Sydney FC's Ellyse Perry will take on her former Canberra United teammates for the first time this weekend. Photo: Getty Images
Canberra United was hurt when Ellyse Perry ''left them hanging'' by pulling out of the W-League finals last season, vice-captain Sally Shipard has revealed.
But when Perry, the dual international soccer and cricket star now playing for Sydney FC, comes up against her old team on Saturday, both parties insist there will be no hard feelings.
United coach Jitka Klimkova expressed her disappointment when Perry's international cricket duties kept her out of United's chase for the W-League title in January, and insisted Perry could not stay with the club this season if she couldn't give a full-time commitment.
Ellyse Perry pictured playing for Canberra United. Photo: Getty Images
While the ultimatum caused outrage among sports fans, the decision was one United's players understood.
''It did hurt, to have her available all season - and I have to say she's such an angel, she's a gorgeous girl, I would never say a bad word about her - it was just the fact she kind of left us hanging in quite an important part of the season,'' Shipard said.
When Perry chose to play cricket for Australia instead of in United's semi-final, it was the straw that cracked her arrangement with the club, after managing a hectic schedule involving a weekly commute from Sydney.
''It worked quite well for the season and then we got to finals and 'Pez' was unavailable,'' Shipard said.
''So we then didn't have a player that was necessarily in-form to fill her position, or who'd had the game time in order to build their confidence to be in that position.''
While United lost Perry's extraordinary talent, the split has turned out to have benefits for both sides.
It has allowed Canberra to move to the professional set-up Klimkova is striving for and eased Perry's hectic schedule.
''I think being based solely in Sydney has been a really great move for me,'' Perry told The Canberra Times.
''From a feasibility point of view and just making things a little bit more convenient and easier, not only for myself, but also the teams I'm a part of … I really, really loved my time in Canberra for the three seasons I was there, I still think it's a wonderful club.
''They're the leaders in the W-League, the way they're able to create so much support and community spirit around the side is absolutely wonderful and I'm really proud to have been a part of that.
''But obviously, such is the nature of sport, things change. There's new challenges and endeavours you take on and for me that's playing for Sydney now.''
While Perry hasn't seen many of her old teammates since leaving, neither her nor the United players are giving their encounter much thought beyond the three points on offer.
''Naturally it would cross your mind, but we have no bitter and twisted thoughts towards Pez at all, it's just a matter of how it worked out this season,'' Shipard said. ''I look forward to seeing the girl. She's had a bit of trouble with her hamstring, so hopefully she's out there playing. It will be an interesting battle, but that's because we're playing Sydney, not just because we're playing Pez.''