, “you use the experience of seeing Man City lift the trophy as well, that’s where we want to be, lifting the cup.”