The NWSL Is Close To Returning...

 


We are edging closer and closer to the return of the NWSL however, there will be a Challenge Cup tournament before the start of the  regular season. It is nice to see another competition introduced in the States as when you look around the world the majority of leagues have multiple competitions played throughout the year where as with the NWSL it was the regular season and that is it. However, after the Challenge Cup replaced the regular season last year due to the pandemic it looks like the league are adding it to upcoming years, or at least just this year which means players are getting much more game time and fans get to see more from their favourite players. I think this could really end up benefiting the league as I think more games and an extra tournament could also bring in a lot more fans especially International ones. 

The players reported for preseason back on February 1st ready for the preseason fixtures and the start of the Challenge Cup on April 9th. It is going to be nice having the Cup played before the season starts as it is a chance for players to get back into the swing of things after some have had a year out due to injuries and the pandemic. It will also give the managers a chance to see what they are working with for the upcoming season and if any areas need improvement or strengthening. 

Following the completion of the Challenge Cup the 10 NWSL teams will then compete in the regular season which start on May 15th and will consist of 24 games so it should be a nice long season and added with the Challenge Cup fixtures fans are in for plenty of opportunities to see their favourite teams. What I like most about this season though is that there isn't going to be a break for the Olympics if it goes ahead. I like the fact there isn't going to be a break as it should mean that a lot of younger fringe players get the chance to make their mark on the season and make a name for themselves which they might not have got if the bigger names didn't have to leave for the tournament. 

The regular season is due to end on October 30th 2021 so a little later than in previous years with six teams qualifying for an extended playoff that is due to begin on November 6th. The top two seeds with receive a first round bye for this and the season will end on November 20th with the Championship. This is definitely ending later than it usually would but with the pandemic I think this is the best way to ensure the league still goes ahead. 

Once the season is over it is a case of jumping straight into planning for the leagues 10th season in 2022. There will be an expansion draft held on December 16th which will feature Angel City FC and Sacramento. I am really interested to see how this draft goes as for years there have been fan theories floating around in regards to which players will end up at these teams due to the location so it is going to be good to see if any of them are true or not. To be honest though I am more excited to see the league expanding to 12 teams as I think it is going to make the league more competitive and introduce some great new talents to the competition. 

 What I am really interested to see this season is how teams perform without some of the big name players that have gone abroad since the last regular NWSL season. With the likes of Tobin Heath, Christen Press, Sam Mewis, Abby Dahlkemper, Hayley Raso, Alanna Kennedy and Rose Lavelle to name just a few players all now playing in the UK in the WSL there is a whole load of talent that have left the NWSL and gone on to new challenges. This has left teams with big roles to fill and there has also been a lot of movement within the NWSL with big names switching teams so it will definitely be an interesting season which is potentially a lot more competitive. 

It is sure to be a good year for the NWSL with the Challenge Cup and the regular season with most of 2021 filled with games, I just can't wait for it to all kick off on April 9th, fingers crossed a lot of games are at reasonable times for the international fans too so I can catch as much of the action as possible. I am looking forward to bringing you plenty of NWSL content throughout the year so keep an eye out for plenty more posts coming soon. 

Updated Shirt Collection At The Start Of 2021

Since my last football shirt collection posts it is safe to say I have purchased or received a few more shirts than I expected. Some I have purchased myself, some I have received as gifts and others have been giving to me my mum from her collection. There is definitely a nice mixture of clubs and a few national team shirts within this post and to be honest it is nice to see how much of a mix there is. So here are the shirts I have picked up since my previous post...


Liam got me this long sleeved Rangers 2019/20 shirt for Christmas and I absolutely love it. This is actually my first long sleeved shirt and what a start with my first Rangers shirt. I have wanted a Rangers shirt for a long time now and this one ticks all the boxes, it is such a simple shirt but I love it, the quality is brilliant too.


