Mercury Hampton

The world changed in 2020 as the coronavirus outbreak, previously classified as endemic to China, become a global pandemic. The last time the world had faced something like this was 102-years earlier – when the First World War was ending.

Things certainly changed for Michelle Davis. At the time she was a solicitor specialising in Wills and Probate Law. Fast forward to mid-2022 and she has left the legal profession behind to become a firefighter for Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service and is the captain of Warrington Wolves Women Rugby League club, who are currently riding high at the top of the Betfred Women’s Super League Group Two.

Quite the change, we think you’ll agree.

As sponsors of Michelle’s rugby league career, Mercury Hampton caught up with her to find out whether she misses being a solicitor, how she balances being a firefighter and a rugby player for one of the Northwest’s most prestigious clubs, and what advice she would give to anyone considering retraining for a new career.

MH: “So, Michelle; from solicitor to firefighter. That’s quite the change! Talk us through your thought process behind this.”

MD: “By 2020, I had been a solicitor specialising in Wills and Probate for a year, but I knew in my very first week in the office that it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life. This was despite having spent 7-years at university and earning the right qualifications to get there. I just instinctively knew that I’d chosen the wrong profession.”

MH: “How did you know?”

MD: “I’m a very physically active person, so being stuck at a desk all day was the first alarm bell that started ringing. Plus, I need to feel like I’m helping people (which is why I was a Special Constable for a while), but it made me realise that Wills and Probate just wasn’t scratching those itches.”

MH: “Did you have any idea what you wanted to do instead?”

MD: “I’d struck up a close relationship with Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service as they were kit sponsors for Warrington Wolves Women, and I started to make inquiries about potentially joining them as a trainee firefighter. Thankfully, they accepted me into the programme, I started training as a firefighter in December of 2021 and haven’t looked back since.”

MH: “Sounds like the stars just aligned for you?”

MD: “It wasn’t quite as plain sailing as I’m making out, and it wasn’t the first time I’d had to start again from scratch. Before playing for Warrington Wolves, I’d played for Wigan Warriors and won the Grand Final with them in 2017-2018. At the time, Wigan were in a higher conference than Warrington, but after one look at the facilities and set-up at Warrington, I knew it wouldn’t be long before they were in the top tier. I made the decision to leave that cup-winning Wigan side and join Warrington in 2018 to help them build on the potential that I knew they had. Sure enough, we were promoted, and I was made Captain in 2021.”

MH: “So, you like a challenge, then?! How on earth do you balance being a Firefighter and a Warrington Wolves rugby player?”

MD: “I won’t lie, it’s difficult sometimes, especially the times when I’ll have training in the morning and then have a nightshift at the station.”

MH: “Still, two wages coming in? It must be worth your while to keep juggling the two?”

MD: “Well, I don’t get paid for playing rugby. I do that for the love of the game and the amazing team that I’m part of.”

MH: “Wait, say that again: you don’t get paid for playing rugby?”  

MD: “No. Women rugby players are not contracted like the men’s game is, so when we take to the field it’s basically classed as a hobby.”

MH: “But you’re in the Super League – that’s crazy!”

MD: “That reaction isn’t uncommon. Lots of people think that we get paid but we don’t. I have no doubt that it will get there, just like women’s football has, but as it stands, we’re heavily reliant on sponsors and fundraising events to pay for things like the kit, transport, and medical supplies. Sponsorship like Mercury Hampton provides me with is the lifeblood of our game.”

MH: “We’re glad that we can help! So, what can people do to help support you and the team?”

MD: “Bums on seats! Increased attendance at games would make a huge difference, not only from a financial point of view but crowd encouragement has the power to change a game around. Tickets are only £5, juniors are £2, and it’s free if you’re a Warrington Wolves Men’s team season ticket holder. If you can’t make it down in person, then spreading the word on social media about what we do would be massively appreciated. We’re on Twitter with the handle @warrwolveswomen and the official Facebook page is Warrington Wolves Women’s Rugby League Team.”

MH: “You heard the lady; spread the word! We’re a recruitment company, so we have to ask this question: given the change in direction that your career has taken, what advice would you give to people thinking of doing the same?”

MD: “To absolutely go with their hearts and follow their dreams. I know that sounds cheesy and clichéd, but it’s so true. It didn’t matter to me that I’d studied for 7-years to get that solicitors job, it meant more to me to enjoy my job and to be able to help people. I left a job with great prospects and salary, started from scratch, and I’ve never been happier. It was the same with the rugby. I left a winning team and took a punt (no pun intended) on a team in a lower division and look where we are now.

I work with two incredible teams, both of whom I trust implicitly and, in the case of the firefighters, literally with my life. That’s not something I ever take for granted.

I’m so lucky to be doing what I love, and if you aren’t doing what you love then you should absolutely change that. I’m proof that if you put your mind to it, you can do anything.”

MH: “Michelle, it’s been great speaking with you today. We wish you the best of luck setting fires on the rugby pitch and putting them out off-field!”

MD: “Thanks so much for your time and your support. It’s been great to do your sponsorship justice and to bring a bit of positive attention to the team.”

Follow Michelle on Twitter: @M1chelleDavis

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