Carrying on from my article about the Women’s Super League, I thought it was about time to write another one about Newcastle United Women’s football club.
I got in contact with the club over Twitter asking to do an interview which they happily agreed to do. I subsequently had a phone conversation with the Chairman, Phil Eadon. He is a very lovely guy who answered all my questions about the club and Women’s football in general.
It’s this kind of approach that is endearing about the Ladies game. There are no egos and there is a much more ‘down to earth’ feeling about things. Could you imagine Derek Llambias courting a phone conversation with me? Neither can I. Anyway, here is what Mr Eadon had to say.
Can you give me some background about the club?
The club has been around for twenty years and formed in 1989 with our main rivals being Cowgate Kestrels. Four years ago an agreement was reached with the directors of Newcastle United for the women’s team to use the name Newcastle United Women’s Football Club.
What league do the Women play in?
The team currently play in the Northern Women’s Combination League. We lost the first two games against Bradford and Liverpool. However the team have won their last four games and are currently 6th with a total of 12 points. The game against Middlesbrough could see us go second in the league.
What are the aims for this season?
The aim is to consolidate the side and rebuild our youth programme. We want to make sure that the players who are playing for us are enjoying playing football. We would also like to avoid injuries as last year we lost several key players. To bounce back up to the Women’s Player League straight away would be another aim for this season.
Are the derby matches fiery affairs or are they generally great games?
The derby games we play are competitive, full of commitment and passion. I don’t see them being as dirty at all. Unfortunately we won’t have the opportunity to play Sunderland since we were relegated from the Premier League but we have derbies against Middlesbrough and South Durham which can be very competitive.
When we played Sunderland in a Derby match they were very competitive matches. A lot of the players have grown up together, played in school and county teams and even playing for Sunderland and Newcastle. Once the teams are across the line the games are very competitive.
What has been the most memorable game for Newcastle United Women’s team?
One of them has to be when the team made it all the way to the FA Umbro Fives tournament down at Wembley. The team actually won the tournament and it was great to see ‘Newcastle United’ on the screens and with a piece of silverware as it has been a long time since the men have won anything!
From winning that the club did allow us to come out onto the pitch at half-time in the Birmingham match and parade the cup we had won at the tournament. There was a fantastic reception from the crowd and that was amazing for the team to hear and see the support they got from the fans.
The other memorable game has to be when we reached the Quarter finals of the FA Cup vs Everton in 2009. Great for the team to get so far in the cup competition.
We have some fans in America who have commented about the Women’s game and how big it is there. What do you think to this?
They aren’t marketing the game; the appeal involved over there is for the love of women’s soccer. At the end of the day it is about having fun and not portraying them as butch male players. Americans sell them as athlete’s who are able to provide a good standard of football. This is want we want to achieve, we have set up donations on our website to help us buy our kit as we have to do that ourselves. The donations go a great way to helping the team out.
Does being a separate entity to the men’s team hinder you?
The entity can be a double-edged sword. Very few clubs actually contribute to their ladies team. All ladies who play for the team are Newcastle fans, born and bred in the area. They feel very privileged and proud of being about the team and understand the importance of playing in a black and white shirt.
Do you think the women’s game has grown a lot in the last couple of year?
The game is growing but there are a lot of challenges at the moment. Financial constraints is one of these, not all clubs contribute to their women’s team. It has to be treated seriously in the way that we promote the game. We want to encourage girls who support Newcastle to look up to Women’s players instead of a bearded male footballer.
If you asked all the supporters who support Newcastle United about Newcastle Women’s I would think only 10% would have heard of us. We don’t want to convert them as some male supporter would not want to go to a women’s game at all, it’s far better to attract girls who are of an age that are playing in women’s football.
There’s also the fact that the both centre of excellences have been cut in Sunderland and Newcastle which stops some players from getting into the ladies team. We have seven and eight graduates from our centre of excellence and it’s a shame these have been cut. There is a lot of passion for football here and Sunderland’s disappointment of not getting into the Women’s Super League is further evidence of the constraints that are with women’s football.
We are not sure what is going to happen with bringing players through in the North East. We are very keen to support the growth and development of women’s football nationally and especially in the North-East.
I would like to say a huge thanks to Rob Eadon for taking the time to be a part of this interview. It was great to find out more about Newcastle United Women’s Football Club. The club are on twitter so why not give them a follow to keep an eye on how their season goes? You can follow them @NUWFC.
Even better still, why not go and check it out yourself? It’s abundantly clear that they would value your support!