Kerry Almond returns to Thunder
Announcing her retirement in 2019, no-one imagined that Kerry Almond would be back in a yellow and black dress again, fortunately, this was short lived as Almond was swiftly drafted due to the late withdrawal of Loreen Ngwira ahead of the 2021 season.
37-year-old Almond started her journey at Manchester Thunder in 2008 and has featured in all four Manchester Thunder Netball Super League title campaigns. After another two incredible seasons post-retirement, Almond remains a strong and key player within the Manchester Thunder squad, and Thunder welcome her back to their 2024 squad to bring experience and first-class defending back into the team.
Recalling the past season, Almond said, “The 2023 season is a bit of a tricky one for me because I spent most of my time on the side-line, but I really enjoyed the Loughborough home game, which was our first home game of the season. The atmosphere was incredible, and it was great to be back out in front of the fans. I also loved playing finals netball, always an enjoyment. Even though we lost the semi-final, it is always great to be in the final four.”
“Shadine [van der Merwe] and I already had a connection from the season before, so it’s always fun playing with her. It was great learning how to play with Ella [Bowen] as she’s got a different style to most other goal defences, she is an absolute firecracker to play with. Training with Josie [Huckle] was having another loud person there and she was really fun to have around. And having Emma [Dovey] back, what more could you ask for. She’s someone who I’ve played with for eleven seasons, and it was brilliant to have her back in the squad and re-build that connection which came straight back thankfully.”
“I absolutely hated watching from the side-lines due to injury. It was really hard work, and there were times through the season where it was really difficult for me both mentally and physically. There were a few breakdowns at training and out of training, and a couple of times where it was hard driving home. However, we got through it with the support of my teammates, my coaches, and everyone else around the sports staff, and as difficult as it was, I think it will put me in a better place for this coming season.”
“I could never have imagined that when I started in 2008 that I would still be playing sixteen years later. The Thunder fans, when you’re out on court, they are truly your eighth player. I know it sounds like a total cliché, but they actually are. Belle Vue is the loudest place that I know I have played in [Netball] Super League, and they really just get you over the line in those tough games, and when you are winning by a fair margin, they are always there to push you on to get more. They never let you rest, which is a really good thing, and I can’t wait to have that again this season with bigger and better crowds.”
When discussing the upcoming 2024 season, Almond said, “I definitely have unfinished business. We have a title to win back, and that is something that is always our aim and definitely my aim. It is always just making sure that I have something to offer, and I do still think there is something that I can bring to this team, and I’m really excited to get back out there with our new squad and build those connections with the new players that we have in there. It’s a really exciting prospect with what we’ve got, and I can’t wait to get started. Having Laura Malcolm back as one of our coaches is amazing and I’m looking forward to seeing what she can bring to our team and the extra dynamic that she can offer.”
Karen Greig Head Coach and Franchise Director, said, “Kerry is a stalwart to Manchester Thunder and I’m so happy she decided to sign for another year. I really don’t think there is any way we can keep her away from the court, and after a frustrating 2023 season, Kerry is determined to get back out on court and show she is still one of the league’s best Goal Keepers. Her experience shines through both on and off the court and she is a valuable asset to us. I am excited to see how our defence unit performs this season with the exciting players we have pulled together.”