For Christmas my parents got me this Score Draw 1982 England shirt. I don't know what it is about this shirt but it is one of my favourite England ones. This Score Draw replica shirt is fantastic and is great quality, I know I will never have the original of this shirt but the Score Draw one really makes up for that. 


You just cant beat a shirt with a collar so when I found my mum's 2001/03 Bradford City shirt I chanced it a bit and asked if I could have it and now it is nicely stored in my collection. I am so glad my mum kept hold of this one as it is definitely one of my favourites with minimal writing on it there is just the central badge and the sponsor so it is kept nice and basic. 


My mum had also kept hold of my 1999/2001 shirt  which I am really grateful for as even though it is never going to fit me again it is a really nice shirt to have that has plenty of memories behind it. The thing I love most about this one though is the collar with Bantams on it I absolutely love this. 


Whilst we were up in the loft we also found mine and my mum's 2001/03 away shirt and my matching one. I love how she kept hold of both and to have them both in my collection is fantastic. Plus my mum's actually fits me so I can go back and wear it if I want too. 


We also managed to find my Manchester United 2008/09 40th anniversary shirt whilst we were in the loft. This is one of my favourite Manchester United shirts due to it being to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the 1968 European cup victory against Benfica. I have the programme from this game and my grandparents also got me this shirt with Best 7 on the back which for me makes it that bit more special for me.  



Over on Twitter I managed to win a charity auction for the Lionesses 2019 World Cup shirt. I couldn't bring myself to pay full price for this shirt when it came out but I really wanted to add it to my collection so when the auction came up i started bidding straight away and won it. The details on this shirt are absolutely amazing and Nike did a great job for the Lionesses first shirt away from the men's team. I hope they do something like this for the Euros and the next Women's world cup too. 


I have quite a few FIFA shirts in my collection so when FIFA 21 was released I had to pick this one up too as I absolutely love the design on it. 


It is actually quite rare that I love England shirts and want to pay full price for one but the 2020/21 shirt is definitely an exception from that as once I saw it was available I knew I was getting it as soon as possible. I love the blue and red with the detailing in the print of the shirt which is just fantastic like with the Lionesses shirt. Plus it has a collar which makes it a 10/10 for me. 
 

Leanne over on Twitter got in touch with me to see if I was interested in any of the items she was selling I couldn't turn down this signed Carli Lloyd shirt. I am still upset that I never got to see Lloyd play at Man City when she was over here but this shirt is going straight into the hallway with my other special shirts, I love it.


Finally we have this Copa replica Juventus 1992 shirt which surprise surprise has a collar. I don't usually bother with replica's like this as they aren't authentic however, I wasn't leaving this one. I love the shirt with the classic Juventus stripes and the sponsor blending with the stripes instead of being too much of a distraction. This is a really good take on the original Kappa shirt. 

I seem to have received a lot of new shirts but I can only see my collection growing even more throughout this year and beyond so I will keep doing these update posts as more come in. What shirt would you like most out of this post? I can't decide my favourite. 

My Current Favourite FAWSL Players

It has definitely been strange watching the FAWSL without the fans in the grounds but it is just really great having the competition back and thanks to the current pandemic situation we have had some great players come into the league that honestly I don't think would have come if the NWSL would have had a regular season in 2020. Players have come over to increase their chances of getting into getting into their countries Olympic teams and continue getting game time to keep. up their fitness. I really do believe that these players coming over has also pushed those who have played in the league for a few seasons as they have a lot of competition now for their space on the team. So here are my current favourite players in the league...


Of course Tobin Heath is on this list. Tobin is one of my favourite footballers and has been for a long time now so to have her in the UK is fantastic. Granted she may have picked the wrong side of Manchester for me but before she picked up her recent injury she was showing us the Tobin we all love. Her quality on the ball is unbelievable and she slotted into the United team really well. I just hope she recovers from her injury soon and soon reaches this great form once again as she can really help United push for that top spot and one of those Champions League places. Fingers crossed Heath also signs a contract extension too to keep her at the club a little longer so fans can see for themselves what she is capable of and not just see it through the TV screen. 
 

