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FA Cup Final Preview: Ashleigh Neville and Becky Spencer on Tottenham’s FA Cup journey

“I committed to the cause of Tottenham and committed to the journey that we were going to go on. And it’s been hard.”

Few are more familiar with Tottenham’s recent ascension than Becky Spencer. One of the longest serving players in the squad,  Spencer has been between the sticks for Tottenham since 2019.

She said: “We started off at Barnet’s stadium: ‘The Hive’ , and we were training in a public field. Anyone could just come up and watch.”

Her arrival coincided with Tottenham’s first foray into the topflight of women’s football, and neither Becky nor Spurs have looked back since.

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Spencer arrives ahead of a key league match against Manchester City

Sunday is undoubtedly the biggest game in Tottenham Hotspur Women’s history. Like their Manchester United opponents, the Lilywhites have never won the competition. Whatever the result, a new winner will be crowned at Wembley.

Despite the significance of the game, there is an air of serenity at Hotspur Way.

“I don’t think we really think about it. All season, we haven’t really had much pressure on us.

“It hasn’t come from the staff. It hasn’t come from the fans, or ourselves,” Spencer told the Sports Gazette.

In his first season with the club, manager Robert Vilahamn has placed greater emphasis on performances rather than results in the league.

Despite early thrashings at the hands of Manchester City and Manchester United, good performances and results have likely earned his side a respectable sixth place finish in the WSL.

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The team huddle before their FA Cup tie against Sheffield United

Spencer said: “With there being a manager and new players coming in, I think it’s been a bit of an experimental season for us.

“To get to a final and to be where we are, I think we’re really, really happy with that.”

This will not be Spencer’s first trip to Wembley. The Jamaican shot stopper has won the FA Cup four times with three different clubs.

Ashleigh Neville has been at Tottenham Hotspur even longer than Spencer, joining the club in 2017.

Her memories of Wembley aren’t quite as fond.

“I went to Wembley when I was about 15 and I watched West Brom lose to Derby in a playoff final.”

Neville has been a defensive stalwart for Spurs since she signed from Coventry, racking up over one hundred appearances for the club in seven years.

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Neville after the 1-0 victory against Arsenal in December

She said: “I remember when I got the call to come and sign for Spurs.

“I thought that if I don’t give this a go, I’ll regret it and thankfully, it was the best decision that I ever made.”

Neville was playing part time and teaching at a school in Birmingham before she moved to Tottenham.

She said: “When I first started playing, one of the dads or one of the mums would be the linesman and we would have referees that were just giving up their spare time to do it.

“Women’s football has come a long way, but there is still quite a way to go.”

At the start of the season, assistant coach Vicky Jepson pinned a picture of a bus and its route on the dressing room wall. Each stop represented a round in the FA Cup, with the bus progressing to the next stop with every win.

Neville said: “I think Vicky must be driving the bus! I think it’s nice to see the kind of journey that we’ve been on.

“Now that we have made it to that final stop, I think everyone’s really looking forward to it.”

Whether Sunday is the end of the line for the Tottenham FA Cup bus, Neville hopes that this journey will be the beginning of something new.

18,000 fans watched the dramatic semi-final win against Leicester, and Neville hopes the increased attention can help bolster future attendances.

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Martha Thomas celebrates her late winner against Leicester in the semi-final

Neville said: “I know that a lot of fans came down to watch the semi-final.

“They have seen how good we are, so if you haven’t come down and watched us then I suggest you do, because now we’re in an FA Cup Final.”


  • Ed Dowling

    Ed is an Editor at the Sports Gazette. A much-maligned Tottenham fan, he mainly talks and writes about football in England and abroad. He is also a Senior Reporter for Nigeria's biggest sports radio station, Brila FM.