Ellie Stewart: Blackburn Rovers and the influence of Mo Marley

You signed for Blackburn Rovers in 2018.How are you enjoying your time at the club so for and how would you describe a club such as Blackburn Rovers?

I would say that Blackburn Rovers is very much a family environment and everyone is welcome here and I definitely got that so when I started I saw that everybody works hard and we just want the best for the club really. We are a massive unit and as a team we all get on so well so it is a really good environment to be in and to be able to thrive in as well.

You came through the youth setup and went on to make first team appearances for Everton. How do you look back on your time at the club and do you have any highlights or memories?

I would say due to the fact that I have grown up through Everton and I was there from the age of nine. There is one moment that really stands out and that would be getting the chance to work with the likes of Mo Marley on a day to day basis, she was a massive support with my development and not just on the pitch but also on a personal level as well.

I have a lot of time for Mo and I really enjoyed the things and opportunities that she has given me it was really good to be at the centre of excellence, not so much first team if I am completely honest it did not go as well as I planned or as I thought it would go but it is a learning curve you pick yourself up and move on again.

You played one season for Sunderland AFC Ladies. How do you look back on your time at the club and do you have any special memories or highlights?

Yes, I moved up in 2017 and I was living in Newcastle in the digs that the club had put me up in and hindsight is a really good thing, the situation that we were in at the time was not ideal for example we were not allowed in the training ground and things like that so we were training on University pitches. Looking back it was amazing, the girls there were fantastic and I have made some “friends for life.”

At the time I would probably not have told you that I would have said maybe I am missing home a bit and my Football was not going the way I wanted too and maybe I was not fit enough, those are the things I would have said at the time and looking back I can be grateful for that opportunity, the memories made and the people I met and I enjoyed my time at Sunderland it was really good.

You are still young and you have accrued good experience at club level and youth international level , could you say who are among the best players you have played alongside so far in your career?

Yes definitely, I played with and against some fantastic talent and a few players that stand out for me would be Lucy Bronze. That kind of name speaks for itself, Whitney Engen was an American international and to be training full time with them at Liverpool when I was 17 was unbelievable. I would go into training and I would see Lucy running up and down the pitch and the girl would literally never stop and it was like that is where I need to be, she had and could do everything.

Another player that stands out is Gemma Bonner, she became captain of the club at a young age and she helped to develop me as a person and I am still in contact with Gemma now. She is a great person and a really good footballer too. I have been fortunate to play with many good players so far in my career.

I can imagine in your position as a defender that you have come up against some difficult opponents, could you say which opponents have stood out for you in terms of talent and ability so far in your career?

I would probably go back to my days at Sunderland AFC and we were often up against the cosh. Vivianne Miedema stood out, if you can keep her quiet in a game you are doing really well to be fair. I would not say I kept her quiet but we will leave that one to the imagination but she is still quite young herself and she seems just to get on with her business and she has done really well for herself and I wish her all the best.

She was really difficult to play against and if you look at her statistics for last season in particular her stats are a joke but it is good to share the pitch with talented people and it is a good challenge too to see where I am at as a player.

Finally Ellie, you mentioned Mo Marley, could you say who are the coaches and managers that have meant a lot to you and played a key role in your development as a professional football player?

Yes, I mentioned Mo Marley earlier on in the interview and her name speaks ridiculous volumes with the amount of things she has done in Women’s football but I would say the managers that really stand out to me are the ones that touched me personally and not just the ones that give me the orders on the pitch but the ones that get to know you off it and I would say Gemma Donnelly at Blackburn Rovers.

We have a really good relationship and she trusts me to go out on pitch and do a job and off the pitch as well we have built that trust up and I appreciate the relationship that we have got, It is open and honest I know exactly where I stand with her and she knows where she stands with me and that is how we deal with things I would say.

She has massively helped me not just on the pitch probably more so off the pitch to be fair. When you are feeling good off it you are going to feel good on it. I have a lot of time for Gemma and I am grateful for the friendship we have got to be fair.

FEATURE PHOTOGRAPH: James Boyes

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