Last weekend marked the 100th game in charge of MK Dons women for manager Charlie Bill. Over the last 5 years, Charlie has played an influential part in the development of the women’s game in Milton Keynes.
During his time with the Dons, Charlie has been able to help and managed new pathways for young women to reach the highest levels they can be. His passion and enthusiasm for the women’s game is clear to see, as his leadership style and passions rubs off on his players and staff alike helping in creating a high-performance environment that breeds success.
During the build up to the Gillingham game this weekend. We were able to sit down with Charlie and speak to him about how the last 5 years have been, and how he is looking forward to the future of the women’s game, as well as the future of MK Dons Women.
Over the last one huundred games, how do you feel the journey has gone?
“The pleasing thing is every step we have taken has been a positive one, the upwards direction that we have gone on in the past 5 years has been phenomenal. This is both on & off the pitch. I can’t thank the players on the pitch & all the staff off of it for allowing this to happen. However, we won’t stop here there is so much more to come from this group!”
During the time you have been in charge, what would you say your most memorable experience was?
The most memorable experience was the relegation fight from last year, it was a journey that had its highs & lows. But it was such a fantastic ride! In the end we stuck to our identity & we knew that would get us out of the fight. It brought to players & staff closer then we had ever been. Some big results in my time, the 1-0 win against Oxford, 3-0 at Fratton Park against Portsmouth, County Cup win in the first season. So many memories”
During the last 100 games have you experienced any difficulties and how have you overcome them?
As good as the end was, last season was the most difficult season, where I questioned myself on many occasions. With 4 getting relegated & only gaining 2 points from our first 10. It was such a difficult time around Christmas. We felt we were doing the right things in games & training but we weren’t getting the results on the pitch. I love managing this side, but it was the first time both us as staff & players experienced that & it really did challenge our character & strength.
Where do you see the development of MK Dons women over the next 100 games?
I think we are only going to get stronger, we have a fantastic pathway with our RTC squads, now able to feed into our 16-19 Programme. For the first time we can keep players in our environment & develop them to feed them into our first team knowing the standards we ask for. I speak to lots of people on a weekly basis & I am so excited to see where the next months/years progress to.
What would you say to yourself now at the start of this journey, if you were to do it all again tomorrow?
The key thing I have learnt is to enjoy every moment. Even during the toughest of times, you are always learning. But if you can’t enjoy the journey you will start to fall out of love very quickly. Secondly, relationships are key to successful teams. You have to get to know everyone around the squad, staff etc the closer relationships you build the more togetherness you will get and the group will work harder for you.
Laura Bright MK Dons Club Captain describing the impact Charlie Bill has had on MK Dons over the last 5 years.
“The club has been transformed over the last five years, both on and off the pitch, and Charlie has been at the heart of it. His dedication, commitment and passion are unrivalled, and when you add to that his tactical understanding and coaching ability, you have a manager that is very easy to buy into. One of the biggest impacts Charlie has had at the club is helping to shape the values and commitments, that underpin everything we do. He also has a very clear philosophy and has worked hard to bring that to life, with the ‘MK Way’ being a key driver for the success we’re now starting to see on the pitch.
The majority of my time at MK has been with Charlie at the helm, and I can honestly say that he’s one of the very best I’ve worked with, and I can’t wait to see how far he can take this club”
Chloe Sansom – MK Dons Vice Captain
“The journey this club has been on over the last five years has been huge, and Charlie has been the turning point. His commitment and dedication to this club, both on and off is the pitch exceeds all expectations of us as players, and along with his passion for the game and this squad, you can’t ask for anything more in a manager.
Charlie prides himself off core values and commitments, and I truly believe this is what has taken this club to the next level. It may sound so simple, but having everyone on the same page, and everyone buying into the same standards and expectations, makes everything on the pitch fall into place so much easier. Charlie’s level of tactical understanding supported by the technical sessions he can deliver has allowed everyone to make huge steps in their own development whilst playing here at MK.
Off the pitch, Charlie is one of, if not the most understanding and down to earth people you’ll ever meet. As much as he wants to see the results and performances on the pitch, he has his utmost interest in a players life outside of football and will look to support this where he can and where he feels necessary. This has been massive in bringing the group so much closer, both staff and players, as well as fans, and has ultimately created our ‘MK Family’.
Charlie brought me to this club almost 3 seasons ago, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He has supported me through so much, helping me find my love for the game again and supporting my decision to extend my family and being there every step of the way to get me back involved with the club I love playing for. He really is one of the best that I’ve worked with, and I can’t wait to see how far he can take this club”
Ethan Wallbank – MK Dons Women First Team GK Coach
“To have reached a century of games as Manager of MK Dons FC Women is a remarkable achievement, and what a ride it’s been for Charlie, and the collective, across the past 5 years.
The journey that MK Dons FC Women has undertaken under the management of Charlie has been one full of incredible high’s, but has also included some terrible low’s along the way. Nevertheless, the underpinning values within the group, particularly the togetherness & unity within has been instrumental to the success and growth”
Charlie’s passion, drive and ambition is contagious, and has been transmitted onto every individual within the group, players and staff included. It has been a huge pleasure to have worked alongside Charlie during this period & I am looking forward to what’s next, with plenty more to come…”
Mark Dass – MK Dons Women Assistant Manager
“100 games in charge is a huge achievement, and the whole group have been brilliant in showing such appreciation and recognition of that this week.
Charlie has been, by a long way, the most instrumental figure and driving force for the club’s huge progress in recent years – both on and off the pitch.
Competing with many strongly-resourced teams at this level should be an ‘impossible task’, but the outstanding dedication and standard of work that he demonstrates, on a daily basis, has us performing far above and beyond where we should be.
From building such a powerful and united culture throughout the group, to further developing the pathway for young players up to the First Team, Charlie’s impact across so many different areas has been phenomenal”.
Special thanks to the staff and team of MK Dons Women for organising the presentation shirt for Charlie. Plus all players and staff that were involved in the interview.
Header – Charlie Bill 100 – Copywrite MK Dons
Main Images – CTF Photography – Christopher Foxwell