Home Grown Hero: Hayley Crackle
The first in a new series of features charting the rise of Villa’s homegrown players.
Hayley Crackle is Aston Villa through and through, starting her career with the club she supports at the age of just nine when she joined the Girls Centre of Excellence.
Now 23, the defender is in a great position to reflect on how the club have helped shape her as a person and a player as she progressed from the youth ranks into the first team.
Crackle can fondly recall the delight she felt at signing for the club she loves.
She said: “When you’re a Villa fan and you’ve been coming to the stadium for many, many years before you sign, it’s really special and it still is now whenever I get to put the kit on.
“I couldn’t have wished to play for a better club to be honest. When I was going through the Centre of Excellence, we were one of the best teams in the country, so it was a really good youth system to grow up with.
“It developed me as a player and many other players who are playing in the top leagues in England.”
Nine of Villa’s current squad of 20 players are homegrown, and Crackle says there is a special bond between those who have come through the ranks together.
She said: “I’ve got friends that I still play alongside today, like Elisha N’dow and Amy West. You’re like a little family as you grow up together.
“You go through the age groups, support each other and when you get to the senior team it’s really special because you’ve shared that journey together.”
As a big Villa fan, Crackle also revels in the fact that she’s an example for the club’s young players to follow when they’re trying to reach the senior team.
She said: “There are so many players in the team now that have come through the various age groups and it’s really important for the next generation to see us homegrown players in the first team. They can look at us and think ‘I can do that’.”
You can watch a video version of Home Grown Hero with Hayley Crackle on the Aston Villa Ladies Twitter and Facebook pages, simply search @AVLFCOfficial on the relevant platform.