Angharad James believes Everton Ladies’ team spirit will serve them well as they prepare to kick off their WSL 1 campaign against Liverpool on Friday.
The Blue Girls begin the season with a Merseyside derby at the Select Security Stadium, live on BT Sport, with a 7.45pm kick-off.
The Wales midfielder, who helped her country to a 1-0 win over Kazakhstan in their World Cup qualifier on Sunday, knows the value of a close-knit squad, having come within 90 minutes of lifting the WSL title while at Bristol Academy.
With a squad assembled without any recognised major stars, the Vixens were only denied the title after losing at Liverpool on the final day of the 2013 campaign, with the Reds going on to be crowned champions.
But James acknowledges the secret behind the success she enjoyed at Bristol and is happy to see a familiar ethic taking form at Everton.
“Team spirit was huge for us in that run,” she recalls. “It was drilled into us that it was vitally important to have that togetherness.
“It was so close – right to the last day of the season – and it was the team spirit that got us there. I remember there was one game where we were 3-0 down at half time against Doncaster but came back to win the game 4-3. We had that fight in us and a belief that we could still win the game.
“It is important that we get that team spirit going. But I think we definitely have that here. Team bonding is important off the pitch to help us become like a family, which is huge if you want to be successful. That is something we will continue to do.”
James is one of seven new faces in the squad but the camaraderie within the group has already helped her settle in.
Indeed, she has moved into a house alongside fellow new signings Jodie Brett, Chloe Kelly and Lizzie Durack plus striker Claudia Walker. That has only helped her bond with her teammates.
“They have been great, and I have settled really well in the house,” added James. “It’s a lovely place, in a great area and it’s close to the training ground which is ideal. We have a great bunch here and I have bonded especially with those four.
“It’s good fun having a group where everyone is a similar age. Everyone is on the same page. I do feel experience is vital and in this instance it is slightly different here but everyone is after the same goal. Hopefully we can go on and achieve that.”