Chelsea Ladies are on a mission.
The FA WSL 1 champions and SSE Women’s FA Cup holders want to create a dynasty similar to the one started by Vic Akers at Arsenal who, ironically, are the Blues’ opponents in Saturday’s showdown at Wembley.
Chelsea defender Gilly Flaherty spent her formative years with the Gunners, record 13-time Cup winners, and knows only too well the attitude required to become perennial champions.
Arsenal v Chelsea
SSE Women's FA Cup Final
2pm, Saturday 14 May 2016
Wembley Stadium connected by EE
Tickets priced £15 adults, kids go free
She said: “We don’t want to be one-hit wonders. We want to write our own history.
“We don’t want to be seen as that lucky team that managed to get through to the final and win it once. Or the team that only gets to the final every few years.
“We want to be here consistently and we want to be at the top of the table consistently.
“That’s the mentality that Emma [Hayes, Chelsea boss] has brought in and me and Chappers [Chelsea captain Katie Chapman] tried to bring that with us too from our time at Arsenal.”
Flaherty added: “When I came into the Arsenal team at 15, they had already built their history and I was playing alongside players who had already won so much. So I had that winning mentality from when I was young.
“That’s what we’ve had to change in the time that I’ve been here. We no longer accept finishing second from bottom or even conceding goals.
“Youngsters coming through at Chelsea know that now and hopefully we’ve started to change their mindset and they can continue that long after some of us older lot have retired.”
Flaherty helped Chelsea to Cup glory last season, when they edged Notts County 1-0 in the first Wembley final for their maiden piece of silverware.
It was the seventh time the England international had won the competition; the other six coming with Arsenal, including four in a row between 2006 and 2009.
The 24-year-old is one of the most decorated players in the Chelsea ranks but she believes last year’s taste of Wembley success will help the club’s younger players this time around.
She said: “It’s good to have that experience going into this game, especially for our youngsters.
“We’ve been there and done it so I don’t think the final or the stage will phase us. We sort of know what to expect in terms of the whole Cup Final day experience, so we can just focus on the game itself.
“We have to look at it as another game. Obviously it’s fantastic that it’s at Wembley and that our friends and family are going to be there, but ultimately it’s going to be about the team that does the business over 90 minutes.”
Although the romanticism of playing in a Cup Final at the home of football isn’t lost on Flaherty, she has urged her team-mates to not lose sight of their desire to retain the trophy.
Flaherty added: “For any footballer growing up, you dream of playing at Wembley in front of huge crowds, but for women’s football it has been a lot harder to achieve.
"It’s something we have to aspire to as a sport.
“As the years go on hopefully it will continue to grow. We are blessed that we are fortunate enough to play at Wembley – we just need to make sure we don’t let it phase us."
Thanks to The FA's partnership with SSE, all children will be able to attend this year's final for free while adult tickets are £15.
Tickets for the final are on sale via TheFA.com/Tickets or by calling 0844 826 2010.