Women's football in the North East set to kick-on after huge success of Alnwick match

Women’s football in the North East has been given a huge boost with more than a little help from Alnwick Town Ladies.

Thursday, 5th May 2022, 9:08 am
Updated Thursday, 5th May 2022, 10:31 am

They played a full part in front of a record-breaking crowd of more than 22,000 watching Newcastle United Women play at St James’ Park for the first time.

And there is strong belief that the publicity it has generated will help women’s football kick on in Northumberland.

Alnwick Town Ladies manager Peter Hately said: “It’s massive for women’s football in the North East. There is no question the publicity from this match will encourage others to get into it.”

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Alnwick Town Ladies line up for the match at Newcastle United Women. Picture: John V Mason.

He admitted it was ‘a pretty surreal’ weekend as it became clear a bumper crowd was gathering, resulting in a 15-minute delay to kick-off to allow spectators queuing outside the stadium to be admitted.

Peter said: "I spent some time with the staff of Newcastle United throughout the week and we both hoped it might get a crowd of up to 10,000 but to get over 22,000 is just incredible for a fourth tier women’s match. We’re not talking WSL (Women’s Super League) here.”

Indeed the 22,134 gate for Sunday’s FA Women’s National League Division One North clash pulled in more spectators than the men’s Premier League fixture between Watford and Burnley a day earlier.

Although Alnwick went down to a 4-0 defeat, Peter was proud of the way his team handled the occasion.

Alnwick Town under 10 girls team members Izzy mole, Gracie-Mae Arkle, and Immy Rickaby met Newcastle United co-owner Amanda Staveley.

"It’ll be a day they remember for the rest of their lives,” he said.

“The whole day from start to finish was fantastic from being in the dressing rooms to walking out on the pitch to Local Hero and the unfurling of a huge banner at the Gallowgate End. Newcastle did a great job in promoting the game and treated us superbly.

"The result wasn’t what we wanted but I thought the girls handled the occasion very well. In the first half in particular we kept a good shape and even though we didn’t have a lot of possession we made it difficult for them.

"They have put Alnwick Town on the map, not just the ladies team but the whole football club.”

He has been involved with the team since it was formed in 2017 on the back of the club’s success in setting up several girls age group teams.

“This is our fifth season and we’ve seen the appetite for women’s football grow hugely in that time,” said Peter.

“We set up a ladies team so the girls had somewhere to carry on after finishing age group football.

"We’ve got lots of girls playing age group football now and the Foundation are doing lots of great work at Greensfield so participation levels are continuing to grow.”

Organisers of this summer’s Berwick’s Charities Cup are also hosting a mini-tournament for women’s teams for the first time, with Alnwick Town Ladies among the entrants.

Three of Alnwick Town’s under 10 girls team – Izzy mole, Gracie-Mae Arkle, and Immy Rickaby – were also lucky enough to have their names drawn from a hat to have the privilege to walk out with the ladies.

Alnwick Town Ladies round off their season at home to Bradford on Sunday at 2pm.