Gabby George believes the vocal backing of a passionate crowd of Evertonians can help the Blues kickstart their season with victory over Birmingham City at Walton Hall Park on Saturday (11.30am BST).
Willie Kirk’s side will take to the field at their purpose-built home just three-and-half hours before the Everton men’s team host Norwich City at Goodison Park – meaning fans can enjoy a Toffees double-header by attending both matches.
George has yet to perform in front of fans at Walton Hall Park, having suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury six days before the Blues’ opening game at their new stadium against Manchester United in February 2020.
And with games last season played behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the centre-back is savouring the prospect of her first “proper” experience at Everton Women’s new home.
“That United game was my first match in the stands after the injury – it wasn’t a good memory for me, so I’ll be trying to make Saturday a much better day,” she explained.
“It’ll be great to open Walton Hall Park properly. I don’t think it’s a real home game without the fans.
“We want to get as many people down there as possible to cheer us on. They can be our 12th player.
“The support means a lot to the girls. We want to get our first win of the season – it would be great to get it in front of big crowd.”
With many Everton squad members currently on international duty, George explained how she has used the break to work closely with Blues coaches on technical and tactical elements.
The defender also revealed the collective determination within the group to achieve maximum points against Birmingham on Saturday. The Toffees go into the match on the back of defeats to last season’s WSL champions Chelsea and runners-up Manchester City in their opening two WSL matches.
“It’s been a tough two games but we can’t feel sorry for ourselves,” said George, who signed a new three-year contract with Everton in July.
“We have a real belief in the team.
“In football, you have to learn how to bounce back and how to do it quickly.
“You can’t dwell on losses and or get too high when you get a win either. It’s a long season and we’ve just got to give each other confidence.
“The manager has told us we need to stick together.
“We all know one or two games are not going to define our season. We have learned a lot from those performances [against City and Chelsea] and that will only help us going forward.”
George made her injury comeback in Everton’s 3-2 win at Tottenham Hotspur in February, more than a year after fully rupturing her ACL.
Following an intensive pre-season, she has started both Everton’s WSL games so far this term and says she feels back in optimum condition.
“I’ve put the injury behind me,” she added. “Obviously, in every game you’re going to improve.
“Now, I’m just working hard in training to become a better version of me every day. I’m in good shape, and I’m just going to try to keep pushing and trying to develop.
“Since my first training session back after the injury, I threw myself into a tackle and everyone was quite surprised!
“I think that’s the only way you can get over it. There’s no point in being scared and holding back, that’s just going to hinder your performances.
“I’m happy to throw myself about and put my body on the line when needed. That’s just me.
*Please note, car parking is not available at Walton Hall Park on Saturday but fans can park at Stanley Park Car Park for £10 for the full day.