PREVIEW: Ellerslie’s Ponies ready to make club history with National League debut

By Harrison Ryburn

Hannah Barclay has been a part of Ellerslie Football Club since 2010, when she was just five years old, but is set to face her toughest and most exciting challenge as a member of the first Ellerslie side to qualify for a National League spot.

The Ellerslie women’s side, known as the Ponies, make their National League debut on Saturday when they welcome the Wellington Phoenix women’s reserves to Michaels Ave, providing Barclay and her teammates the chance to compete against the best women’s talent in New Zealand.

Now 18, it is “beyond exciting” for Barclay and the squad.

“Coming into the season, I had no expectations for how the team would perform, but I am truly so proud of our performances,” she said.

“We worked super hard for this opportunity and hope to make even more club history.”

Ellerslie’s Ponies … worked hard for their success. Photo: Andrew Skinner / Phototek.

It came down to the final ten minutes of Ellerslie’s last regular season match to secure qualification, requiring a dramatic late winner from Britney Cunningham-Lee to edge Hibiscus Coast 2-1 and progress to the National League as the 4th-placed side from the Lotto NRFL Women’s Premier League.

“There were tears of joy after the final whistle,” Barclay says, with the late goal met by wild celebrations from players, coaches and fans.

It marks a major milestone in Barclay’s journey with the club, having played at Ellerslie for 13 years.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at Ellerslie, and the coaches I’ve had have all been amazing and really helped me to grow as a player,” she said.

“The community here is so welcoming, and the club puts a lot of time and effort into women’s football, which has played a major role in my enjoyment and development.”

Barclay made her first-team debut only this season, and is one of the younger members of the squad, but has been welcomed to the side with open arms.

“Even if you make a mistake in a game or feel like you didn’t play your best, everyone is there to support and pick you up when you’re feeling down.”

Ellerslie … ‘everyone is there to support.’ Photo: Andrew Skinner / Phototek.

On her personal goals for the National League, she said: “Honestly, I just want to try my best and have fun doing it.”

“I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity with the team to play at such a high level, and really wish to make the most of it.”

“No matter the outcome, I will be glad to have achieved it with the Ponies by my side.”

Main photo: Hannah Barclay (centre) playing against West Coast Rangers in the Lotto NRFL Women’s Premier League. Photo supplied.

Ellerslie squad

Petra Wedlake, Alex Loo, Nadia Olla, Kelsea King

Courtney Beale, Tayla Hawes, Kim Oosterbeek, Anita Trudgen, Abby Wright, Paige Ihaka, Mia Collins, Dalila Mosca

Leigh Aitken, Hollie Leona, Cat Pretty, Ella James, Marilia Rocha Xerez Braga, Lyric Davison

Vibha Godha, Cilla Fa’afua, Kat Gow, Britney Cunningham-Lee, Hannah Barclay, Julia Robinson, Sarah Jessup

Phoenix reserves squad

Aimee Danieli, Charlotte Eagle

Ella McMillan, Lara Smith, Rebekah Trewhitt, Emily Humphrey, Mackenzie Greene, Nova Hill, Libby McMillan, Lila Feasey

Alyssha Eglinton, Grace Bartlett, Ellie Johnson, Kyra Elder, Nina Kondo, Sienna Candy

Georgie Furnell, Ella McCann, Angela Pivac, Phoebe Hawes, Gigi Freeman

PREVIEW: Young Phoenix women ready to step up to National League challenge >>>>

How to watch

The game will be one of the first Women’s National League games to be live-streamed under the new content partnership between NZ Football and FIFA+.

READ MORE: ‘Gamechanging’ deal to provide more live-streaming of football than ever before >>>>


Games to be played on Saturday September 23, 2023

Women’s National League

Ellerslie v Wellington Phoenix
Michaels Ave, Ellerslie, 2.45pm

READ MORE: Your guide to the weekend’s big fixtures … all on one page >>>>

Harrison Ryburn

Harrison Ryburn is a Canterbury-based football writer and former Aucklander.

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