Derby County Football Club Women

A Look Ahead…..with Hannah Keryakoplis

Preview written by Derby University Football Journalism Student Will Furness

Derby County Ladies begin their FA Women’s National League 2020/2021 campaign on Saturday where they are hosting Loughborough Foxes, with 225 spectators allowed into the event.

The Ewe Rams will be hoping to pick up where they left off in March – as some great form saw them launch a promotion bid, but the coronavirus outbreak resulted in the season becoming null and void.

Hannah Keryakoplis, top scorer last season, explains how excited the team are to play their first competitive fixture since March:

“I know the girls are up and ready and we just can’t wait to get started. We wanted to start mid-August like we usually do but we’ve had that extra time and we’re now ready as ever. I know the girls are up for it and personally I am aswell.”

Derby’s excellent run of results towards the end of the null and void campaign will have pleased manager Samantha Griffiths – but there will be concerns that they can’t let a slow start derail their promotion bid. Keryakoplis said:

“We need to improve on last year. This time last year we didn’t start great, now that’s definitely a place we can improve. If we start the season like we did after Christmas then we will definitely be up there where we deserve to be.”

The squad has taken a reshuffle, as have many clubs, with several big incomings and outgoings. The Ewe Rams have brought in some quality – the likes of Katie Anderson and Jade Formanston coming in. Keryapolis gave her view on the new additions:

“Katie has shown it in pre-season. She’s shown it in training what she’s about. She’s worked really hard off the pitch to get where she is now.  Jade has come from a higher league – so she brings bags of experience to the midfield.

“Charlotte Clarke was at Stoke last year – she’s proven in the sticks.  They’ve all proven that they deserve to be in the squad, so they are some great additions.”

Whilst all new signings represent quality, there have been some huge outgoings – mainly in the form of record goal scorer Cara Newton who  announced her retirement. Ellie Gilliatt has also moved on to Lincoln City.

Keryakoplis added: “This happens in football. Some people have things going on outside of football. Ellie Gilliatt was a massive part of what we were last year. We lost a massive part yes – but we’ve still made excellent additions.”

Keryakoplis scored 19 goals last season and was a standout performer for the Ewe Rams’ last campaign. She has intentions to better that – but does not set a target for herself to get before every season.

“I never really add pressure to myself. If I go in with an aim – it strips myself out of the game. It’s about a team effort. I wouldn’t score my goals if I didn’t have my team around me. As a striker you usually want to get into your 20’s.

Unfortunately, I got unlucky because I was on 19 goals last year and then the games got cancelled. Always between 20 and 30 – that is what Sam signed me for.”

With the team almost hitting the heights of promotion to the Championship last season, there is an expectation that the side will make it happen this time out and anything else is failure. Keryakoplis gave her view on this:

“We’re not easy on ourselves. As a club we might look at it [not getting promotion] and consider it a failure. The main aim is promotion and we proved we could be up there last season.”

Derby and Keryakoplis will hope this is the start of a long and successful campaign for the Ewe Rams.