Thom: I know a little bit about from your time at Portsmouth FC Women but I believe you’ve been in the game for a long time?
Lauren: Yeah, I joined Chelsea Women when I was eight years old. I went through their academy system and left at nineteen after being in their Development Squad for three years. I had a glimpse of first-team football but decided to do make a move onto first team football more consistently. So I dropped down to what was the Women’s Premier League at the time and joined Queens Park Rangers. That was one of the best things I could have done. It gave me confidence and made me realise that I really wanted to this to happen and stay involved in football.
I decided that to make the move to Portsmouth FC Women. I knew a couple of the players there and decided to make my way down south. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Portsmouth, I was there for two years and I thrived under Jay Sadler. Watford Ladies had been chasing me since Christmas 2017 but I was still living down south and the travel was just too much. I moved to London back in May and decided that now was the right time to re-approach the prospect of playing for Watford and here I am.
When you say they chased you, how do transfers come about? Do Watford just phone you up and ask if you want to play?
The way it works is that the club’s general manager will be contacted, Ed Henderson at Watford initially put in a seven-day approach request to Portsmouth. When you put in this approach it can either be accepted or rejected by the club. If it’s accepted then the interested club can have seven days to talk to you, which is what Watford did. Jay said to me “Look, Watford have put this approach in for you, do you want to have a chat with them?” I said yes because there is no harm in it. At this point I was looking at two and a half hour commutes to training although they were in the league above! It was a hard decision but my heart was with Portsmouth.
Since my time in Portsmouth, I’ve become a Pompey fan. I absolutely adore the club and I’ve gained some amazing friendships throughout the club so I just couldn’t leave.
When I moved back to London things were a little bit different. During the offseason (June) you’re not technically tied to a club so you don’t have to put in the seven-day approach as the paperwork from the forthcoming season has not been completed. Watford approached me again and this was the right time for me. The club is only twenty miles from my house which was perfect. At the moment I am thoroughly enjoying my football.
Was it just Watford or were there any other offers elsewhere? Being back in London you were in a position to look at a number of different clubs.
With living in London you do have access to so many clubs and London teams do tend to have the pick of the bunch because the area is so densely populated. When you think of the Yeovil Town Ladies and the Bristol City Women areas where there are only a handful of clubs that you can go to and people are still having to travel quite far to get to those clubs whereas London is so accessible.
Watford were the ones that wanted me and they were the ones who approached me. That made my decision. I could have looked at other clubs but it’s nice to be at a club that wanted and needed you. At the time they were rebuilding a new squad after being placed in the National League South from the WSL 2.
Does that come with a bit of pressure? Is it still quite a professional club?
Oh it’s massively professional! It’s one of the most professional clubs that I’ve been at and bear in mind I’ve been at Chelsea. I feel for myself for what they ask of the players it’s the same. Everything is done in such a professional manner that I really can see the club going far.
Are they still set up in the same way as a WSL team but just playing in a lower league?
Our idea is that if we do it now then we will carry it on in future and our aim is to get promoted into the Championship. If we are doing it now then it won’t stop when we get there and it will be a natural progression.
How often are you training at Watford?
Unfortunately, we are only training twice a week at the moment. I believe that quite a few teams in our league train three times a week. Because we train at the typical hours of all other sides, including grassroots clubs there aren’t too many facilities that we can go to. At the moment we are not at the training ground because we are currently building a domed pitched as there are no floodlights. We train at 8 o’clock at night so need the floodlights. It’s nearly finished so hopefully we’ll be in there in the new year which may mean that we move to train three times a week.