Katy Sandalls: Tractor Girls’ dream FA Cup clash with City is a chance to show how far they’ve come, win or lose
- Credit: Archant
In her latest column, Katy Sandalls looks ahead to this weekend’s dream clash between Ipswich Town Women and mighty Manchester City in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
The past two weeks have been some of the longest of my life, I'm fairly sure.
It's hard to believe it's only been that many days since Town drew Manchester City in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
A dream selection that none of us could have predicted.
While the draw was happening I was sat on the phone to my mum, talking her through the options that Town could face.
My mum's interest in the game has increased over the years with some subtle persuasion from myself - although if I manage to get her into K-Pop then that will perhaps be a bigger triumph.
I sat and talked her through each team; "Well Coventry might be winnable but it's not a big game", "Let's not get Sunderland please", etc.
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It wasn't far into the draw where the excitement of it all meant that I had to put the phone down.
Much like the child on the old Disneyland advert "I couldn't sleep I was too excited".
I had visions of going for fish and chips with Vivianne Miedema on the front at Felixstowe or nabbing some candy floss with Fran Kirby. I blame Sue Smith and Rachel Brown-Finnis for ruining those dreams.
And then the draw happened. Manchester City away. I was lost for words.
Ross Halls and I had spent weeks talking about pulling a big club in a cup draw, but we didn't really think it would happen.
And yet here it was, arguably the biggest game Town could have managed, bar a home draw of course.
A fair few expletives later and it's hard to believe it's still happening.
This weekend hundreds of fans will make the trip up north to see if Town can pull off a bit of cup magic.
I sincerely believe it will be hundreds too. Support for Ipswich Town Women has been incredible this year; with the team's fantastic season helping to pique interest as well as the founding of the Tractor Girls on Tour supporters club.
I do wonder how much of that added interest may have come from last summer's Women's World Cup, which saw the women's game become a global phenomenon.
The irony of course being that it's players from that semi-final side who could be lining up in front of Suffolk's own this weekend in Manchester.
The likes of Ellen White and Steph Houghton lining up against our own Maddie Biggs and Paige Peake will be quite a sight to behold for those who do make the trip up to Manchester.
For one player, of course, there is perhaps more of a personal score to settle.
Blue Wilson is a former Man City U21 player, ready to show her old club what she is made of as a key part of Town's midfield line-up.
Listening to Blue during our preview podcast recording - check it out, Glancing Header! - it was clear to hear her passion and belief in the squad.
She's ready to take the fight to Manchester, as are the whole team.
I would put a lot of that down to their boss, Joe Sheehan. Another recent podcast guest, and someone who has helped the team go from strength to strength in the year that he has been in charge of the side.
With Sheehan behind them these players have an enviable passion for their craft and the willpower to go into the biggest game of their lives with a smile on their faces.
How many of us could say the same about our everyday lives?
As Wilson said in the podcast, with his backing the team really feel like they can go out there and win this, seemingly impossible game.
Will Town score this weekend? I would put good money on it. Will they come out with a win? I'm not so sure, but even if they don't they've built something that I think in many ways is more valuable.
This weekend will be a true David vs Goliath occasion for Ipswich Town Women but one in which they can carve a piece of history for themselves.
Either they'll pull off the biggest shock result in the history of the FA Cup, stunning one of the best sides in the world, or they'll go out there and show just far they have come, both as players and as a club in an incredible season.
I hope you will be supporting the squad this weekend - and not just through this game but onwards through the rest of this season and beyond!
- Keep up to date with all the information about this weekend's game by following Glancing Header on Twitter and Instagram and listening to the podcast in all the usual places.