Long-serving Rotherham United Women’s stalwart Val Hoyle was rightfully bursting with pride after receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award for services to the grassroots game, admitting she was speechless after receiving the good news.
Now in her 52nd season with the Millers, Val learned of the news via a video call from Arsenal Women legend Kelly Smith.
Val’s journey with the Millers began when she was just 11-years-old, when she founded Rotherham United Women’s Club (formerly Kilnhurst Ladies Football Club) back in 1969, she went on to play for her hometown club for 30 years, before hanging up her boots aged 41.
Her time with Millers Women didn’t end there however, as she went on to perform a variety of roles at the football club including coach, manager and chair as well as her current role as club secretary.
Upon recieving the news from the former England Women striker Smith, Val declared it was one of the proudest moments of her life.
“I’d been asked to phone what I thought was going to be SheKicks magazine, but it turned out it was a phone call from ex-England player Kelly Smith.
“She was quite happy telling me who she was, even though I knew who she was! She then told me I’d won this award which was a bit of a shock.
“I was speechless, I must have gone quiet because she asked me if I wanted her to repeat herself, I said ‘yes you better!’
“I’ve been around women’s football since I was 11, I don’t think there’s been many people who’ve stayed at a football club for so long, so it’s up there with one of the best moments of my life.
“There was me and another girl at school who wanted to play football so we formed our own five-a-side team, obviously there wasn’t much women’s football back then.
“I can remember when I was 16, I used to follow my brother to the old Millmoor to watch Rotherham, I’ve followed the club all my life and tried to watch them as often as I can.”
Rotherham United Head of Community Jamie Noble passed on his congratulations to Val and thanked her for everything she has done for the football club, as well as the town.
“Everyone at Rotherham United would like to pass on their congratulations and sincere gratitude to Val for everything she has done towards women’s football both at Rotherham United and in the town.
“We are very lucky to have her, she’s been a pillar of support over the years doing every job from playing, managing, to being the chair to now being club secretary.
“Without Val, it wouldn’t be the same club that it is now. She even finds time to somehow make sandwiches for the opposition team on a Sunday.
“Without her, we wouldn’t be in the fantastic position that we are in, as I said everybody at Rotherham United and Rotherham United Women would like to pass on their sincere gratitude and we look forward to many more years with Val.”
Images: RUWFC / Alex Roebuck