Marieanne Spacey-Cale has pulled off one of the biggest signings ever seen in the Women’s National League by securing the signature of Northern Ireland international, Laura Rafferty. Rafferty signs from Brighton & Hove Albion although spent last season on loan at Bristol City.
Rafferty started her football career with Saints at academy level and has played for Chelsea, Oxford United and Brighton & Hove Albion. As well as plenty of Super League experience. Rafferty has also picked up twenty-nine caps for Northern Ireland since making her debut in 2013 against Republic of Ireland.
She told the club’s website. “I’m back at my own club, and the strides the club have made since I’ve been away and the ones that they’re looking to continue to make is exciting for everyone. I’m just happy to be a part of it and hopefully really push that forward too.
“I’ve been at the highest of highs in football and the lowest of lows and coming back at this time when I know the club are looking to really move forward, it’s the same ambition that I have and it just fits very nicely and I’m ready to embrace this new challenge.”
This is an exciting move for the club and the National League. Being based on the south coast I have been paying attention to the rise of Saints for the last few years. The club has officially never drawn or lost a league game as their only dropped points, a 0-0 draw against rivals Southampton Women, was wiped from the record books when the league was cancelled due to COVID.
After being denied promotion due to the leagues being cancelled the club were awarded promotion by the FA as part of their Upward Movement application process. While some may not like promotion in this manner, no one can deny that Saints were not fully deserving of their position in the National League South.
Rafferty added, “I want to be the motivator of the team; I want to be able to drive and bring everyone together. I know the club have an amazing value already. I’m really excited to get stuck in and keep pushing my hometown forward.
“Experience has a lot to play in things that I hope to bring to the club. I know I’m going to learn a lot from the girls at the club, from Marianne, which I can add to my game. For me as well, it’s what can I help with? Whether that’s younger players or strikers against me in training as I’m a centre half, how can I make it easier for you or harder for me? We’re a collective team and we’ve got the same goals, we’ve got one ambition and that’s to keep moving forwards.”
Photo: Isabelle Field