Ellie Gilliatt Makes Her 200th Appearance For Sheffield FC
Sunday’s match against Watford marks the 200th appearance of one of Sheffield FC Ladies’ most popular players, Ellie Gilliatt.
The left-back joined Sheffield FC in September 2011, the ladies’ first season in the FA Women’s Premier League, moving from FA WPL National Division side, Nottingham Forest, following her decision to leave the club there having helped them to a League Cup final and National Division runners up spot in 2010/11.
Gilliatt made her first Sheffield FC appearance in an away league match at Sporting Club Albion (now West Bromwich Albion) where she went straight into the starting line-up at left back. She helped Club to a 4-0 win, making one and scoring another of the goals in what is arguably the most memorable debut performance of any player in the history of the ladies team.
The defender made another 22 appearances that season, helping the side to the runners up spot in their debut season at Northern Division level. She also was a key player in the Sheffield & Hallamshire County Cup final, Sheffield’s first ever final, and came off the bench to score and change the game in the Club’s 4-0 triumph over Sheffield Wednesday.
Sheffield strengthened their squad over the summer of 2012, but in a pre-season game against Aston Villa, Gilliatt was cynically upended in the final minutes, resulting in the player breaking her collar bone. The injury was a devastating blow to Sheffield as they looked to build on their previous season, but thankfully Gilliatt returned to the first team at the beginning of November as Sheffield beat Newcastle United 6-1 in the League Cup, Gilliatt significantly opening the scoring after just 11 minutes. She missed just one further match that season, playing a key role in the team lifting two trophies – a first FA WPL Northern Division title, and the Sheffield & Hallamshire County Cup for a second successive season.
A new job in London took Ellie away from Sheffield following the final day of the 2012/13 season, but her absence was happily short-lived, as she returned at the beginning of October to retake her spot in the team for what proved to be Sheffield’s best season yet. She missed just one game for the rest of the year, and was to be one of the key players in Sheffield claiming a second FA WPL Northern Division title and, more satisfyingly, a first FA Women’s Premier League Cup, beating Cardiff City 6-2 in the final. For Gilliatt, the win was all the more enjoyable having lost in the final on penalties to Barnet two years earlier with Nottingham Forest.
Season 2014/15 was the Club’s most exciting and successful to date, winning a third FA WPL league title and the all-important Championship Play Off Final as Sheffield FC Ladies became the first club to be promoted on merit to the FA Women’s Super League. A fourth County Cup title was added, and the team reached the FA WPL Final for a second consecutive year only to miss out on penalties to Charlton Athletic. Gilliatt played 41 matches that season and scored 20 goals, her most in a single season.
Gilliatt has continued to be a key player in the team since Sheffield joined the FA WSL for the 2016 season, and has made nearly 50 competitive appearances now at this level. She was given the captain’s armband at the start of this season, and is now the longest serving player at the Club. She becomes only the third player ever to pass the significant milestone of 200 first team appearances, joining Lisa Giampalma (262) and Carla Ward (221).
In spite of playing at the back, Gilliatt has been one of Sheffield’s most exciting attacking players and incredibly has contributed 69 goals from left back. She is currently the sixth highest scorer of all-time at the Club, averaging a goal every three matches. As well as three FA WPL league titles, four County Cups, an FA WPL League Cup title, and a Championship Play Off Final winner’s medal to her name at Sheffield FC, Ellie has also been a popular winner at the ladies’ end of season awards, picking up the Supporters’ Player of the Season twice and Manager’s Player of the Season award in 2013/14.
Sheffield FC Ladies’ manager Zoe Johnson: “Congratulations to Ellie on 200 fantastic games for this Club. She is a great leader and role model for all the players, both on and off the pitch. On a personal level, over my two years as manager, Ellie’s experience has helped me a lot as a young manager – she’s been extremely supportive and I couldn’t thanks her enough for that. To see a player of Ellie’s capabilities stay loyal to this Club and play a big part its successes has been great, and I hope to see her get many more appearances in a red and black shirt.”
General Manager, Helen Mitchell, gave her thoughts: “Put simply, Ellie is one of the very best players we’ve ever had here. Not only has she performed at a consistently high level in that time, she’s also extremely hard working, enthusiastic, committed, and has been extremely loyal.”
“She’s an exciting player to watch, full of ability, passion and drive, and is a big character in the dressing room. It’s very hard to put a value on Ellie’s contribution here: she’s been such a major part of our success over the years. 200 appearances is an outstanding achievement, and it’s a fitting landmark for such a superb player, and I’m very proud to see her still committed to this Club after such a long time.”