Having come through the ranks at Charlton Athletic, Ann-Marie Heatherson has won both the League and FA Cups and was voted FA Young Player of the Year in 2003/04. After a spell in America playing for Buffalo Flash, she is now hoping her experience will help Bristol Academy through this season. Annie took time out to give WSR the lowdown on her new club.
INS: Lillie Billson (Watford), Helen Bleazard (Yeovil), Siobhan Chamberlain (Chelsea), Alex Culvin, Jess Fishlock (AZ Alkmaar), Ann-Marie Heatherson (Millwall), Anouk Hoogendijk (FC Utrecht), Jade Radburn (Keynsham Town), Jemma Rose (Plymouth), Corinne Yorston (Arsenal).
GROUND: Stoke Gifford Stadium, WISE Campus, Bristol, BS34 8LP
KEY PLAYER: JESS FISHLOCK
"I think our key player is going to be Jess Fishlock. She is a very good player on the ball; very skilful, a good creator, she can play on the right and in the centre, she plays a good No.10 and she is an aggressive player - she breaks a lot of play up, she gets stuck in and a lot of people aren't going to like her. As you will see she will score a lot of goals this year."
ONE TO WATCH: LILLIE BILLSON
"I think Lillie Billson, a striker that is fast with great feet, very skilful and can cause a lot of problems. At the moment she is on the bench with an injury but once she gets on the pitch I think it will be hard for someone to knock her off the pitch. She is a very talented young player."
BEST SIGNING: GEMMA ROSE
"Gemma is a key, solid defender, she is aggressive, nothing gets past her, she doesn't take any prisoners, she gets stuck in and as an attacking player, lets just say I wouldn't like to get into a tackle with her."
CAPTAIN: CORINNE YORSTON
"She has so much experience under her belt and has done so much, she is just an all-round quality player; she gets stuck in, gets the ball and plays it. She always wants to get involved and it is good to have a captain who wants to get involved and do the best she can. She is a left back and she is playing midfield, centre back - that is not her comfortable position but she doesn't moan about it, she just gets on and does it and it is really good the captain can do that."
MANAGER: MARK SAMPSON
"I have worked under some of the best managers in the English game but working under Mark gives you a different view. His specialism is defending but he is very creative with what he does, he knows what he wants, he is to the point, he gets it done and he is a good guy. He is open for ideas, he is a comfortable manager and, as an attacker, he lets me express myself and not have to punish me for that."
HOW DO YOU FEEL BRISTOL'S FA WSL PREPARATIONS HAVE BEEN GOING?
"A lot of people are saying we are the underdogs and aren't going to do much but, with the girl we have got, It is a good time for us. I think it will be a bit of a reality check for some teams, we have a great team spirit, great talent and I think we have got a winning team. We are [also] 90 minutes away from Europe and we haven't even started the season yet - that is how crazy it is!"
WHAT DOES BEING IN THE FA WSL MEAN TO BRISTOL ACADEMY WOMEN?
"You have no idea! We are buzzing, we have things in place, we have a great set up and we have great people behind the scenes. The season starts on Thursday and everyone wants to be involved, everyone wants to do something, we have our first home game in less than two weeks and we are all buzzing for it. There are only eight teams, how many women's teams are in the game and we are one of the teams that have been picked so we are over the moon."
Who will win the FA WSL? "That's a bit harsh! I want to say Bristol... but I'm going to be honest, I will probably say Arsenal."
Who will win the FA Cup? Bristol
Can you predict the WSL's round one scores?
Birmingham 0-2 Bristol Academy
Chelsea 0-3 Arsenal
Lincoln 3-1 Doncaster
Liverpool 0-2 Everton
WSR's Verdict: 7th. Another team that have strengthened wisely but, behind Arsenal and Everton, it is tough to tell. Bristol finished bottom of the Premier League National last season and may find themselves there again this year.
Ann-Marie was speaking to David Brenchley. WSR will be at the opening FA WSL game of the season tomorrow, follow me on Twitter for updates from the game.
– but the sailors praise the new boats
Photo Credit: Dario Belingheri/Bettini Photo
photo David Cannon/Getty images