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Womens Premiership


08 Jun 2021
Few players last over a decade at any one football club, but Glentoran Women stalwart Kelly Bailie has redefined any reasonable measure of longevity.
Now aged 40, Bailie is into her 25th season at the East Belfast club and remains one of the first names on the teamsheet in a side packed full of Northern Ireland internationals.
Having amassed over 30 trophies for the club - some of which were attained before many of her teammates were born - is a reflection of the benchmark she has set in the local game.
Bailie - who is ten years older than the second most senior member of the Glens squad, Nadene Caldwell - is still full of enthusiasm and is committed to the cause as ever.
She explained: “I still love playing, training and being part of the club - I know that now, I have to work extra hard to be able to maintain that but it’s worth it in the long run.
“If you enjoy doing something and you can still compete at that level, then why would you give it up?
“Throughout my time at the club I have won a lot of league titles and different trophies, that is a big element of what keeps you hungry and motivated.
“But you go through periods of transition too and that is when you see the best in the players because everyone is desperate to earn that success.”
Bailie - a mainstay for the international side, whom she captained, over many years - spent four years on a scholarship in the USA earlier in her career but such was her commitment to the club, she returned to Northern Ireland each summer to play.
With a keen eye for goal and having played in multiple attacking positions for the club, she is now deployed in the Glens defence.
“I have played in pretty much every outfield position for the club,” added Bailie.
“Obviously as you get older and you physically change a bit, sometimes you aren’t as capable as playing in some positions so I have had to adapt my own game.
“Now I have gotten accustomed to playing deeper and in defence, so now my game is more focused on preventing goals than scoring them.”
Having spent the majority of her life playing for Glentoran, the nature and timespan of the relationship means she is keen to still be involved with the club when she eventually hangs up her boots.
“I have always said to myself that once that day comes, I would want a short period of a break to reflect but then to stay involved at some capacity with the club,” Bailie continued.
“It has been a huge part of my life for the last 25 years and obviously it would be ideal for me to stay involved with Glentoran on some level.
“When you’re still playing, it’s not something you give too much attention too as all your focus is on your own game and winning.”
The veteran also added that not only was the quality of the play in the league better than ever, but the speed of it too - adding an extra layer of importance to maintaining high fitness levels.
“The league is now more competitive than ever - you can see that alone in Derry City, who found it tough for a few years but are now starting to win games, score goals regular and make every game a battle,” said Bailie. 
“The speed of play and the quality of the players is improving - from the international setup to the club sides, there is now a much bigger focus on patterns of play.
“Every aspect of the game from the coaching, to the standard of players coming through and the type of football being played is now much stronger.”
The Glens find themselves five points behind league leaders Cliftonville Ladies - who have won all six of their opening fixtures - in what promises to be a fascinating title race.
However, Baillie insists her side remain full of self-belief: “Whenever the league is this competitive, all teams will drop points and have a tough run - especially over the course of 20 games.
“We came off a brilliant season last time out - even though that was a shortened league - but we are growing into the season and the players confidence is increasing each week.
“Sometimes during games I think to myself that we are playing a style and standard of football that we have never reached before.
“Maybe the small margins have not been what they could have been for us so far in terms of the decisive areas on the pitch, and that could be a big thing over the course of a season.
“If we can get those right then we are confident of what we are capable of doing but every game is enjoyable and it is a battle - it is what you want as a player.”