THERE will be plenty of people in these parts hoping for an Aston Villa victory in the FA Cup final against Arsenal on May 30, but a Studley High School pupil has her own big occasion to look forward to against the Gunners whilst wearing the claret and blue that weekend.
Lucy Shepherd will be playing for Aston Villa’s U17 girls’ team against Arsenal in the FA U17s girls’ Cup final at Stratford Town FC on May 31 – just a day after Villa have taken on Arsenal at Wembley bidding to win their first silverware since 1996.
Sixteen-year-old Lucy and her young Villa team-mates will be aiming to make it a double delight for the campaign with cup glory having already won the Midlands Girls Centre of Excellence League U17 title for the second successive season, edging local rivals Birmingham City into second place for the second year in a row.
Lucy and her team-mates have certainly earned their place in the cup final, having travelled the length and breadth of the country in defeating Lincoln City, York City, Blackburn Rovers and Gillingham – all away from home – to reach the Stratford showpiece.
Lucy is in her sixth season at Villa and it has been one to savour for the winger as she tops the team’s goalscoring charts.
The young prospect began her footballing career at Studley Juniors where she played in boys’ teams until she was too old to continue and had to switch to girls’ football.
She was spotted by a Villa scout and, having impressed through the age groups at the Premier League club, she is now on course to become part of the club’s Development team, which is the step below Villa’s Women’s Super League outfit.
Lucy, who is also a talented badminton player, swimmer and athlete, has also caught the eye of the England women’s set-up having been invited to a training camp at the lavish St George’s Park national football centre.
As a 14-year-old, Lucy was chosen to play for the England School Girls’ Football Association squad after playing at county level, when she was the only girl from Warwickshire to be picked for the nation’s U15 girls’ team.