Farewell Caz! Departure is end of era for women's football in Chichester

It’s the end of an era for women’s and girls’ football in Chichester as Caz Evans stands down.

Thursday, 1st July 2021, 7:30 am
One of Caz Henry's success stories at the club
One of Caz Henry's success stories at the club

The Chichester and Selsey Ladies (formerly Chichester City Ladies) director and secretary has left her roles after 13 years at the club.

It’s been a long journey – and a lively one too.

In her first year she was the first team’s goalkeeper, being coached by Matt Wright, and at the end of the season Wright took over as first team manager and asked her to join the coaching staff. She did – and the rest is history.

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Caz immediately became the secretary and performed that role behind the scenes while at the same time serving as player-manager of the ladies’ reserve side.

The years progressed and so did gaining volunteers at the club including her assistant Rhys Griffiths and Malcolm Ellis, two people who worked with Caz closely for many years with the reserves.

Chichester City Ladies became their own company and Caz was appointed director.

The senior teams were progressing well within the women’s football pyramid and the club’s youth section was launched in 2012.

Caz with the under-16 girls

Several youth girls’ teams were created and Caz also became the youth secretary.

After Matt Wright left the club, she became the chair in his place.

Caz has had roles at the club including kit person and pitch line-painter – and has even dressed as the club mascot, a big blue falcon, and Santa for different football events to help raise money for the club.

Running football tournaments to bring in money for the club has also been part of her role and she has turned her hand to anything to ensure the club has had what it needed and the teams could continue to play the game they love.

Caz at Selsey FC

After Caz stepped down as manager of the reserves she ended up becoming the coach of the under-tens and has continued to work with the team, who are now the under-16s.

A couple of years ago brought the toughest time for the club when financially they were struggling and a move to Selsey FC was needed.

Selsey have embraced the ladies’ team and they say they are now in a better place as Chichester and Selsey Ladies.

Caz has been involved in many special moments that the club has experienced over the years and she has listed her top 10 moments:

Caz with one of her protogees

* The reserves winning the league and being promoted to South East Counties premier division.

* The first team winning the league and being promoted to the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier Division.

* The Sussex Cup – there have been many magic moments in the county cup but two are beating Brighton in the semi-final at Oaklands on penalties, when Hannah McNamara saved the last penalty, and beating Brighton 3-0 in the fog in the final another year with a worldie of a goal from Abbey Shrubb.

* Watching players like Loulou Robson and Alice Walford play for the first team after being in the club’s first ever youth side as under-12s and then growing into the senior set0up

* The U13s winning the league.

* The U15s winning the Hampshire Cup.

League winners

* The U16s winning the Hampshire plate.

* The Womens’ FA Cup – the club have often done well in the FA Cup but the home tie with Liverpool involved preparing and working with volunteers to be able to have such a massive game at Oaklands Park with more than 1300 fans present is a stand out. A Cup visit to West Ham last season was another highlight.

* Watching the U16s become old enough to train and play with the senior set-up was a proud moment especially when some have been working with Caz since they were eight years old.

* Moving the club to Selsey to ensure its existence and put it somewhere that, in the club’s words, wanted them and wanted to help them progress further.

Caz told us: “There are so many memories I hold for this club and too many to write down or even remember at times.

“I have given everything to this club as a volunteer for a long time and enjoyed working with so many amazing players, staff, volunteers and opponents. I have made some great friends – too many to mention them all.

“I would like to thank Matt Wright for being my football partner for many years and a special thank-you to Rhys Griffiths and Malcolm Ellis, without whom we wouldn’t have been able to have a reserve side so many years ago.

“I could spend all day thanking people who I have worked with but you all know who you are and I do truly appreciate you all for your help over the years.

“One thing I would like people to know is that the current manager Sadie Blakely has been a breath of fresh air at the club. To be able to build a team like she has since being appointed is nothing short of a miracle and for that team to improve in times hit by Covid-19 is a credit to her, her staff team and the players.

“I know she will go on to great things at the helm – an appointment in manager that I have never regretted.

“Handing over the directorship of the club and stepping away completely has been hard for me but it is time for me to walk away and let others take things forward.

“It will be nice to have my evenings and weekends back after so long and I am likely to be completely lost for a while but I am sure I will be attending games to watch the team from a distance and will keep an eye on their progress.

“One final word goes to new chair Sam Ashton, who has been instrumental in keeping this club going over the past couple of years including the successful move to Selsey. I know the club is in good hands and will only go from strength to strength with her and the other volunteers involved.

“Thank you to everyone I have met along the way, you are all amazing and continue to do the great work in getting women’s football to become as big as it can.”