• Andy Moore

Ewe Rams CEO Gibb on Recent Retirements

Derby County Women’s CEO Duncan Gibb has paid tribute to both Ellie Gilliatt and Sherry McCue who announced their retirements last week at the culmination of the 2021/22 FAWNL season.

The two Ewe Rams favourites will be a huge miss to Boss Sam Griffiths and Gibb recalls his excitement at the signing of Gilliatt and adds why her professional approach will be a legacy at the club.

Gibb said “There isn’t a club Chairman or CEO in the game from Real Madrid to parks level that doesn’t get excited at the prospect of certain signings. Our development as a club and league positions in recent years, point to our recruitment being strong, however, the signing of Ellie holds a special memory and place within my nine years at the club.

"I like to think that my background in the game affords me some degree of being able to ‘pick a player’, and Ellie was quite simply the best player that I had ever seen at National League level when she was at Sheffield as part of their all-conquering squad of the early to middle part of the last decade. Strong, quick, direct, and with an excellent eye for goal, she was a player than any fan attending a game for the first time would quickly home in on as the star turn.

"I knew that Sam had a good relationship with her from their playing days and can vividly remember saying to her “If you can get Ellie Gilliatt to sign for us, I will personally give her a piggyback from Sheffield!”. Understandably, she was a player in high demand, and I can recall Sam asking me to speak to her when she guested for us in a behind closed doors exhibition match at Pride Park Stadium.

"I can recall thinking, this kids head is going to be all over the place with offers, so let’s keep things nice and simple and take the pedal off the gas. As such, I simply congratulated her on a good game, told her that we’d be delighted to have her at our club, that I believed that we’d be a good fit for her, but that I appreciated that she’d need to explore other options.

"We eventually got her over the line, and she subsequently told me that approach had resonated with. Since then, she has gone on to deliver all the things that we hoped for. Goals, assists, crowd excitement, standards and expectations and supporter engagement. Derby County proved to be the right club for Ellie, and I think she thrived on the spotlight that it afforded her. I’m delighted that I got to see her pull on our famous shirt, and she and her equally lovely partner Sophie will always be afforded a warm welcome at our club.”

Last week, McCue capped off her career by being named the Derby County Women Player of the Season at the Official Derby County Awards Night and Gibb again credits the midfielder for upping the standards at the club as well as her presence as a favourite off the pitch.

“It takes quite a bit to get Jenny ‘Bart’ Simpson excited, however I can recall her raw enthusiasm as she told me we’d signed Shezza. “You’ll absolutely love her Duncan, she’s your type of player and your type of person.

"Looking back fondly on that conversation, Bart couldn’t have been any closer to the mark if she tried. On a personal level, I’m a huge advocate of the technical side of the game, at the same time as being big on characters and standards. In that regard Shezza ticks every box.

"An excellent reader of the game, with strong positional sense, who is able to break up play and start play with equal ease and ability. I’d love to see her ball retention and recycling stats and am often seen nodding approvingly at her demanding of standards from both herself and those around her. Teams that tend to win things have several characters, with ability and a presence, and Shezza absolutely fits that bill.

"Off the pitch, I can’t get enough of that Stokie accent and wicked sense of humour, all mixed in with large dollops of seriousness and passion for the club and the game. That said, the less said about that bloody red and white bobble hat she first rocked up in the better! In the big scheme of things she’s not been at the club overly long, however her memory as a player will last for many years to come. I hope she’s not a stranger to us going forwards, as I will genuinely miss her.”

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