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Last Updated: Monday, 23 July 2007, 11:55 GMT 12:55 UK
The journey of Lammack Ladies

Hannah Stacey
By Hannah Stacey
BBC South West

Lammack Ladies Marni Sidhu poses for the camera
Stacey Barnes and Marni Sidhu, who also doubles up as Lammack's coach

Their route to the Your Game women's finals may have been slightly unconventional, but Lammack Ladies were not in Manchester to make up numbers.

The feisty girls from Blackburn qualified for the finals when Nacro Salford United, the team that beat them in a penalty shoot-out at the Manchester festival, withdrew at the last minute.

And it didn't take long to show they were worthy competitors when Nicola Forscer fired home in the first minute of their opening match.

"I'm quietly confident, the first win is good for the team and hopefully a good start," said the 16-year-old striker, the youngest member of the team after the final whistle.

It was a different story two years ago when the team tried to get themselves established.

Team captain and coach Marni Sidhu explained how they struggled to persuade potential players to turn up for training sessions in Preston.

"We tried using flyers, but after a year of training with just three people I turned to my sister and said 'look I'm setting this up and you're playing!'" said the 21-year-old student.

The more we promote the fact they have been to a high-profile, prestigious event like this the more it will help the club move forward

Club chairman Dickson

They finally got themselves a strip after their local newsagents relented to their persistent pleading and gave them the 350 they needed for 11 shirts.

And Lammack News got its first splash on the back of a football shirt at one of the country's most high-profile sport facilities.

"We promised to buy loads of chewing gum off them!" joked 19-year-old Stacey Barnes. "You have to do a lot to look good, everyone's pulling together to help us."

Stacey knows all about impressing on the pitch after landing a scholarship to play football and study health promotion at a sport college in America.

Her ball skills were first spotted by a football coach after she posted her player profile on a special website.

And thanks to her parents' camcorder skills she added footage of herself playing, including action from the early stages of the Your Game tournament.

Sue Smith in action for England
Sue Smith: Impressed with the standard in the women's game

Nigel Dickson, chairman of Lammack Junior Football Club, was also at the Sportcity complex to cheer the girls on.

"They're a good set of girls, they work hard. I think it's good to come and play other teams, make new friends, hopefully play more games," he said.

"It is important to provide these opportunities especially for the ladies teams, I'm very impressed with the standard of football."

Alongside Dickson on the sidelines was England women's international Sue Smith.

"I think it's fantastic, seeing all these girls it is great, and great to hear some of them want to play for England," said the Leeds striker.

During the matches Sue roamed the touchlines chatting to the teams and despite the non-stop drizzle, her enthusiasm for the beautiful game never waned.

She said: "I see myself as a role model, I want to be an inspiration for them to play, I am impressed with the standard here."

Things were looking promising for the Lammack Ladies - they qualified for the quarter-finals where they produced their performance of the day with a 4-1 win over SYPP Ladies from Nottingham.

Lammack Ladies
Lammack Ladies were knocked out in the semi-finals

But their ambitions of lifting the Your Game trophy were dashed after a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Wirral Ladies in the semi-finals.

So what about the future for these aspiring players? Chairman Dickson's first priority is to raise the team's profile in Blackburn.

"We'll publicise it, get a write up in a local paper, put it in the club's newsletter, it all helps," he said.

"The more we promote the fact they have been to a high-profile, prestigious event like this the more it will help the club move forward.

"It is very important, especially for the women in the area, as there are not the same opportunities as there are in the men's game.

"From this if it means some of them go on to play more football it will have all been worth while."

Your Game is a partnership between the BBC and Football Foundation supported by Barclays Spaces for Sports.

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