Labouring at the foot of WSL 2 since its inception, the Bees climbed to a lofty seventh in 2016, the gains far more substantia than they seem, the team able to come together on the pitch and put out some good football under Dave Edmondson.
A mixed bag of a Spring Series campaign saw Edmondson depart to be replaced by Luke Swindlehurst in July, the manager quick to add to his new team. Players already familiar to the league Nicola Hobbs, Rosie Lane, Destiny Toussaint and Chelsea Weston brought in as he gave new deals to Evie Clarke, Lucy Loomes and Ocean Rolandsen with Rosie Kmita and Lisa Milliken joining from lower down the pyramid. Although regular skipper, Ashleigh Goddard is set to miss out on a large part of the season as she recovers from a dislocated shoulder the team is in the strongest shape it’s been as London Bees, only a Wembley side boasting a young Kelly Smith could have looked brighter.
A team that will always score goals, Jo Wilson and Clarke have struck up a strong partnership leading the line for the London side, their haul likely to be supplemented by the likes of Loomes and Hana Lalani. With Goddard out the team lose a huge presence in midfield, although with more defensive reinforcements, Emma Beckett should back in her midfield home and ready to pick up the slack. A strong start to the season could be enough to see the team digging out points at every turn, their greatest problem this season easily being avoiding overuse of buzzing puns.
Breakthrough season ahead?
Back to playing football under Edmondson, Swindlehurst looks set to continue pushing the Bees to bigger and better things, consistency paramount, injuries over 2016 enough to derail the team that lacked depth. But now with options on the bench as well as a healthy dose of experience with Weston and Hobbs, the team looks ready to take on the best of the league and challenge for a top four spot.