It is difficult not to wince slightly as Durham midfielder Lisa Robertson, without even taking a deep breath, recites her daily schedule with all the nonchalance of someone reeling off items from a shopping list.
On Sunday, Robertson’s Durham – fourth in the Women’s Championship, the second tier of women’s football – host Chelsea, third in the Women’s Super League, in the quarter-finals of the Women’s FA Cup and the 12-place gulf between the pair could barely, in Robertson’s opinion, be more cavernous.
Durham are not the lowest-ranked team remaining – that honour falls to Aston Villa, who will be visited by West Ham – but this is two-time winners Chelsea’s last chance of domestic silverware. Manchester United, a full-time outfit, are the other Championship side still in the competition, but as one of the only teams not affiliated with a men’s club, a Durham win would provide the shock of the round.
Not that Robertson, 26, has had much time to consider the possibility. She has, instead, spent the bulk of her week climbing stepladders, providing estimates and surveying colour charts. The owner of a thriving painting and decorating business, Scotland-born Robertson is still based in Edinburgh because “football’s never going to be something that I can make a living through”. Moving to Durham would, simply, be too risky.
“I get up about quarter to seven, leave about 20 past and go to work,” she explains. “I leave work at ten to four, drive to the train station, get the train just before five. It gets me into Durham just before seven. I train seven until 9.30, but I leave training about 20 past nine to get the last train home. I get back into Edinburgh about half 11 and then I get home just before midnight. Then do it again. That’s pretty much my routine. Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday.