By George Overhill

10th Jul, 2022 | 9:10pm

West Ham Women expert pays tribute to Gilly Flaherty as club enters new era

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 has paid tribute to former club captain Gilly Flaherty during a summer of change at Rush Green.

The 30-year-old played a crucial part in the development of the Hammers’ Women but departed this summer following the conclusion of the WSL season, posting on her personal Twitter account: “Sometimes in life things don’t work out how you’d imagine them too but I’ll always hold this club in my heart. Hopefully my team mates, staff & fans know that I gave everything every time I wore the shirt”.

After four years with the club she exits at the same time as former boss Olli Harder, as the Irons face a new era under Paul Konchesky, but the contribution that the ex-skipper made in her time here was vital and Irons has only good things to say.

“As the season came to a close it was announced that our captain Gilly would be leaving West Ham,” Irons said, speaking exclusively to West Ham Zone.

“This came as a shock for us fans as she’s been with us since we entered the WSL in 2018 and became a professional team.

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“Gilly recently reached 100 appearances with the Hammers and this was celebrated by the club during the home game against Manchester City. 

“A strong defender who some considered to have taken a major risk by signing for West Ham she had a stellar first season and took us to the club’s first ever appearance in the Women’s FA Cup Final in 2019.

“Gilly is a traditional centre-back, a proper no-nonsense footballer with a real set of qualities as a person.

“I have spoken to her on a few occasions and she was always very approachable and friendly.

“It’s a shame to see her leave the club as I believed she would have one more season with the Hammers.

“It was a real privilege to have her as our captain and ambassador and every fan will no doubt continue to speak highly of her.”

BBC Sport journalist Emma Sanders has recently reported on Twitter that the former Chelsea and Arsenal player is set to join newly promoted Liverpool.

As with Katerina Svitkova, who has joined Emma Hayes’ champions, it will be difficult for fans to see former Hammers standouts on the opposing side in the WSL, but the leadership Flaherty showed during a crucial period in this side’s history won’t be forgotten in a hurry.