Gemma Davison: Returning from injury for career highlight at new stadium
Thu 28 November 2019, 17:30|Tottenham Hotspur
It’s been a learning curve for Spurs Women after three consecutive defeats in November to league high-flyers Arsenal, Chelsea and Everton, but in the midst of a tough run in saw the surprise return of experienced forward Gemma Davison – a huge boost for the team ahead of a jam-packed schedule in December.
Gemma suffered a significant medial ankle ligament injury at the beginning of October - the standard time frame for recovery is 10-12 weeks. She was back in eight. What spurred her on to a speedy recovery? It was our historic fixture at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium against one of her former sides, an occasion she thought she would never experience in her career.
Before her big return to the squad against the Gunners where she was brought on for the last 10 minutes, we had been without our dangerous winger for five games. Her injury blow came before our victory against West Ham at the London Stadium and although she missed out in some good wins against the Hammers, Bristol City and Crystal Palace, she was working tirelessly to get back for a day that she’ll be reminiscing on for years to come.
“Returning from injury for the north London derby was the main target for me,” Gemma confessed. “I just had that in the front of my mind and I desperately wanted to be back for that and be a part of something special. I’m just happy I made the game really. I knew how big the occasion was for us and the Club overall and I really wanted to be part of it and make history.
“In my career, I never thought I would play in front of over 38,000 people in a league match. If I go through the journey of this season, when we played at Stamford Bridge, I never thought in my whole career that I would walk out at a Premier League stadium and look up to the highest stands, and it be full. That was the spark for me and then the game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was by far one of the best experiences of my career.
“I think credit to every single fan who came. I know that a lot of kids’ football teams didn’t play that day so they could come to watch us, and I think not only was there a big crowd there, but credit to both teams for putting on a great game. A lot of people enjoyed the football on show and that’s what we want for the women’s game. I really do think we performed well for the Club. I’ve played at a lot of stadiums in my career, and it’s probably the best stadium I have ever been in, by a mile, and it was an honour to play there and be part of a day I’ll never forget.”
Gemma arrived at the Club in the summer from Reading, along with nine other new signings ahead of our debut season in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League (WSL). Virtually a new team, in a new league, Gemma’s experience in the WSL from her spells with Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and the Royals, was invaluable to the newly formed Tottenham Hotspur Women.
Following a positive pre-season, which included our first overseas trip to Cadiz in Spain, the 32-year-old started the season well and received plaudits from fans as she impressed against Chelsea and Liverpool.
But injury struck soon after and for Gemma, who started playing at the age of 14 with Arsenal Ladies youth team and has enjoyed a successful career so far with four WSL winners' medals, it was her “first significant injury” of her career and one that would teach her new lessons in the game she loves and knows already so well.
“I was really disappointed when I got the injury,” she explained. “Especially because I felt like I started the first few games of the season well, I was hitting form, really enjoying my football, enjoying being with the team and the environment at a new Club, so I was really gutted to be honest.
“It’s mentally been a big challenge too. I think that some people don’t realise how hard injured players work and how much they do to get back fit. This has probably been the first significant injury I’ve had in my career and I didn’t realise how much you have to do to get yourself strong again, not just your ankle, but your whole body. You learn a lot about yourself and I think I appreciate what injured players go through more now that I’ve been through it myself. It’s been a tough process, it’s tough for anyone with an injury, but if you get injured you just work hard to get back and that’s part of the game. The most important thing is that I’m back now, motivated and feel ready to go!”
Back from injury, Gemma has come off the bench during our last three matches which have ended in losses, but despite the disappointing results, she is backing the team to recover when we play Birmingham next Wednesday (4 December) and is proud of how we’ve taken to the top flight so far.
“It’s definitely been a tough time,” Gemma admitted. “A lot of players here haven’t experienced three games in a week before, at this level, and not only was it three games in a week, but we were playing probably the two heavyweights of the league in one week. To be fair, I thought we performed really well against Arsenal at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, and then we were a little bit tired against Chelsea, who are another top team and arguably the best team in the league right now. Then an away game followed that, it’s tough, but it’s a learning curve for everyone and sometimes mentality has to take over a little bit. I’m sure we’ll get it right next week. There’s a good vibe around the Club and I think we have surpassed expectations anyway and we need to remember how much we have achieved already.
“I think it’s important now in this brief break, as we don’t have a game on Sunday, that we reflect on what’s been quite a difficult week, get the recovery we need and then get on the pitch and fix what needs to be fixed, keep building and growing as a team.”
After our midweek trip to Birmingham, we are in action at The Hive for back-to-back home matches against Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday 8 December (2pm kick-off) before we host Lewes in the Continental League Cup on Wednesday 11 December, kick-off at 7:30pm. Get your tickets here.