|PHOTO: LFC LADIES|
Notable highlights that just about missed out on the top five:
The relentless pursuit of Natasha Harding on Twitter; being convinced several times over that the Welsh wonder had signed for the Reds before being handed a Wales shirt by the woman herself as an apology for, “I’m always winding you up saying I’m signing for Liverpool”. By this point convinced that Tash would never sign for Liverpool, just nine months later reading a press release from the club confirming that the winger had signed for the Reds from Manchester City. I always knew it… honest.
Recognition for the blog from the players, I’m not one to toot my own horn – this a pun I’m hoping many regulars at the Select Stadium recognise – but in the four years since beginning my blog I’ve been lucky enough to receive signed boots from Whitney Engen, Kate Longhurst and Natasha Dowie and worn shirts from Fara Williams and Lucy Staniforth. Each a surprise and each a more than appreciated gesture. Further to this, despite not being shortlisted for the awards, a number of players – and of course followers of the blog – tweeted in support of @LFCladiesfans at the 2016 Football Blog Awards and for that I was more than grateful.
Writing for The Anfield Wrap and appearing on their podcasts alongside Scott Rogers, Vick Jepson and Danielle Gibbons and also featuring in a live show with Kate Longhurst and Libby Stout.
This may seem like an obvious point, however four years ago today Liverpool Ladies took on Everton in the Continental Cup. Four years ago today I got home from work, watched the derby on an online stream and then had no one to talk to about the game afterwards. Four years ago I decided to start a Twitter account/ blog to make sure I had someone to talk to about the games afterwards – I’ve certainly found that and more!
|My article published in LFC magazine ahead of the 2016 season|
For all the social media accounts that supported and promoted Liverpool Football Club none had the specific angle of promoting Liverpool Ladies and so I created my own.
Admittedly @LFCladiesfans was then founded under a limited knowledge. I’d watched the Red women on a number of occasions previously but never with a serious understanding of the players involved, the league or indeed the history of the women’s game.
The Twitter account grew to 100+ followers within the first week and this was when I realised more people than just me wanted to know more about this team, it was a quick learning curve for me and still the women’s game, leagues and teams are something I am constantly wanting to learn from and about.
Across social media platforms since 2013 @LFCladiesfans has grown to an audience of over 8,000 followers (EIGHT THOUSAND!) and has been featured by LFC magazine and matchday programme, The Anfield Wrap, SheKicks magazine, This Is Anfield, Anfield Index, WWF Show, Daily Star newspaper, Premier Inn hotels and Empire of the Kop.
In four years of LFCladiesfans, the blog has reported on four title winning sides – one league title per year!
|LFC Ladies Development Squad 2014/15|
The Development Squad managed by Matty Campbell and Vick Jepson in 2014/15 started the season strongly before losing a couple of key players in the middle of the campaign and suffering a dip in form – the 12-game unbeaten run disrupted by a run of three defeats and a draw.
The team were then supplemented by players from the U17s, joined by a couple of new additions from Manchester United and embarked on another unbeaten run of five games to claim the league title. The victory made all the more sweeter as the the title was clinched during a 4-1 win over Merseyside rivals Everton Ladies.
Later that year another youth side at the club began a successful league campaign; The U17s, coached by Andy Newland and Charlotte Healy, lifted their first title beating Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers to the honour for the first time.
The young Reds, assisted by Niamh Charles and a number of other soon to be familiar faces, raced into a lead at the top of the table and enjoyed memorable wins over Everton (4-3 and 2-0), United (2-1) and Blackburn (4-1).
During the Spring Series first team boss Scott Rogers has spoke of how he wants to use the game to integrate the youth into the first team, there is certainly a lot of talent at the club and, as the current U16s close in on another league title, the future for Liverpool Ladies is bright.
As well as Sweden and Italy, the blog has taken me further afield. In 2015 and as part of my University degree I secured a summer work placement with Boston Breakers in the NWSL, I was devastated when this fell through due to paperwork. However with a Uni module still to complete and a bit of money saved up I decided to go out on my own to Canada and cover the Women’s World Cup through my blog.
Basing myself in Montreal and watching as Liverpool’s Fara Williams was crowned Player of the Match in England’s 2-1 win over Colombia, I also caught, arguably, the game of the tournament as Germany knocked France out in the quarter finals and the semi final between eventual winners USA and Germany.
Meeting up with a couple of friends over there, we travelled down the coast to Toronto and Niagara Falls and also stayed in Ottawa as England beat Norway 2-1 with a cracker of a goal from Lucy Bronze.
