Wivelsfield Green goalkeeper Helen Bashford turned goal-poacher on Sunday when she scored for the first time in her career.
The Wivi stalwart, who donned her gloves again this season after being lured out of retirement, hit her side’s final goal in their record 13-0 victory over Dorking to fulfil a career dream.
Bashford, who has enjoyed a magnificent season between the sticks, earning four player-of-the-match nominations, took advantage of the side’s uncatchable fourth place and the state of the game against bottom club Dorking to bring herself back into the action after earlier handing the gloves to rookie Daisy Eden.
She told Sent Her Forward: “We can’t go up the table and we can’t go down, [so] for the last few games I have been giving Daisy some time in goal, so I have only been playing one half.
“During Sunday’s game, when we were playing brilliantly and winning very comfortably, I was itching to get on the pitch and score my first ever goal. Some of the team told me to get on. I did – and I stuck myself up front.
“I got myself in a position to shoot – and did – and scored.”
Bashford, who despite retaking the reins as manager, had been reticent about denying another member of the team playing time, immediately withdrew herself after scoring “to give another player another chance on the pitch”.
The 26-year-old, who has been with Wivelsfield since they formed four seasons ago, has been playing competitively for 10 years without ever getting the chance to score before.
Ironically, she did find herself briefly on the score sheet earlier this season when an electronic file to the Full-Time website mistakenly listed her as the scorer of a goal actually belonging to the player next to her in the alphabetical listing – Lauren Amos.
But Sunday’s was her first experience of the acclaim that goes with getting a proper goal, no matter what the score or who the opponents.
She said: “Yes, it is the first goal I have ever scored, and probably the last! I am not known for my abilities anywhere on the pitch but between the sticks. I lack the fitness, for starters. But I have always dreamed of scoring a goal, just to share in the elation that all the outfield players experience when they score.
“And I was so pleased when I did get on the score sheet, even if it was in a game when the result was never in doubt.
“I cannot take anything away from Dorking, though. They never dropped their heads and continued to try and play football – an all-round nice team.”
Bashford’s goal earned Wivi a club-record win and cemented their fourth-place finish in the South East Counties League Division One West, even taking a little of the glory away from star striker Emma Chrimes’ seven-goal haul in the game.
It also helped turned their goal difference to plus-18 when after a disastrous opening four games – during which they played title rivals Worthing Minors and Seahaven Harriers three times – it had been minus-22.
Bashford added: “We had a terrible start to the season, and if the fixtures had maybe gone our way a bit more and we could have played the likes of Worthing Minors and Seahaven Harriers further into the season, things may have been a bit different.
“All the same, we have to be able to compete with the top sides at any time during the season, so we can have no complaints.”
Wivelsfield’s newest goalscorer is uncertain whether she will continue playing next season, having already been persuaded to return to the pitch once, although she will no doubt still be working hard behind the scenes, as she has every month since taking on secretarial and managerial duties at the club.
But whatever she decides, it seems there’s little chance that it will be as a striker.