Ellen White interview: Lionesses own the night – England striker out to fire it up once more

Photo: Notts County Ladies FC
Photo: Notts County Ladies FC

As the England women’s team get together for the annual Cyprus Cup, striker and new Notts County Ladies signing Ellen White can look forward to rekindling her favourite aspects of being on tour, including getting lost in a soundtrack that is always full of memories.

The 2014 FA Women’s Super League season is little over six weeks away and it will be the first year of competition for Notts County after their rebrand from Lincoln Ladies. Manager Rick Passmoor has been busy assembling a squad that he feels will challenge at the top of the division and he can certainly select from a number of renowned international names.

One of those is 24-year-old England striker Ellen White who decided in December to join up with her former Leeds Carnegie boss Passmoor after three successful years with Arsenal. Pre-season preparations have been taking place of late but for the moment the focus switches for Ellen as she and her international teammates get set to defend the Cyprus Cup after winning the 2013 edition.

Mark Sampson, who led Bristol Academy to 2nd place in the WSL last season, will be embarking on his first tournament as England manager and right-back Alex Scott revealed on here recently how he has implemented his preferred culture and ways of working. The former Swansea City Centre of Excellence manager is a great believer in taking the time to understand each player and their circumstances in their life outside football.

Ellen offers her own perspective of how the new man in charge has allowed the players to integrate in the early days under his stewardship.

“Mark’s been trying to make it similar to a club environment in trying to get everyone talking and getting on with each other. Little silly things like the jokes, the forfeits we do and giving each other piggybacks, it all makes a difference in getting us on the same page.
“Hopefully we can combine that fun environment with the right preparation to take us into a tournament. I’ve really enjoyed it so far and hopefully it will be the same for the Cyprus Cup.”

As well as allowing his players to feel comfortable when they are together, Sampson is undoubtedly adept at outlining the necessary tactics and providing the motivation to let his team thrive within the expressive style of play he endorses. The supposedly minor aspects outside of the game scenario all add up though, as Ellen said, and music is certainly in that bracket.

Alex Scott mentioned on here how Sampson lets music be played at all different times when the players gather. It varies from one group to another but as the interviews on here have shown, singing, dancing or even just listening to songs can help to really galvanise a national team. The same can apply at club level and former Arsenal player Jenny Beattie was another who explored that on this site.

Beattie now plays for Montpellier HSC in the Division 1 Féminine in France but when she was asked which of her career teammates she would choose to record a cover of a song with it was only Arsenal on her mind. She chose Kim Little, Steph Houghton and Ellen to sing One Direction ‘What Makes You Beautiful’.

When she was told this before answering the same question, Ellen was slightly disappointed she couldn’t go for the same track! She thought of an alternative though and it is a song that takes her back to a previous Lionesses get-together.

“I’m thinking Katy Perry ‘Firework’ with Steph Houghton and Claire Rafferty – reminiscent of when we were in South Korea (for the Peace Cup) a few years ago with England.”




Ellen, who comes from Aylesbury, joined Arsenal at eight years old and was part of the Gunners’ Centre of Excellence. She went on to play for Chelsea and Leeds before returning to her first club in 2010. The move to Notts County is an exciting one for Ellen and one of her new colleagues will be Canada midfielder Desiree Scott.

Scott is known throughout the women’s game for her combative play in the middle of the park but as the likes of FC Kansas City defender Leigh Ann Robinson have shared on here, she can also hold her own in the singing stakes. The ‘English accent’ is one area Ellen and a few of her counterparts can help ‘The Destroyer’ with and maybe she will bring her own flavour to the changing room speakers on match days.

Ellen describes the pre-game music with the team so far and a striker signed by Lincoln Ladies from Coventry City last year was the first up with the playlist.

“At Notts County, Courtney (Sweetman-Kirk) was the DJ when we had our first game. There were some good ones like TLC on there.
“Sophie Bradley and Sophie Walton were on the music last time and it was good. Like you say, Alex Scott is the main DJ at Arsenal and for England too.
“Jennifer Beattie (at Arsenal) always had really good tunes and she knew the ones I’d like which would get me up dancing. To be honest, I’m pretty much a geek when it comes to music.
“I like pop music like Katy Perry, and One Direction I’m sad to say! I like new stuff, rap and r&b like Drake, but I go back to pop.
“I’m not a massive fan of classical, and garage is probably the other I dislike.”


Photo: Ben Blyth
Photo: Ben Blyth


Having played for a boys’ team as a kid as well as going along to the ‘Mini Ducks’ academy her father ran, Ellen ultimately made it onto the biggest stage with her country. She scored on her debut against Austria in March 2010 and as England reached the 2011 World Cup quarter-final she made her impression on those watching.

Her wonderful right-footed lob over goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori in the group game with the tournament’s eventual winners Japan was a goal to relish and Ellen played the full game as Hope Powell’s team lost on penalties to France in the last eight.

