Shocked doesn’t even begin to cover Newcastle United footballer Megan McKenzie’s reaction when hearing she was the SSE Women’s FA Cup Player of the Round.
But after scoring twice in her own side’s cup shock, keeping a clean-sheet and making a goal-saving tackle or two along the way, it’s fair to say she was fully deserving of the gong after her side’s upset win over Nottingham Forest.
Few had given the Northern Division One side much hope against their superior opposition in the second round, though the wingback and her team had other ideas. Scoring after the break, McKenzie’s brace proved the difference not only for the team, but her own personal success too – even if it took a while to come to terms with the achievement.
“I feel taken aback by this award, I wasn’t expecting it at all but it’s a great honour and I’m very proud to say that I’m the Player of the Round,” said McKenzie, who works in marketing.
“I just didn’t think you could win anything like that in this league, I always thought it was for teams higher up in the divisions so it was massively unexpected.
“I got a call from Andy (Inness, first-team manager), I was at work and he gave me a ring and I was shocked by it – the team like to wind me up so I thought he was having a laugh.
“But he put on his serious voice and then I realised what was going on.
“It’s an unbelievable achievement and I hadn’t told anyone about it, not even my parents, I kept it to myself but hopefully taking the trophy home will allow them to be proud!”
McKenzie’s feat was made all the more special by her own admittance at not being a clinical finisher. Indeed this brace doubled her tally for the entire season, with her four-goal haul far unlike anything else has seen in any other campaign.
Her chance to extend that number could come as soon as January 7, with the SSE Women’s FA Cup third round seeing Newcastle host The New Saints – a round United have never previously ventured to.
And while a trip to the Wembley for the final may be a long way down the line, the 21-year-old is allowing herself to dream, if only for a moment.
“I don’t score 35-yarders! One of them was a bit of a tap-in, I was in the right place at the back post but the other one was a half-volley – I play as a wing-back so getting forward and to that back post as much as possible,” added the Academy graduate.
“The FA Cup means a lot to the girls and the club, we take it very seriously and so do the men’s team, but to beat someone from the league above us really was a big achievement.
“We always get really psyched before a Cup game, it means a lot and we know how good it would mean for the club to move on, get their name forward and progressing as far as possible.
“If we managed to play a WSL team soon that would be an unbelievable achievement for the club and the girls – it’s something we’d love to do but you can’t get carried away.
“You’ve got to take each game as it comes and we’ve got the next round in the first weekend after the Christmas break so we’ve got to be ready.”
(Images: Paul Norris | Sportsbeat)
Tickets are now on sale for the SSE Women’s FA Cup Final on Saturday 5th May at Wembley Stadium connected by EE. For more information about tickets and SSE’s involvement in women’s football visit www.sponsorship.sse.com.