While in Canada I met up with Damian who follows my blog and after travelling down to New York also met up with Chrissie who follows LFCladiesfans from there!
|With Yasmine & Liv at Fylde Ladies FC|
Since Canada I’ve started a section on the blog called X-Reds where I follow ex-Liverpool players to their new clubs and report on the game, this has so far taken me to Boston to see Matt Beard, Louise Schillgard, Libby Stout and Natasha Dowie, Chicago to support Amanda DaCosta, Sunderland to watch Lucy Staniforth and – my favourite – Fylde to see Yasmine Swarbrick and Livi Wild turn out for the Coasters.
With plans to attend the Euros in the Netherlands this summer, this part of the blog will continue to grow and feature even more X-Reds!
How could number one be anything but watching Liverpool Ladies lift that first league title in 2013.
Laws; Bronze, Bonner (C), Engen, Schroder; Omarsdottir, Williams, Rolser, DaCosta, Fors; Dowie
What an 11!
Watching the Reds lift that first league title, taking the crown from holders Arsenal and including an excellent win over the Gunners at the Emirates (4-nil!) and a Natasha Dowie hat-trick over Everton!
League title number two of course deserves an honourable mention here, the manner in which the trophy was lifted taking at least 10 years off my life expectancy – there are images of me sitting on the floor of the Select Stadium during the final 10 minutes of the win over Bristol floating about.
A special thank you goes out to everyone that has followed LFCladiesfans, whether from the start or just last week. I love every minute of following and supporting Liverpool Ladies and to have been able to maintain this blog for four years now is a testament to those who follow and read it!
Derby Day in Freezing Fylde
In this edition of X-Reds I’m taking you back to, a slightly warmer, Fylde. If you’re not aware of the ambitions of Fylde you can read the introduction to the previous piece linked above, to summarise however: Fylde F.C are a team with big aspirations.
The men’s side have targeted 2022 for promotion to the football league, while the women, who previously played under the Preston name, also target the Women’s Super League.
An impressive stadium will soon be accompanied with facilities that will provide the women’s team with a training base – they currently train at Accrington Stanley.
|Fylde Ladies F.C. vs Nottingham Forest Ladies|
Since the previous blog at the start of October, ex-Liverpool coach Luke Swindlehurst has left the club to be replaced by former Manchester City Development manager Conrad Prendergast.
The new boss was appointed head coach at the start of the year and has overseen a defeat to top-of-the-league Blackburn Rovers and a draw away at Huddersfield. Here he took charge of his first home game and was rewarded with a 1-0 victory over Nottingham Forest at Mill Farm.
In Conrad’s programme notes he commends his new side’s battling desire and work ethic, praising the team’s defensive efforts despite the results and explaining how they now need to bring together the qualities of posing an attacking threat while remaining defensively sound.
Former Red Olivia Wild made her Fylde debut – making a welcome return from a four month injury lay off – as the Coasters produced exactly what the new manager had asked for. Wild grew into the game; her strength and ability to drive the ball forward particularly evident during the second half of the game and on several occasions drawing applause from the crowd.
|Olivia Wild (L) and Yasmine Swarbrick (R) in action for Fylde Ladies F.C.|
One play late in the game saw Wild win the ball from a Forest goal kick, head it down to the feet of Chloe Adams and make the run down the right wing to receive the ball back from Adams – the final cross well held onto by the Forest goalkeeper.
Wild had also played her part in the opening goal in the first half, winning a throw-in on the far side that led to a cross allowing Laura Walker to send the ball into the back of the net following a scramble at the edge of the 6-yard box.
At the other end of the pitch another former Red was leading the attack, Yasmine Swarbrick an imposing presence up front, pressuring and chasing every ball, holding play up brilliantly as the lone striker while also helping out at the back – in the first half heading clear a Forest corner and then racing out, receiving the ball back and almost finding her team mate with an excellent through ball only for the ‘keeper to be quick off her line to gather.
Swarbrick was twice denied by the woodwork as well, rising to power a superb header against the post after a set piece and then rattling the crossbar with another headed effort just minutes later.
The forward continued to be instrumental in attack, providing goal scorer Walker with an opportunity to score another with a deft backheel and also racing onto a great ball forward from Olivia Wilkes – crashing into the onrushing ‘keeper in a 50-50 collision.
A mention should also go to Coasters captain Charlotte Farrell, who incidentally hadn’t played since the aforementioned derby against Blackburn in October due to injury, making a return at centre back and marking it with a series of crunching tackles as if she’d never been away.
At my last trip to Fylde I noted the admirable commitment of the players and staff in the Women’s Premier League and that dedication continues to impress, hopefully the Women’s Super League reverting to a winter schedule and aligning itself with the WPL will benefit the league and provide more opportunities.
Fylde Ladies are making great strides in the women’s game and a continuation of this can only benefit all involved.
Go and support Yasmine, Liv and Fylde at their remaining WPL fixtures of the 2016/17 season: Fixture list.