The University of Derby are delighted to announce the appointment of Graham Abercrombie as the Women’s Football Club’s new first team coach.
The UEFA A Licence coach has over 25 years of experience and is no stranger to management in the women’s game, having been at the helm of Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion, Nottingham Forest and now currently Sheffield F.C.
Abercrombie’s most successful season was his second at West Brom in the 2015/16 campaign as they won the FA WPL Northern Division and reached the last eight of the FA Women's Cup where they only suffered a 2-0 defeat to Manchester City. He also got to the Championship Play Off Final, but marginally lost out to Brighton & Hove Albion.
“I am extremely excited. This has really got me stoked. I’ve spoken to a few players and the committee via zoom meetings and it has really fuelled me. I am now really looking forward to working with them all.
“We both share ambition which was really nice. Ultimately, I want to win trophies; I want to win promotions.”
Derby County Women and the University of Derby’s unique partnership, whereby players can study on the UK’s only Football Journalism undergraduate degree course whilst also featuring for the University team and the Ewe Rams, means that Abercrombie’s appointment has potential long-term success for the relationship to get even bigger.
Duncan Gibb, CEO of Derby County Women, gave his thoughts on the appointment and how it affects the coalition moving forward.
“Graham, straight away, was the perfect pick. He has the time for it, the appetite for it as this is a long-term thing. My vision and Graham’s vision are aligned. The beautiful thing is that Graham won’t just talk the talk – he will walk the walk.
“In my mind, when we reach the endgame of this is where Derby Women’s U20s and our U18s has heavy representation of players undertaking their studies at Derby while also playing football for the university under Graham.”
The Ewe Rams have had a fantastic start to the season and are aiming for promotion to the FA Women’s Championship when their games get back underway on the 13th of December. However, the university team have struggled to even step foot on a pitch this campaign due to the COVID-19 guidelines set by the Government.
Hannah Roberts, the current President of the University of Derby WFC, explained her excitement that a coach of Abercrombie’s calibre is coming into the helm.
“I heard a lot of good things about him, and all the high-level club teams he’s managed. I’m really excited to get started as he seems to understand the difference between club football and university football.
“I’ve already been on a call with him and he seems really ambitious. We spoke for two hours about everything we want to do with the team this coming semester. He’s got good ideas and he’s really committed for the rest of the year and going forward. He’s going to change the club for the better.”
Craig Keegan, Deputy Director of Sport at the University, spoke of his role in the appointment and how it will benefit the club.
“We have had an established relationship with Derby County Women for a number of years now and Graham’s appointment is an extension of that really. I anticipate Graham will bring a new level of professionalism that the girls will aspire to deliver. A coach of Graham’s experience will no doubt work with the players to establish new standards, and develop a culture of excellence within the team.”
Abercrombie will begin his new role at the University with the first training sessions starting a week before the spring semester next month, and matches are expected to begin shortly after that.
By Will Furness, Football Journalism student at University of Derby and DCFCW reporter.