We Chat to Nottingham Forest’s Charlotte Greengrass After a Very Successful Season

Photos: Ami Ford
Interview: George White
Sunday 09 July 2023
reading time: min, words

Double winner and top scorer in the Premier League Northern Division: It’s safe to say Charlotte Greengrass made the right decision to ditch the West for the East Midlands in 2020, and to shift from centre-back to centre-forward just over twelve months ago. We chat to Nottingham Forest’s clinical finisher after a very successful season…

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To start with the obvious question, what attracted you to playing football in our city?
When I was released from Aston Villa in 2020, I was looking at my options and deciding whether to stay with a club in the Championship, or drop down a league [to the Premier League Northern Division]. I’d always followed Forest on their social media, so I knew what they were about. I had some conversations with Andy [Cook, Head Coach], and it became clear pretty quickly that that's where I wanted to be. Straight away, I could tell it was a good club with a good culture. It felt like a place where I could really start to enjoy football again, which was the most important thing for me - as that had been something I’d struggled with for a couple of years.

With Nottingham Forest now and Notts County Ladies in the 2010s, our city feels like it’s been a really good place to hone your craft for a while. Would you say that’s the case?
Definitely. I actually did my dissertation at university about women's football and experiences with sexism, and I interviewed a couple of girls from Forest. They had so many good things to say about the pathway that the city has for girls and women in football. As you say, I think Notts County started something here that inspired everyone to get involved and get behind the sport, and I think it’s only improved over time - especially since I came to the city. 

Sexism in football is still a major issue - you only have to look in the Facebook comments of a post about the women’s game to prove that… Is it something you’ve come across in your career so far, and if so, how do you deal with that?
I was motivated to explore the topic at university because of my own experiences. It's something that you get used to, which is unfortunate to have to say. It is hard that we have to deal with it day-to-day, but I think you develop your own mechanisms to overcome it. 

We're a very close-knit group at Forest; I wouldn't say that it ever infiltrates the group. You have to just keep yourself from looking at those comments, because we're aware that they're there, and sometimes you just have to laugh it off and remember that the game is growing at an exponential rate, and that things are constantly improving. You often see people defending you on social media now, which I think is really important, and more people are happy to be advocates for women's football - people aren't shying away from the conversation anymore, which is a big step. This issue comes up a lot in interviews and people want to have that conversation - I think that’s key.

Last year’s European Championships felt like a big moment, and at the centre of that was Nottingham’s own Mary Earps. Is it a good motivator to see players that have followed a similar path to you go on to have such incredible careers?
Absolutely - especially because Mary developed into the England squad at a later age. I'm only 23 now, so it does motivate me to think that there is a route there that I can follow, and to know that there's no single mould that fits every player’s career. I think it's just good that those opportunities are there, and it seems like a lot of players from different backgrounds are being represented at the highest level - it’s great to see. And it's definitely nice that we have that little piece of Forest in the England squad.

I've never really seen myself as a role model, but then you see the girls at our games, and they massively look up to us - it would be impossible to ignore that you are somebody's Mary Earps or Leah Williamson

Is it your hope to become an inspiration for the next generation of women’s footballers yourself?
It definitely does play on your mind. I try not to think too much about it, because I've never really seen myself as a role model in that sense. But then you see the girls at our games, and they massively look up to us. It would be impossible to ignore that and not appreciate that you are somebody's Mary Earps or somebody's Leah Williamson. It's nice that we have the opportunity to be that for young players.

You’ve certainly had a lot to be proud of this season - winning the FAWNL League Cup and the Premier League Northern Division. How’s it felt being a part of that journey?
It's been really nice seeing the accumulation of our hard work over my three seasons here. It's not always been this way - we've had some difficult times. So our success this term is a testament to our team, as well as the girls that don't play for us any more - they contributed massively by laying the groundwork for us to build on. Everything's just clicked into place. I look back on my years here so far and this marks the perfect ending to this chapter - as well as the start of an exciting new beginning, as we push to go one step further and secure promotion.

Things have not only clicked for the team overall, but for you personally - you’ve been scoring goals for fun. How have you made it happen?
I think this is the first time in a while that I've been fully fit all season, which has obviously helped! That was a big focus of mine at the start of the campaign: I wanted to be available for as many games as possible, especially because I'd finished the season quite strongly last year. I’d also moved into a new position up top, which gave me an extra drive from wanting to learn and evolve. Going from centre-half to centre-forward was a big change, but it also helped me focus a lot more on my game. 

I think I’d become a little comfortable as a defender, and as I changed position, I found myself thinking more about what impact I could have. Maybe I put a bit too much pressure on myself at the start of the season to get those goals, but as I shifted my mindset to focus on just performing and doing my individual bits for the team, it all started to come together. I'm really happy with how I've done and how I've been able to contribute to this season.

You’ve scored plenty of those goals in Eastwood, which has been the team’s home for a while now. Chelsea manager Emma Hayes often talks about how important it is that her side has a place to really make their own, to build into a bit of a fortress. Does that feel the same way for yourselves and the Halbrooke Stadium? 
You’re right, it has become something of a fortress for us. We’ve been getting such good numbers this year, and because it's quite a small ground, it allows for that connection with the fans. There have been games where we've really needed them, and - I know it’s cliche - they have been our twelfth player. When you're able to look fans in the eyes and you can properly hear them, it gives you such a lift. 

We’ve made it a really special place now. We've got a little shop, there are different food vans, and they set up a little fun zone for the kids - it's a really nice family occasion. And when we play, they’re right behind us. It'll be a difficult test for us next season; we’ll be pushing to finish the job and reach the Championship. So we want to get as many people at those games as we can, so we can get that extra boost that’s always massive for us as players.


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