By George Overhill

30th May, 2022 | 6:40am

West Ham Women expert laments captain Gilly Flaherty's exit at the same time as boss Olli Harder

We’re delighted to welcome Michelle Irons as our exclusive West Ham Women expert. Each week she’ll be giving her views on the biggest talking points at Victoria Road…

West Ham Women expert Michelle Irons was disappointed to lose influential centurion captain Gilly Flaherty simultaneously to manager Olli Harder.

The former Chelsea player was central to the club’s development into a Womens Super League fixture but leaves at the end of her contract.

She had joined ahead of the inaugural campaign in 2018, and while there was a ready-made replacement for the managerial role in the form of Paul Konchesky, it will be more difficult to replace the Hammers defender, and Irons was disappointed by the news.

Speaking exclusively to West Ham Zone she said: “At the same time as the managerial change the club announced that the captain Gilly Flaherty would also be leaving the club after the expiration of her contract. 

“She tweeted that she was not retiring and would continue to play. Since Gilly has been at the club she has been a ever-present figure, captaining the side throughout difficult seasons and has been a real professional. 

“She is the first professional of the women’s side to reach 100 appearances since it became a full time member of the WSL. 

“Gilly always gave 100% and will be sorely missed by the fans. Her experience and effort is recognised by us and we wont be the same without her. 

“Losing our manager and captain in the same afternoon was a bitter pill to swallow but we go away for the summer and hopefully come back for another shot at the WSL in an ever-growing and exciting league.”

Flaherty will forever have her place in West Ham Women’s history for her leading role in the transformation from being a debut outfit to a top half side in the WSL.

In a statement on the club website she said: “It is with immense sadness that I leave West Ham United this summer.

“I have genuinely loved every minute of my time with this Club and am so proud of my role in the journey this team has undergone in the last four years. 

“It was an honour to be named the first captain of a professional West Ham women’s team. 

“Away from the pitch, I have made friends for life, and I am going to miss coming into training at Chadwell Heath every day.”

In other West Ham news, a key signing for the men’s side looks like he might be arriving for an outstanding low fee.

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