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Gabby Marshall

Image: Ben Lumley

Gabby Marshall believes Severn Stars could have a ‘Leicester City moment’ if they manage to win their first Netball Super League title.

After a team rebuild two years ago, Stars have flourished this season, securing a fourth-placed finish and a semi-final spot for the first time and now face four-time champions Manchester Thunder in Saturday’s semi-final.

Despite already exceeding external expectations, captain Marshall believes anything is possible and wants to go all the way.

Marshall said: “To have made history with this group is a huge honour but we know we can make more now, and that’s exciting. We don’t want to settle for top four but keep making history as a group.

“It would be quite a story if we manage to win the league on the back of no longer being a team next season and we know that in sport, anything can happen.

“I’m a big sports fan, so I look at the likes of Leicester winning the Premier League when nobody thought they would, and as an Everton fan, nobody thought we could avoid relegation for this many seasons in a row!

“So I just think ‘why not?’ We’ve earned the right to play in the finals, so let’s go and compete against the best and try and create a bit of history along the way.”

 

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A post shared by Gabby Marshall (@gabslmarshall)

As Marshall prepares to lead her side out in Manchester, she reflected on how it could have all been very different.

Surgeries on both her ankles at the same time almost led to her falling out of love with netball and she considered stepping away from the league before Stars head coach Jo Trip reached out.

“It’s been a wild two years,” Marshall added. “It just started off with a text from Jo saying ‘Hey, fancy a move to Worcester?’

“I would never have imagined it would have turned out quite like this. It absolutely reignited my love for the sport, at a time when it would have been easy for me to stop playing Super League netball.

“I have to pinch myself – it could have all turned out very differently and I’m glad it didn’t.”

Sigi Burger and Gabby Marshall

Image: Ben Lumley

Marshall joined Stars two years ago as part of a rebuild under Trip, with an almost entirely new squad brought in. The initial success of last season’s sixth-place finish was built upon with more fresh faces this year.

Whilst the team knew internally that top four would be possible, Marshall credits the culture of the club for the success they have had this season.

“I think if you’d have told me when I first signed for Stars that we’d be in the top four and playing finals series this season, I don’t think I would have believed you,” she said.

“But this season, we were quietly confident in ourselves. The culture and sense of togetherness we have here is second to none. I think that’s really got us over the line in those close performances.

“We haven’t necessarily got ‘big name’ superstars – although everybody I believe should be in their own right because they’ve proven it this season. The likes of Jess Shaw putting out fantastic performances week in week out, Sigi Burger holding her own in the shooting circle every week and emerging stars like Jas Brown.

“If you look at us on paper, we’re probably not the flashiest of teams and people can form their own opinions on that – but we’ve gone out and done the business every week so confidence has grown in the group and it all comes back to the culture we have built.”

 

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A post shared by Gabby Marshall (@gabslmarshall)

For Marshall, the clash against Manchester Thunder brings the added element of returning to where it all started.

“I owe a lot to the North West in terms of my netball upbringing, so this is a bit of a full circle moment heading back to Thunder,” she said.

“I’ve not played in a final series since I was back in Manchester as a child and now I’m towards the end of my career and have the honour of leading this team out there.

“I’m just so proud to captain this team and this franchise with the pathway, the volunteers and the fans that we have. Stars feels like home for me which is a really nice feeling.

“There’s no shying away from the fact that it’s been a difficult few weeks for the club and the news has impacted a lot of people – the players, the staff, the pathway and the fans of course.

“But it’s also an exciting time for netball in this country, with two new teams entering the Super League.

“Two seasons ago, we had a pretty much brand new playing squad and now we are in the semi-final, which shows that if you get the right people in the room together and the right culture, that anything is possible.”

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