The game had ended 1-1 before the shootout and England’s goalscorer was a midfielder who will be representing Manchester City WFC in the WSL this year. Ellen shares a bit of what she brings to the dressing room and also the tunes of a new Chelsea signing and her former teammate at Arsenal who doesn’t quite get the thumbs up!

“Jill Scott’s got pretty crazy music taste and she’s quite funny too – she’s always dancing and having a laugh. Gilly Flaherty’s got pretty shocking taste – old school / slow songs that make you want to go to sleep!”

In February 2010, Ellen scored twice for Leeds Carnegie as they beat Everton 3-1 at Rochdale’s Spotland ground to lift the FA Women’s Premier League Cup. Her new Notts County boss Rick Passmoor was in charge of Leeds that day and there were several of her current colleagues on her side too including Sophie Walton, Carly Telford, Katie Holtham and defender Sophie Bradley who was interviewed on here before Christmas.

Also in the line-up was an England international who frequently gets endorsed on this site by her teammates for her vocal ability. Ellen brings her up first, as well as highlighting the hidden talent of a certain Chelsea left-sider and fellow Lioness.

“Jess Clarke has a really good singing voice when she gets going. Also, Claire Rafferty has a pretty good voice too, although she won’t ever admit it!”

Voted by fans as the 2011 Vauxhall England Player of the Year, Ellen was the joint-top scorer with Finland’s Sanna Talonen at last year’s Cyprus Cup. She has enjoyed high points such as featuring in front of 70,584 at Wembley for Team GB as they beat Brazil in the 2012 Olympics and winning a treble (FA WSL, FA Women’s Cup, FA WSL Continental Cup) with Arsenal the year before.


Photo: Ben Blyth
Photo: Ben Blyth


She also scored in the Gunners’ 3-0 FA Women’s Cup final win against Bristol as well as in the 2-0 Continental Cup final success over Lincoln last year. Before all that though Ellen bought her first ever CD! Going back to some late-90s pop seems as good a place as any to leave our music talk.

“I think it was probably Britney Spears ‘Baby One More Time’!”

Ellen’s contract at Notts County is initially for three years and she will hopefully make her first appearance for the team against, of all clubs, Arsenal, in the season opener at Meadow Lane on Wednesday 16th April. She has 17 goals in 45 international appearances and is joined in the England squad for the Cyprus Cup by club teammates Sophie Bradley and Carly Telford.

The Lionesses get underway in the tournament against Italy in Larnaca on Wednesday 5th March before facing Finland on Friday 7th and their 2013 final opponents Canada on Monday 10th. The finals are all contested on Wednesday 12th and after that it is back to preparations for the WSL kick-off with Notts County for Ellen.

She scored twice in the 7-0 friendly win over Stoke City Ladies last Monday and as well as the aforementioned Canada star Desiree Scott she has the likes of W-League champions (with Melbourne Victory) Caitlin Friend and Katie Hoyle on her side from overseas. The early signs have all been extremely encouraging for Ellen and she explains how she has had a helping hand after moving her club football north to Nottingham.

“It’s really exciting and a new challenge for me. I’m based in St. Albans and I’ve been staying at my sister-in-law’s in Nottingham some nights so that breaks up the driving.
“I’m really enjoying it. My teammates have all been welcoming and as well as the banter I’ve seen how hard we’re all working.
“Rick (Passmoor) and Colin (Walker) have made training interesting and fun as well as hard work and I’ve come away from all the sessions thinking I enjoyed it and learned something.”

Although she is Ellen White at the moment, she will become Ellen Convery when she marries her fiancée Callum. Understandably, the planning process of the big day has been a sizeable proposition so far for Ellen and those involved.

“That’s been taking up a lot of time – dress shopping, florists etc. All the stuff you don’t have to think about until you’re actually in that situation.
“I’ve got two nieces as well so seeing them and my family back home is something I really love.”

Those who have bought a Notts County Ladies season ticket can look forward to seeing Ellen this season as she and her teammates bid to make it a successful first year for the club. All that remains for now is for her to take on the trickiest question of the lot.

Selecting from the best players she has worked with in her career up to now, Ellen was asked to pick a 5-a-side team (with herself as one of the five players). Here are the four she elected to name in the line-up alongside her.

“In goal it’s got to be Karen Bardsley, although Emma Byrne won’t be happy! She’s so funny and her limbs are so long that you think you’ve scored past her in training and she’ll just pull out an unbelievable save.
“She’s not bad with her feet either and I think in 5-a-side we could just lay her along the goal and no one would get past her!
“Kim Little in midfield. Technically, she’s an amazingly gifted player and a really good friend too.
“This is tough! For a defender I’ll go with Claire Rafferty.
“She’s coming back from an ACL injury so she’d be nice and fresh. She could get up and down the pitch and she’s a good leftie too.
“A striker – I’m going to go with Kelly Smith. With the ball at her feet she’s untouchable and before her injury she was unbelievable.
“She knows she can’t get up and down the pitch as much as she used to but with her vision she doesn’t need to. She’s definitely someone I looked up to.”

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