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Imogen Allison

Image: Ben Lumley

Imogen Allison knew a move to Manchester Thunder would involve hard work, but she did not fully realise the graft would include learning TikTok dances.

The former Team Bath stalwart joined the North West franchise ahead of the 2024 season and has continued the form that earned her move to help them to a 10th-consecutive top four finish.

She has been reunited with goal shooter Paige Reed, and alongside Taylor McKevitt, has formed a trio that can perform on and off the court.

“Taylor is like ‘Right we are doing this, this week’ and you have to send in progress reports,” Allison said. “No, I’m only joking!

“I’ve always been a bit of a TikTok fan, at England I have done it with Fran Williams and Liv Tchine.

@imoallison This song stuck in our heads 5eva x @Paige @Taylor @Manchester Thunder Netball #fyp ♬ MILLION DOLLAR BABY (VHS) – Tommy Richman

“Social media comes with pros and cons but the pros of it are to show your personality which I think is huge.

“Taylor is big on the TikTok stuff and the Thunder account is always popping off so we like a little pre-game dance.

“Your on-court presence is not necessarily how you are off-court when the adrenaline and the competitiveness takes over.

“I think people see a lot of that and then off-court it is good for them to see that we are just like them, we are pretty relatable and we have a laugh. Using social media for that is great.”

Taylor McKevitt

Taylor McKevitt is Thunder’s TikTok Creator-in-Chief

Thunder were the first team to confirm their place in the semi-finals, doing so in Round 13 with defending champions Loughborough Lightning and last year’s losing finalists London Pulse joining them in Round 14.

It is the latter who Manchester Thunder face this weekend, taking on Pulse at the AO Arena with Allison relishing the opportunity to experience the atmosphere as a home player in what is a possible forerunner of a play-off match later in June.

She added: “It will be a great game. We are really looking forward to playing at AO Arena, obviously, arena games come with a whole heap of atmosphere and showmanship with the big crowds.

“It is always a good game between Thunder and Pulse so we are excited for that and hopefully they are too because it is always fun playing in front of a big crowd.

“There is a lot of jobs left to do but getting into the semi-final is definitely job one and we were really happy that we were the first team to get that.

“Job two, getting a home semi-final is to come.”

Imogen Allison

Allison has thrived since moving to Thunder

Allison was recently named in the Vitality Roses cohort for another season with a strong Thunder presence among the England and Future Roses squads.

She begrudgingly accepts the mantle of a senior England player but has enjoyed being of mid-level experience in a stacked Thunder side.

The experience continues onto the bench with the franchise led by Karen Greig and ably supported by Laura Malcolm, with the former England co-captain spending the season as a technical support coach.

“Laura has always been an incredibly intelligent player,” Allison explained. “I learnt a lot from her when we were playing together in the England side so to now learn from her as a coach is pretty good.

“It’s amazing the amount of feedback we get, and she is so clear with what she wants us to do, she keeps us accountable and some of the stuff she comes up with blows my mind.

“I’m like ‘ah yeah, why weren’t we always doing that? That would make life so much easier’.

“She just thinks of loads of cool stuff to try out and do and makes the game really fun.”

@thunder_netball2 weeks fo go!!

♬ original sound – Manchester Thunder Netball

There is a huge emphasis on fun at Thunder, which can feel at odds to the ruthless nature with which they battle against teams on the court.

The side has become known for hating to lose, which has happened only once so far this season, at home to Loughborough Lightning in Round 6 before getting revenge on the road.

Once the final buzzer goes, the team is allowed to enjoy their victories briefly before getting back down to business. Allison said: “The thing with this team is if we haven’t stuck to the gameplan and we haven’t played how we wanted to play we are still a little bit gutted.

“That loss against Loughborough, we were determined not to let it happen again when we went to their home venue, and we were really happy to get over the line there.

“Even there, we knew we could have done some things differently to stick to gameplans.

“We do it to ourselves as much as Karen does it, we are having little debriefs between us on how we can do things better even when we win.

“That is what makes the team culture so good, we will take the positives forward but we’re always looking at how we can do better.”

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