When the notification appeared on my phone the words that stood out were Pompey Women and Danielle Rowe. In light of Portsmouth’s announcement that they are moving to a semi-professional model and the announcements that Hannah Haughton, Annie Rolfe and Emma Jones have signed contracts, I was expecting to see that Rowe was the next in the series of announcements. However, I was shocked to see that she was departing the club.
I fully expected that Danielle would lead Portsmouth into a renewed promotion battle next season. She is a club legend, having amassed 129 appearances for the Blues.
She took over the captaincy after the departure of Jade Bradley to AFC Bournemouth and under her captaincy the club has lifted the Hampshire and PDFA Cups. Along with narrowly missing out on promotion from the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier Division.
When I first became a regular watching Pompey, Danielle was a holding midfielder and one of the best in the division, also occasionally filling in at centre back. She has since made the transition to defence permanent, forming a strong partnership with Jazz Younger.
First team manager Jay Sadler told the club’s website, “She should be proud of everything she has achieved, being part of some special moments and she will rightly be remembered as an iconic figure. I want to place on record my thanks for her brilliant contributions to the club’s success, throughout her years here, and I wish her the very best for the future.” All very true sentiments.
Given Danielle’s stature within the club and her importance – she made twenty-eight appearances last season, the joint highest with four other teammates – it saddens and surprises me that her exit was not her decision.
On Friday evening Danielle shared on Twitter, “I am gutted to say that I have unknowingly played my last game for Pompey Women and will not be returning this season. Never thought I would have to write something like this but I am so sad by the way it has ended. It was not my decision to leave and of course that hurts in itself.
However, I’m upset about the way in which the decision has been made and the conflicting and limited communication that has been given.
“Each year at the club has been so enjoyable, we have achieved so much together as a team and I have given my absolute all for the club during my 5 seasons. Unfortunately, I feel this has been ignored due to the way my journey has ended, as I am saddened to be leaving the club feeling disrespected and confused.”
The exact reasons behind Danielle’s departure will likely remain a mystery to those outside the club but both parties will move on, Danielle will be inundated with offers and Jay Sadler’s side will continue to strengthen and push for the league title and automatic promotion into the FA Women’s Championship.
Given that five years since Portsmouth inducted Gemma Hillier into the club’s Hall of Fame, I would say that it is about time that another women’s player is recognised in that group and I would suggest that Danielle Rowe should be top of that list.