All great football careers end in retirement and in the past week, an inspirational Linfield captain has called time on an outstandingly successful Linfield career.
33 year old Linfield Ladies captain Sarah Venney has informed her team mates and coaching staff of her intention to retire and bring the curtain down on a Linfield career which ran parallel with the phenomenal success which the team has enjoyed in recent seasons.
Sarah’s spell as captain has seen her lift the following trophies.
3 Premier League titles - 2016, 2017 and 2018
3 Irish Cups - 2013, 2014 and 2016
3 League Cups - 2014, 2017 and 2018
4 County Antrim FA Cups - 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016
In addition, she has captained the team in 2 UEFA Champions League campaigns - games against Finns PK-37 Vantaa, Poles Medyk Konin and Shelbourne, as well as last year’s games against Icelanders Thor-PA, Ajax Amsterdam and Wexford.
She also scored the winner in a 1-0 friendly win for the senior international Northern Ireland team against Estonia in March 2014.
Sarah captained the team under a range of different managers including Ryan McConville, Mark Duff, David Welshman and Phil Lewis, providing stability and leadership through the various changes at the helm.
The contribution Sarah has made to numerous Linfield successes cannot be underestimated.
She has provided a strong presence and influence in the middle of the park and she has been an inspirational leader and role model to the many young players who have played under her captaincy.
By the way she conducted herself on and off the park, she has been a perfect example to all who looked up to her as a leading figure who commanded the respect of all who knew her.
Sarah upheld the highest standards of a Linfield player and Linfield captain and she was always focused on driving the team on to further success.
The season ahead will truly spell the beginning of a new era, with Sarah no longer leading the Linfield team into action.
It means her final game will have been the 5-0 New Midgley Park win against Crusaders on October 14 which was followed by the lifting of the 2018 Danske Bank NIFL Premier League Trophy.
To all who closely followed the successes of the Linfield Ladies team, there have been so many memories and highlights under Sarah’s captaincy and one of her very final games will rank as one of the all time most memorable.
Closing in on a third successive premier league title, Linfield were in disarray at the Oval, 3-0 down at the interval to the second placed Glens. Sarah came on as a second half sub and her experience and influence helped turn the game in one of the most remarkable and spectacular second half comebacks the famous old East Belfast venue will have ever played host to. Linfield’s 5-3 win secured the Premier League crown and led to memorable, joyous, never-to-be-forgotten celebrations post match.
Sarah was a hard working player who gave her all for the team and her team mates and she will be greatly missed by all who appreciated her steadying and calming influence on all around her.
Everyone at Linfield FC thanks and salutes Sarah for the enormous contribution she has made to the ongoing development, not just of Linfield Ladies but also to women’s football in Northern Ireland.
Everyone at Linfield FC wishes popular, reliable and unassuming Sarah every best wish for all she does in the future.
Below are a series of photos highlighting the most enjoyable task any Linfield captain can be asked to carry out - lifting trophies and representing the club in European competition.
Thank you Sarah Venney - a wonderful ambassador for Linfield FC in all she did in her customary dignified and professional manner.
Linfield director with responsibility for Linfield Ladies FC
Above - Premier League successes and below - Irish Cup successes
Below - League cup success
Below - County Antrim FA cup success
UEFA Champions League v Medyk Konin of Poland
UEFA Champions League v Shelbourne
UEFA Champions League v Ajax
UEFA Champions League v Wexford
UEFA Champions League v Icelanders Thor