Samantha Miller recalls her journey from playing alongside the likes of Jordan Nobbs while studying at university, to rejoining West Ham and the exciting season ahead.
University football – The game changer
University football was where I felt my game excelled. I played football for the University of Hertfordshire while completing a Sports and Exercise Science degree, and while doing so, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by Women’s Super League players. Consisting of internationals Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal/ England), Danielle Carter (Arsenal/ England), Caroline Weir (Liverpool/ Scotland) and Laura Coombs (Liverpool/ England) among others, it was an honour to be able to call this talented group of players my teammates.
This helped raise my standard and enhance my all-round game. In addition to this, having the respected and experienced Faye White coaching and managing, and having Kelly Smith and Steph Houghton fill in for a few games was incredibly valuable. Playing, training with, and receiving feedback from these high-profile players drove me to step up a level.
I then got the opportunity to play for London Bees in the WSL 2, training four to five times a week at the spectacular facilities at the Hive, which was a privilege.
First team debut
I had been training with the first team, and my call up was away to Doncaster Belles in the FA Cup, which was a great experience; the atmosphere at the Keepmoat was incredible. I didn’t get to play that day, but the experience made me even hungrier for my debut. Eventually, my patience and hard work paid off, and I got my first team debut away to Aston Villa. I felt mixed emotions after the game, as I was proud to have played, but losing 2-1 after being 1-0 up was a difficult result to digest. I then played against Durham in the FA Cup, but unfortunately broke my wrist during the game, which meant I missed pre-season with the new manager.
I made the decision to return to West Ham (my previous club before Bees) with an aim to get regular first-team football. After being at Bees for a year, I felt I could add some valuable experience to the West Ham side, and help get the team promoted to WSL 2 after getting a taste of the league.
Having returned from a pre-season tour in Holland playing the likes of FC Twente and MSV Duisberg, I have witnessed the desire and ambition of the club. With the season about to commence, hard work has been put in; with a new successful manager in James Marr in charge, and a team aiming for the top, it’s looking like an exciting season ahead. Watch this space!
Follow Samantha at @samantham7pd