Lily Agg: A Lioness from the very start
Lily Agg has been with London City Lionesses since the club started in 2019 and says it is time for the club to be in the WSL.
28-year-old midfielder Lily Agg has been with London City Lionesses since the very beginning.
In 2019 it was set up as a breakaway club from Millwall Lionesses.
Last season they came very close to promotion to the WSL.
And Lily has been there every step of the way.
Along the way she has become an Irish international.
Born in Brighton, Lily told former London City Lionesses manager Lisa Fallon, from Dublin, about her Cork roots.
Lisa would pass that information on to Republic of Ireland manager Vera Pauw who would draft her into her team.
Lily would make her debut in June and even score on her first time out.
Now Lily and her fellow Lionesses are kicking off another season in the Women’s Championship and, having come so close to promotion last time, they are determined to finish the job this time around.
Lily told The Irish World: “I think it’s exciting to have been a part of it from the beginning and I think it makes you very grateful and appreciate where the club is at.
“There’s been massive strides made by the club every year.
Last season the club finished second to Liverpool who would be promoted to the WSL as champions although few fancied the Lionesses to be Liverpool’s closest challengers.
“We were never going to be favourites to win the league when you’ve got teams like Liverpool but I think we’ve done such a good job to finish second.
“We were gutted that we didn’t win the league.
“Heading into this year, we’ve grown again.
“If anything, we’re still underdogs.
“I think there’s a few people out there who think we kind of got lucky last year but we’re hoping to prove just what a good team we are.
“I think we’re one of the only teams that took four points off Liverpool.
“It shows we can compete with the teams that essentially are ‘better’ than us.
“But even in our Conti Cup games, we got drawn all WSL teams.
“And once again, I think we gave a really good show of ourselves in terms of the results, and also the performances.
“So we’re more than capable to play at that level.
“Hopefully this year we will showcase that again.”
It was former London City Lioness Lisa Fallon who was interested to find out about Lily’s Irish family.
“I think she just said, ‘Do you have any kind of Irish blood?’
“And I was like, ‘Yeah, on my grandma’s side’.
“And then I think she then worked her magic and luckily got the message across that I can represent Ireland. And here we are.”
Lily has family in Cork and growing up would visit her grandmother in the Cobh area.
“My mum was born there and then came over to England.
“She was a nurse, trainee nurse following in my grandma’s footsteps.
“So grandma came over to England, mum then done the same thing and so we then grew up over here.”
Lily would have to wait to make her debut first because of a passport issue and then due to injury but she would make her international debut against Philippines in June and score the only goal of the game. It was a dream debut for her.
“It’s been amazing, a bit surreal really when I think of the last year and then finally making my debut and scoring.
“I kind of pinch myself.
“It’s amazing, my family are very proud.
“It’s something that really does mean a lot to me.
“All I can do now is keep trying to work hard and hopefully get called up for upcoming camps.”
Vera Pauw’s team are currently second in their qualifying group.
They now go into two matches against Finland and Slovakia hoping to secure a play- off.
Like her London City Lionesses team mate Hayley Nolan, Lily has made the squad for the all important games.
“It’s two massive upcoming games, which hopefully I can be a part of.”
Much like the job her compatriot Sarina Wiegman has done with England, Vera Pauw has brought a new belief and culture to the Republic of Ireland team.
“Especially with things that have happened recently with Vera, I think it shows a lot about her as a person and her strength and her courage and also how she kind of wears her heart on her sleeve within the team.
“Girls really respect Vera and I think it’s shown in the progress of the team over the last few years.
“The girls at Ireland made me feel so welcome since being there.
“They’re not only great footballers, they’re great people.
“It’s great to be a part of it.”
Republic of Ireland just missed out on this year’s European Championships with defeat to Ukraine seeing them miss out in their second last game seeing them miss out.
“The girls were so gutted to have missed out on the euros.
“World Cup qualification is something everyone’s really pushing towards.
“I know everyone’s really focused. Everyone’s so determined to get there.
“Tournament football is something the team is definitely, definitely hoping to reach and I don’t think it will be too long.”
Of course Lily was watching the recent tournament and has been overwhelmed to see the effect England’s win has had on the sport.
“I think the message from the tournament is, women’s football is powerful and it can grow and it’s about understanding what it needs to get there.
“I think more and more people are watching and appreciating the women’s game.
“I went to watch a few of the games and to see such a mix of people- You’ve got men there, daughters, little boys, elderly people- You name it, it’s just great entertainment for everyone.”
Lily would start her career with her home town club of Brighton before her successful trial with Arsenal’s legendary academy.
Lily’s mother used to say she ‘should have been a boy’ because she wanted to play football but Lily sees the game becoming more and more accessible now for women.
“I think there was even drama between commentators last night because he (Graeme Souness) said ‘it’s a man’s game’, the thing is football is football.
“I think that’s what we have to understand. Whether you’re a boy, girl, man: If you want to play football, it’s accessible for everyone.
“I used to say things like, ‘I wish I was a boy’ because there was no job available for a woman footballer.
“The good thing now is that is available.
“You just say, ‘I want to be a footballer’.”
From Arsenal, Lily would go on to play at clubs like London Bees, Millwall Lionesses, Cardiff Met, Frankfurt, Bristol City and Charlton.
But she was also working as a PE teacher.
“I joke now that I wish I was a good ten years younger because now is the time things are coming together and it’s brilliant.
“I remember trialling for Arsenal and Chelsea and at the time got into both. It was a bit of a tough decision because I support Chelsea but at the time, Arsenal women were the best in the country and it was an absolute dream.
“Hardly anyone ever made it into their academy and it was such an opportunity and I had some great years there playing with players such as Kelly Smith, Rachel Yankee.
“I have really good memories of Emma Byrne, Yvonne (Tracy), Ciara (Grant).
“But I then went to university. I went to Brighton Uni to become a teacher because back then, even though it’s not hundreds of years ago, you didn’t get paid so I knew I needed a career alongside that.”
Lily played underage for England even captaining them at Under 15 level.
Along the way she played with European champion Lioness Nikita Parris and Jordan Nobbs who missed the tournament through injury.
Back to the job in hand, Lily knows that promotion is not going to be easy.
“It’s not going to be an easy ride, that’s for sure.
“We’re going to have to really fight every single game.”
Are they a team of fighters? “Yeah, we’ve got good characters. We’ve got people that are willing to put their bodies on the line, that are going to go to battle every single game and fingers crossed we come up with victories.”