The last home game against Concord Rangers saw Rachel Ahern feature in our matchday programme. For those who missed that feature, here is the full article:

Dartford FC Women’s Rachel Ahern is a joy to talk to. Whilst our conversation is brief, the defender has a wonderful ability to make you feel at ease as well as make you laugh.

To be honest, trying to track her down for this article proved a little difficult because, “I’ve recently bought a house and a puppy, so it’s been all go-go recently… and I fairly recently started a new job, which has taken a lot of my time.”

That new job sees Rachel working for the Rail Safety Standards Board as an Industry Groups Manager, so she’s certainly a busy person these days, “I also try to go to the gym a couple of times a week and play badminton once a week too.”

So what’s a typical day like for Dartford FC Women’s number five? “An average day in the life of me consists of me waking up, resetting my alarm every five minutes for about 20 minutes! HaHaHa! Eventually I’ll get up, get ready for work and, if I’m in the office, I’ll head to the station in time for the early train. I normally miss that and have to wait for the next one! HaHa! Then it’s work, come home, walk the dogs if my partner hasn’t been able to. If I don’t need to do that, I’ll do odd bits around the house and pretend I’m Mrs Hinch. Then it’s dinner, play with the dogs, which now sees me spending time standing in the garden trying to get our puppy to have a wee!” Catching her breath, she then continues, “…then I sit down to watch TV, only to realise it’s gone 11pm and I should really go to bed…! So, I shower and get ready for bed… then it’s repeated the following day.”

It’s a wonder that Rachel has any spare time for football, but she obviously does and enjoys the sport too. So, where did it all begin for her?

Rachel used to play football with the other kids down the road. Upon learning that their daughter loved it, Rachel’s parents then took her to a local team… “It was a long time ago. I think I was in the under-10s. When I was growing up, the women’s game was still progressing, so I would have had to go to America in order to get a career in the sport. I’m now too old for those sorts of thoughts… HaHaHaHa… but, it’s so good for girls to finally have the career path into football now.”

Despite the setback in the early days of the women’s game, it certainly didn’t stop Rachel from playing, “I played at Charlton’s Centre of Excellence and Academy before moving to Crayford Arrows, Crockenhill, and Gillingham. I then joined Aylesford before joining the Darts.”

Now plying her footballing trade with Connor Dymond’s successful side, Rachel aims to try and keep as fit as possible while playing as much as she can, whilst continuing to enjoy her time at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park.

And she claims that her parents and Kelly Smith have inspired her throughout her life… “Kelly Smith was my inspiration on the field and, as clichéd as it sounds, my parents are my inspiration off the field. They have both worked extremely hard throughout their lives and, if I can turn out half as good as them, I’ll be doing well.”

Inspiring words indeed from the defender, and I’m sure that her parents are extremely proud of what their daughter has achieved both on and off the pitch. For this interesting person, who has a tattoo of a cherry bakewell on her side (ask her about it) and makes sure that her drink for the game is always in the corner at the front of the dugout leaning against the edge, has made some fond memories during her time in the sport…

“Having worked my way towards the back of the pitch, scoring goals is a distant memory. However, I scored in a Final for my school at Exeter FC’s ground in the same goal that Wayne Rooney scored in the previous week. But, my favourite memory has got to be being picked to play in a tournament in Spain for Charlton Reserves when I was sixteen.”

There are many more stories that Rachel could share but, as her dogs require attention, it’s time for us to draw our conversation to a conclusion. So, I’ll let her have the final words…

“Thank you for your support and, if you’re ever at a loose end on a Sunday, come down and cheer us on please”

By Chris Palmer