Manager looks to Rudyard Kipling to inspire her players who rewarded her with a 1-0 win at Wembley
Chelsea 1-0 Notts County by Kadeem Simmonds at Wembley
“YOU’LL be a woman with wisdom.” Those are the words that Chelsea manager Emma Hayes told her players to remember before their 1-0 victory over Notts County in the FA Cup final on Saturday.
The match was held at England’s national stadium for the first time and Ji So Yun’s first-half goal was enough for the Blues, who rarely had to break a sweat throughout the 90 minutes.
Hayes made the players read the iconic If poem by Rudyard Kipling on the way to the stadium but changed the word “men” to “women.” The tactic worked perfectly as the Blues played with a wisdom beyond their years and like a team that had been winning trophies at Wembley for decades.
Hayes was sporting a pink rose, which she said she grew herself in her garden and gave to the players in order to bring a sense of calm before such a huge occasion.
“The pink rose symbolises calm,” said Hayes. “It’s actually a June flower and I gave them a poem today. A beautiful poem about how to become wise women. It’s one of my favourite poems. I asked them to read it on the bus.
“I wanted more than anything else to put them in a calm place and said to them if you achieve these things you will become wise women and what a great thing to look forward to in your life.
“Most of my young players of course thought: ‘It’s the gaffer off her head again’ but my seniors were like: ‘What a lovely gesture.’
“I grew the flowers in my garden. I have been growing it for a period of time for them so I gave all of the players one today.
“That was my gift to them and their gift to me was that performance, today, and I am so proud of them and my staff. They deserve it.”
Notts County started the better of the two sides without really testing goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl. But for all their possession, they found it difficult to break down a stubborn Chelsea side.
The Blues fought back, with player of the match Eni Aluko and Gemma Davison causing havoc down both flanks and after the pair missed a few golden chances, South Korean star Ji scored the only goal of the game after she was played in by Aluko.
The second half began as the first ended, with Chelsea on top and threatening to score once again through the lively Aluko.
Leanne Chrichton went closest for Notts County when her header was cleared off the line by Davison but in the end Chelsea had done enough to secure their first FA Cup win and reward their thoughtful manager.