Leah Galton is having an absolutely fantastic season and she is really finding her form at the moment. This season Galton just seems to have really stepped up and has been vital in helping United get as many points as they have. Galton is fantastic at getting forward and creating assists but she is also fantastic at getting a goal when needed too as we have seen plenty of times from her already this season. Galton is definitely going to play a big part in keeping Manchester United in the top 3 of the table and pushing for a Champions League spot which they definitely deserve this season. 


For me Sam Mewis has been one of the best newcomers to the league. She has made a very positive impact on the Man City side and I believe that since she joined the side the team have looked a lot more put together and complete. She has already shown what she is capable of in front of the goal and in the midfield. I really look forward to seeing Mewis' name on the squad sheet as you know that she is definitely going to add that extra threat and depth to the squad that Man City lacked at the end of last season. It is great to see how easily she has slotted into English football and let's hope she is here for plenty more seasons.


If you are looking for a no nonsense defender in the women's game look no further than Mille Bright. Bright has been one of my favourites for quite a few years now as she is a brilliant defender who doesn't mess around and isn't afraid to make a challenge. For me Bright is also one of the most consistent defenders in the league and has really helped Chelsea when it has been needed most, not only with her defending abilities but she is also threat in attack too whether it is a header or a long range strike she isn't afraid to give it a go. I would go as far as saying Bright is my favourite English defender overall at the moment and I hope she is one of the first names on the Team GB Olympic team sheet. 


Since Fran Kirby's return to action after her lengthy illness it is clear she has made plenty of improvements and is back in fine form. I don't know if it is the fight for a place on the team sheet or just to show people she is still capable of being a top quality player but Kirby is possibly in the finest form I have seen from her in years. Chelsea have brought in plenty of quality strikers and midfielders over the past few seasons so competition at the club for game time is fierce but Kirby for me one of the standout names out of those options and she is showing Emma Hayes just what she is capable. I just hope Kirby can stay injury free as this season is really chance for her to shine once more. 

So those players are my favourites at the moment but I am sure by the end of the season more names will be added so who knows there may be an end of season favourites post too. I can't wait until we can finally get back to going to the stadiums to watch games as I am hoping Heath is still over here playing and it is going to be great seeing these players in form and live for a change, watching every week on TV just doesn't cut it with all the talent is on offer. I don't know if it is the fact we can't go watch the games or just the quality of the players who have joined the league and how close it is in the table but I have to say this is my favourite season in a while. 

Who are your favourite FAWSL players at the moment? 


Boots That I Would Love To Own

One thing I have really got back into lately is football boots, I think it is because I have started looking at reviewing them on here (plenty coming this year) but also because I really love the designs companies are coming out with lately and it is even helping me discover some from a brand I wouldn't have tried in the past. So here are the boots I would love to pick up...

 


I have never bothered with New Balance before but for some reason I really like the New Balance Tekela V3's. To be honest I feel like they look like something Nike would make. For me though what I really like is the black boot with the orange that isn't too in your face. The bit of orange just makes them stand out without being too standout like some boots brands are bringing out. 


The Puma x BALR boots just look like a nice classic pair of boots and fit with the rest of the collaboration nicely. I love the black and silver colourway as they just look nice a simple however the details are there and noticeable without taking away from the simplicity of the boot. The boots have the netfit for the laces and a knitted upper for a supportive fit. I would love to see how the GripControl layer works on these boots too. 


Another pair of boots that I would love to own from Puma are the Ultra 1.1's especially in the black & luminous pink colourway. These ones have a woven upper with aramid &  carbon fibre which is meant to help with forward motion, this is why they are worn by the likes Lukaku, Nikita Parris & Aguero. You definitely wouldn't be missed on the pitch wearing this colourway. 



