Interview: Chichester & Selsey’s Molly Thorns

This week I was fortunate enough to spend some time and catch up with Chichester & Selsey‘s Molly Thorn. We discuss a host of topics from her introduction into football, how she dealt with lockdown and the lengths that she is going to support her partner and teammate, Rebecca Bell, overcome her recent ACL injury.

Firstly, congratulations on recently becoming an aunty! As someone who is an uncle, and recently became a father, having a little one join the family is amazing isn’t it?
Thank you! It really is and she is such a little blessing that has been added to the family! It’s unfortunate that they live far away but it makes the moments when we see them even more special!

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a 20-year-old full back/winger from Chichester, with aspirations to play in the third tier of women’s football. My family often wonder where I get my sporting side from because no one in my family enjoys watching or participating in sport, but I have managed to drag them to a few games of mine.

Who was your biggest footballing inspiration while growing up?
I never really had a footballing inspiration growing up as such until the age of 14 when I met Matt Wright and Emma Alexandre who coached me a few times and since then being under them they have been the people who have helped me to grow, not only as a footballer but an individual.

I have been fortunate enough to be coached by Matt and Emma when I joined Chichester College in 2016, where Emma also helped me to learn and develop my love for coaching. I have had a lot of successful footballing moments under the both of them, such as winning the People’s Cup in 2018, being selected for Sussex School’s, winning the County Cup and The National Cup Finals in 2019. They have been a real confidence boost for me, I have not have had such support and belief from anyone else growing up like I have from them and I won’t ever be able to thank them enough for it.

Now having Emma coming back from suffering from an ACL injury herself and soon to be back playing; to share the pitch with her will be an unreal and happy moment and one I’m very much looking forward too.

Photo: Sheena Booker

Could you tell me about your experience at youth football?
I started playing football around the age of 5 to 6 years old. I grew up being the only girl playing in boy’s teams as there were no girl’s teams around when I was younger.

I was in and around boy’s teams up until the age of 15 playing for Selsey’s U16’s. I found it quite hard to fit in so I left after 6 months to which I later discovered Chichester City and joined them when I turned 16. This is where I was positioned a left back and have been playing there ever since. However, come near the end of last season I was moved onto the left wing. At first I wasn’t overly keen but with time I am now surprisingly finding it a much more comfortable position.

You were a regular within the Sussex Schools squads. How important was that experience in your football development?
Being selected to go to trials when I was in college was already a big confidence boost for me as growing up I wasn’t really given any opportunities in football, so when getting the announcement that I had made it into Sussex schools U19’s was a real buzz feel moment for me! I was selected for a few games but unfortunately injured my ankle and therefore I didn’t get many more opportunities after that.

The Football Association took the decision to void last season. How do you personally feel about the decision?
It was a situation out of everyone’s control and probably a hard action for the football association to take. I personally think it was the right decision to make because there was still a large part of the season left to play and so I think it was the right choice in the matter.

Prior to lockdown how do you feel the season was going for you personally and for the team as a whole?
I personally felt as if the season last year was going through a transition period with new coaches and players for both teams. Therefore the season wasn’t going as well as everyone had hoped for due to the fact that players we taking longer than expected to bond which was having an impact with the results on match days.

How did you spend your time (and keep yourself entertained) during lockdown?
Lockdown was very difficult, mentally it took its toll quite badly for me at time. (no doubt it did for others too) but this was mainly due to the fact that I spent most of lockdown alone, so motivation levels were quite low.

However, I am lucky to live in an area that is very open to the countryside that I had not really explored before, so I was walking the dog every day to find new areas, as well as staying as active as I could in the long run. I would also sometimes deliver my Grandad shopping when he needed it. It was hard leaving it on the doorstep and shouting hello from the window above and not going in for the usual chit chat. But this is where lockdown has also made you see things from a whole new different perspective, a more positive one. Such as, not taking the little things for granted and being able to see the people who are most important to you and to cherish every moment.

Photo: Epic Action Imagery

Since lockdown, your club, Chichester City, has re-formed as Chichester & Selsey. How has the transition been for you?
Being in and around Chichester City since the age of 16, I personally thought it was all a bit strange changing name and moving away from Oakland’s Park, but having the same bunch of girls and staff around as last season, coming back really was no different when returning after lockdown! It is a new era for us all and one I’m excited about for the club.

Sadly your partner and Chichester & Selsey team mate, Rebecca Bell, suffering the heartbreak of an ACL injury. You have decided to help by raising money towards a knee operation by running a half marathon.
Since finding out the news that Bec had recently ruptured her ACL for the second time in the space of 18 months has been hard to take in for herself and for anyone that knows her too.

I didn’t know Bec the first time that she did her ACL, but meeting her in pre-season last year, getting to know her, seeing and watching Bec’s determination and progression into coming back has been amazing to watch! But now having to watching her have to go through this again is heartbreaking.

I have decided to do a half marathon to help raise funds for Bec’s knee operation because going through the NHS is unfortunately out of the equation and even more so due to current events, this means that Bec is having to go private. Players that have experienced this injury and have gone private for ACL reconstruction will know that it is very expensive and way over the £800 mark that I am trying to raise to help support Bec and her family through the costing of this operation.

Rebecca Bell vs Crawley Wasps. Photo: Sheena Booker

How is Rebecca feeling since the injury?
Due to the fact that both injuries to her knee have both reacted in different ways it is still taking its time for the news to sink in. which I’m sure would be the same for anyone who experiences the same injury again! Bec has already had a lot of support through the club, as she is still being involved with training and match days as she would do normally, along with the continuing support from family and friends.

I know that Bec is finding this difficult to deal with but she puts on a brave face and is very strong (not that she believes she is). I’m proud of her for how she is coping with all this and I can’t wait to see her back out on that pitch where she belongs! Come back number two is pending!

How is the training going?
Seeing as I only decided to do a half marathon the day after Bec’s scan result (22nd September) training has been slow, yet successful and will gradually build up! My first training day was only going to be a simple 6k however I pushed it to a 10.

That 10k was the first one in a very long time! Being a footballer some people seem to think that this will be a bit of an easier challenge, but that’s not the case… because the people that know me will tell you just how much I hate running (believe it or not) so this for me is a challenge itself.

I originally set the Go-Fund me page at £500 but we exceeded that in just under 3 days which was not expected at all! Now setting a new target of £800. With just under £100 to go to reaching our second target is amazing and it means a lot to us.

We cannot thank the people enough who have supported and donated so far! I would love to get as close to £1000 as possible in order to support the best I can, no one should have to go through this horrific injury at all, let alone twice! Doing this run means a lot to me and if you could all continue supporting and donating to raise as much money as we can for Bec’s Operation it would be hugely appreciated!

Link to Go Fund me page Below

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/molly-thorns1?utm_term=Wk26qQXEP

Going back to this season, what are your personal targets for the rest of the season?
For me, my personal targets are to just keep developing and building myself as a player to hopefully in the near future make my debut for the first team.