Last weekend saw Dartford host Hemel Hempstead at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park. Dartford FC Women winger Emily Read featured in our matchday programme that day. For those who missed that feature, here is the full article:

Dartford FC Women winger, Emily Read, isn’t one to sit still. She’s a self-confessed busy-body with an obsession for dogs and the beautiful game. And, like everyone, she has a story to tell despite, “…pretty much playing for the same club for my entire footballing career!”

Emily’s love of football all began in her youth…”I was always the annoying little sister who would beg my Dad to take me training with my brother! There weren’t too many local girls clubs at the time, so I’d join in at every chance. My brother hated it, which made me enjoy it even more! HaHaHaHa!”

Like many, once she started playing, there was no going back for Emily and, with the support of her family, her path was established. “My parents were hugely supportive. They never told me it was pointless or not very ‘girly’, they just let me get on it with it. I’ve always had a lot of energy and I love running, so I think they were just happy I was getting it all out!”

Having decided that football was the way forward, a young Emily signed for Charlton, where she remained for a short spell before signing for the previous incarnation of what would evolve into Dartford FC Women. “I’ve pretty much played for the same club for my entire footballing career! It’s evolved and changed when it comes to name, location, and management, but it’s essentially the same bunch of people…And, they are the reason as to why I’ve never left.”

And, she’s made some wonderful memories with the club, her favourite of which actually happened recently… “It was that first round proper of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup!” Ironically, that game also included her least favourite moment as well, “…If you came to the game, you’ll know exactly what I mean! (I was there and, I know what she’s referring to)… I really don’t like taking penalties, but someone was watching over me that day, and it went in. I’ve never felt joy and relief like it!” We all felt the same for every player that afternoon, and what a game and result it was too!

Having played the game since the age of eight, Emily can’t really remember a Sunday where she hasn’t played football, “…it’s all I’ve ever really done on a Sunday! I do it because I enjoy it and, the moment that stops, I’ll stop.”

However, growing up when she did meant that Emily didn’t really consider that football could be a job that she could make a living from. But, she is amazed at the changes that are taking place within the sport and her admiration for those who sparked such changes is clearly evident…

“The change that’s happened in the last few years has been mind-blowing. I have such huge respect and admiration for the likes of Gill Scott, Ellen White, and Alex Scott. They’re of a similar age to me and managed to forge a career against the odds. It’s so exciting for young girls starting out now.”

Clearly inspired by those aforementioned players, Emily also confesses that, having grew up in the 90’s, she had posters of the likes of David Beckham and Michael Owen on her bedroom wall. She also had a season ticket at Charlton Athletic, where she’d attend games with her family. She loved it so much that she actually ended up working for the Addicks for a few years!

However, her biggest influences are her Dad, brother, and husband… “My Dad is a big driver behind me playing. He’d take me to games, shout at me from the side-lines…He didn’t really care that I was a girl, and a small one at that, he just wanted me to get stuck in. Both him, my brother, and my husband have spent many Sundays having a beer while giving me stick from the side-lines! And, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Emily has been happily married for eight years (this year) and lives with her husband and dog in Essex. The couple work from home most of the time (more on that shortly), so are lucky enough to have the time to take their dog for long walks in the nearby forest. Outside of that, Emily also makes sure she has time to workout at the gym before enjoying a night with her husband and the “…amazing food that he cooks…I’m very lucky!”

Outside of the beautiful game, Emily is the Head of Digital for a company called Contagious. Her role sees her working from home a lot and spending a majority of her day on a laptop and on video calls. It’s during these times when she’s truly thankful for Dartford FC Women. “…Football has actually been my saving grace, especially throughout the COVID-19 lockdown, as chatting to people virtually all day can send you slightly mad!”

As I mentioned earlier, Emily has a rather healthy obsession with dogs. In her spare time, she volunteers for a charity called Five Circles Dog Rescue. She looks after their social media channels and newsletters. And, if that wasn’t enough, she also has her own baking business on the side… “It’s called Thank Fudge… I make cakes for birthdays and weddings, or practically anything people want really.”

As we return to the matter of Dartford FC Women and the remainder of the season, Emily is positive yet also wise… “I just want to keep getting the minutes in and enjoy playing. I’m the oldest in the team, so I need to make the extra effort to keep fit. I’d love to be playing for a few more seasons because, Dartford’s such a good club and I wholeheartedly believe that the women’s team is destined for big things.”

Inspiring words indeed from one of the more experienced players in the squad. And, as our conversation reaches its conclusion, I’ll let Emily have the final words before she returns to baking two princess cakes for twins and their birthday celebrations…

“I just want to say a big thank you really. I still can’t believe that people give up their Sundays for us. It’s amazing, and we feel a big responsibility to not let them down. Our fans really do show up when it matters, and we can definitely hear them!”

By Chris Palmer