Lifelong Fulham fan Mary Southgate said it was ‘very special’ to lead Fulham Women out to play their first fixture at Craven Cottage in more than two decades.

Skipper Southgate, a season ticket holder in the Hammersmith End, has already breezed past a century of appearances for the Whites but – speaking to HammyEnd following the defeat by AFC Wimbledon yesterday – she described the experience of playing at the Cottage as comfortably the best of her career so far.

“I’m here all the time as a season ticket holder and to come and lead the team out was just incredible. The build up to it and just being here and having this opportunity is the biggest football moment I’ve ever, ever had. I’m so grateful that we’ve had it. It was very special. Hearing the music, walking out, seeing my friends and family in the crowd, was very special.

The women’s game is growing massively all the time and we’re happy to be involved in that. Playing here in front of more than 3,000 people was so special. I was just speaking to lots of families and children after the final whistle and, despite the score, they were all really happy, they were buzzing and they were so supportive. We’ve obviously helped them have a nice day and enjoy some football.”

The composed centre back picked out plenty of positives despite the disappointment of exiting the Capital Cup at the second round stage.

“Hopefully, people who’ve been here will come and support us at some more of our other home games. We pushed [AFC Wimbledon] all the way, we had chances and we got shots off on goal. The noise when Georgia scored was insane. I will remember that for ever and I think she should. It was a big moment – lots of people singing, making so much noise. There were obviously a few mistakes from us for their goals but they are a good team, pushing for promotion, so we knew it was going to be a challenge. There’s lots of positives to take – and now we focus on the league campaign.”