The 2016 season has always been something of a line in the sand for Durham.
After two years of growing into the second tier of women’s football, it was in 2016 when the Wildcats really started to turn some heads.
The club’s long-serving players such as Beth Hepple, Ellie Christon and Sarah Wilson continued to grow and improve and were backed-up by fresh recruits in the form of Sarah Robson, Becky Salicki, Megan Borthwick and more.
And then, midway through the campaign, came Emily Roberts.
She hit the ground running quickly, playing a key role in a 3-0 win over Aston Villa on her debut and contributing several key goals as the club sealed a then-record fourth place finish in FA WSL 2.
The winger was fresh off a promotion with Doncaster Belles but had endured a tricky few months after leaving the Keepmoat Stadium.
She came to Durham looking to reignite her love for the game, and 100 games on it’s safe to say that has been accomplished.
The forward became the latest player to hit the major appearance landmark in last weekend’s game at Crystal Palace – five years on from her arrival.
“I can’t get over how quick it’s gone, to be honest,” admits Roberts.
“I’m really pleased to hit 100 and there were times when I wasn’t sure I’d make it with the injuries I’ve had over the past few years.
“But I’m really, really pleased to get there.”
“Before I came here I’d moved around a bit, so it was nice to finally come somewhere and actually feel quite comfortable.
“Everyone was so welcome and I was able to enjoy myself and play football.
“It’s been a really good club for me and I’ve enjoyed every minute.”
Like many of the other players involved with the club, there has been some sacrifice involved for Roberts.
Currently located in Leeds, there is plenty of travelling for the winger in order to attend training – but it’s something she doesn’t view as a chore.
“It is a lot of time spent travelling, but you wouldn’t do it if you didn’t enjoy it,” she said.
“It’s been nice to do it, because I love playing for the club and I’ve enjoyed my football since being here.”
Having joined the Wildcats five years ago, Roberts has seen the club progress into major promotion contenders who have defied the odds at every turn.
It’s something that fills her with plenty of proud.
“I can’t get over how far the club has come, to be honest,” she said.
“We’ve always put up a fight and then the last few years we’ve been pushing for promotion.
“We’ve come such a long way and it’s been great to be a part of that.”
So which games stand out as the most memorable ones of Roberts’ stint at Maiden Castle?
“Obviously when we beat Manchester United, that was really good for the club.
“For me personally, one of my favourite games was Liverpool last season and scoring against them. That was a great game.”
That victory over the Reds is one of the biggest triumphs of the club’s history – only soured by the fact that fans could not be in attendance.
Roberts and Molly Sharpe fired the Wildcats to victory and, while thousands watched on streams, one can only imagine the atmosphere that would have filled Maiden Castle.
A busy Maiden Castle is becoming a more regular sight, and it’s something the winger is appreciative of.
“The fans have always been brilliant,” said Roberts.
“They’ve been so lovely towards me and all the girls and it really wouldn’t be Durham without them.
“We had people travelling to Crystal Palace recently, what a commitment that is.
“We really do have such great fans.”
Roberts’ 100th game may not have ended in the desired fashion, but regardless of any result the winger’s pride at being part of the club will not fade.
“I’m really proud and it’s such a good club to play for.
“All the girls are lovely and it’s great to be part of such a good team.
“Everyone puts 100 per cent into every game and fights for each other and it’s nice to be a part of that.”