How times have changed for AFC Fylde Women and their brilliant Wales international defender Olivia Fuller.
The 23-year-old from Prestatyn was devastated at the start of May 2020 when Fylde announced their women’s side would be disbanding due to the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Four weeks later, however, the club reversed their decision, having come up with a restructuring that allowed it to survive.
The news obviously served as a massive boost to Olivia and her squad mates, as the Coasters currently lead the third-tier FA Women’s National League Northern Premier Division after a tremendous start to the campaign.
Olivia joined Fylde in July 2017. The club had been rebranded Fylde Ladies FC the previous year after switching its association from Preston North End to AFC Fylde.
The daughter of former Southport, Rhyl and Colwyn Bay defender, as well as championship-winning Prestatyn Town manager Dave Fuller, Olivia is part of a football-mad family and was always destined to be a top player.
Her first team was Prestatyn Girls, who she represented for a couple of years before joining Liverpool Centre Of Excellence at the age of 9.
She stayed with Liverpool, where she won the FA Youth Cup, for 10 years before moving to Sheffield, then onto Fylde three years ago.
Originally a centre-midfielder, she found her true niche as a centre-back.
Her proudest moment in football to date undoubtedly came on June 1, 2014, when Olivia captained Liverpool to a 1-0 victory over Merseyside rivals Everton in the FA Girls’ Youth Cup Final at the MK Stadium, MK Dons FC.
Kess Elmore scored the only goal in the second half of a game showcasing some of the top young talent in the UK, mainly from England.
The Liverpool team that day lined up:
1 Rachel Darbyshire, 2 Natasha Rothery, 4 Summer Smith, 5 Olivia Fuller (C), 6 Rachel Robinson, 7 Jess Davenport, 10 Mollie Green, 11 Blue Pendlebury, 14 Mayumi Gillam, 18 Kess Elmore, 19 Beth Evans. Substitutes: 12 Lizzie Earle for Evans (46), 8 Hayley Taylor for Smith (68). Substitutes not used: 3 Francesca Curteis, 9 Emily Curteis, 13 Jess Carberry, 15 Charlie Johnson, 16 Eleanor Threlkeld.
Olivia has been capped for her country all the way up to under-19 level.
One of her greatest days came when playing for Wales U-16’s against England. The Welsh were losing 1-0, until they got a free-kick which Olivia took and scored straight from.
She was involved in the Wales teams from the ages of 13-19, captaining the U-16’s, and took part in tournaments in England, Ireland, Scotland and European competitions in Latvia, Denmark and Macedonia.
Olivia is one of a number of talented North Wales girls to shine in the English system in recent years, alongside the likes of current senior Wales squad player Elise Hughes, plus Cassia Pike, Shannon Dukes, Emily Jones and Hannah Keryakoplis.