The Adidas Eternal Class 1 Predator Absolutes are a retro classic but they come with a very high price tag too at £300. The Predators are a classic boot and have been brought back in this limited edition model.  With the lacing and fold over tongue of the 2006 classic Predator absolute they are on the sole plate of the Predator Mutator +, these boots just look far too good. 



I think there is a bit of a theme with the colourways I am loving lately as this is yet another black and pink colourway. The Adidas Predators are one of those boots I always used to skip past but for some reason lately I am just getting more and more tempted by them. I have never owned a lace less pair of boots either so it would definitely be nice to have these as my first pair. They also have the ankle sock to improve stability which is something that is definitely an essential especially if you have weak ankles like me. 



For so long Nike were my go to brand for football boots and to be honest I wasn't a fan of wearing anything other than Nike but lately I haven't been impressed with some of their offerings however, after a quick scroll on the Nike website I found one pair I loved which is the Phantom GT Elite By Lucy Bronze. These custom boots just look fantastic with the gold color on the flyknit material and the tough text on the outside of the boot they are a great looking pair of boots. But the best part about these is you can customize them to say what you like, you can have them low cut or add a dynamic collar, there are plenty of customization you can make to these to really make them your own or you can just stick to the Lucy Bronze ones. 


There are definitely some fantastic boots out there at the moment but I think Adidas and Puma are producing the best ones and I could probably have done posts on just them with about 10 pairs from each brand as they are that good. 

My Favourite Pieces Of Football Memorabilia

Over the years I have added quite a bit of football memorabilia into my collection, especially since moving out I have added a fair but however, I have also managed to save some bits from whilst I was growing up too which I am very grateful for. It was rare that I ever got rid of my shirts and I would also pick up bits from attending games, online events and I would also receive things as gifts from family. As I have got older my love for the sport has only grown so I have added more and more pieces to my collection, especially since earning my own money and since moving into our own home we have added more to create a football theme around the house which is only getting better and better with every piece we add. With every addition though it seems to bring a new favourite however, there are some items that are solid favourites and these are...

Signed Bradford City Training Shirt

This was a gift from my parents at Christmas a few years ago and it is one of my most prized possessions. This training (warm up shirt) is signed by the Bradford City 18/19 squad and is printed with Darby 2 printed on the back. Stephen Darby is one of my all time favourite City players and I think he always will be so to have this shirt and know that the money went to the Darby Rimmer MND foundation which is a fantastic cause. I really wanted one of these and kept hinting to the family and honestly I don't know how they managed to keep it a surprise until Christmas day, now it is hung proudly at the top of the stairs for everyone to see. 

Lucy Bronze Shirt

It is quite funny that this is actually on the list as the Manchester City shirt was actually purchased for just £4 at our nearest Nike outlet years ago, I never intended to get it printed but a few weeks later I changed my mind and ended up getting Bronze 2 printed on the back from our local DW Sports store. A few weeks later Bradford City Women were having an event which was a Q&A with Lucy and you got to meet her too so of course we ended up with tickets and I took my shirt along to be signed. Now this is hung next to my Darby shirt at the top of the stairs and I don't plan on moving it anytime soon unless it is to get it framed. 

Keyring From Fiorentina 

When I was younger my dad worked as a steward at Bradford City so me and my mum went to plenty of games. One of my favourite moments growing up though was when we went to see Bradford City vs Fiorentina back in 2000. I was only 5/6 at this point and whilst waiting for my dad after the game we ended up meeting the Fiorentina players and they were fantastic they gave us merchandise and even food that they had left over from after the game, they were just lovely and it is an interaction I will always remember. I still have the keyring they gave us that day and even though it is an item that doesn't even say Fiorentina on it, the keyring will always remind me of that day and those interactions. It is thanks to this Fiorentina are one of my favourite teams abroad too they definitely left a lasting impression. 

Bradford City Captains Armband

This armband was actually a present for Liam but I guess seen as we live together now it is something in my collection too or at least that was the aim when buying it. I purchased this armband which is signed by James Vaughan from the Bradford City Christmas market back in 2019 and honestly I only got this due to running out of ideas of what to get Liam for Christmas that year. I am so glad I did though as Vaughan ended up going out of loan so was no longer our captain plus it is from the season that was never completed for the club so I guess you could say it is a little memory from a moment in history. I would love to add more things like this into our collection too over time as the presentation from the club in displaying this is fantastic and it looks great hung on our wall. 

Manchester United vs Benfica Programme from 1968

This was a gift from my grandparents for my 16th or 18th birthday and I love it. Unfortunately though at the moment this programme is round at my parents being kept safe until our house is fully redecorated as this is so old I don't want to risk it getting damaged after me looking after it so long, plus I don't want to store it somewhere in the house where I may end up misplacing it. They actually got me this programme from a flea market at a town local too us and it is the original from the game. For years I had this proudly on display in my room as it is a little piece of Manchester United history and as soon as the house is fully redecorated I will have this on display with the rest of our football items. 

My 1st Bradford City Shirt

This could very easily be my overall favourite from this post as it is one of the very first football items I owned and it is even signed making it even more special. I am so glad my parents kept hold of this one for me and that I still have it today as it is definitely one of those items where you just look back and think 'well I guess this is where it all began'. I think once the hallway is redecorated this might also end up being framed and hung up in the hallway/ staircase with the rest of our football items as it is that special.

So those are my favourite pieces of football memorabilia that I have got over the years, I know that I will be continuing to buy pieces for years to come and no doubt our house will be over run with pieces soon enough but this is definitely something I love as there are some great pieces out there to be purchased. What is your favourite piece of footballing memorabilia that you own?   

There Is Just Something About Going To A Game & Getting A Programme...

When I was younger I loved going to football and rugby games and purchasing a programme but I slowly changed that as I got a bit older and I started to only purchase programmes from games that were big games or ones I definitely wanted to remember due to something in them such as interviews or even posters back in the day. Sometimes it was even a case of a programme having my favourite player on the front and that is all it took for me to make the purchase. 

So here are the programmes I have managed to find in my collection...


First up we have the one of my absolute favourite programmes as it is from the first ever women's game I ever went to watch. Way back in 2007 I went to see Leeds vs Arsenal Women in the FA Cup final at Scunthorpe's ground. It is funny looking back and seeing how many names from that game have gone on to make a name for themselves and how many are still playing today. 


Then we have my current collection of Bradford City Women's programmes. These are definitely going to be my prized possessions as they have articles in that we wrote specifically for them. Never did I think I would be writing for their programme so this is a huge achievement for me and one I am certainly always going to remember. 


Now this is a programme I am questioning as I don't have a clue why I have it. This programme is from the Community Shield game back in 2004 between Arsenal & Manchester United. I know I certainly didn't go to this game so I can only imagine that my dad or grandad had a friend who went and brought me a programme back. I am glad I have this though as there is something about it I love. 


I have a small selection of Manchester United programmes which I have gained from the few games I have managed to go to. I have definitely been to more games than I have programmes for but the one with Phil Neville on is from my first United game so that holds a lot of memories for me. I also have one from years ago which I picked up from a market a while back. I would love to add more Man Utd programmes into my collection. 


One of my favourite programmes in my collection has to be this one from my first trip to Wembley. It is a shame that first trip had to end in defeat but of course the occasion had to be marked with me picking up a programme. It seems to have become a great place for me to store the tickets from that game too.


I don't have as many Bradford City programmes as I would like to be honest but the ones I do have are brilliant as I even have the Bradford vs Chelsea one somewhere, I just wish I knew where. I have a memorial programme to mark the anniversary of the fire, I have one with my favourite Kai Bruenker on it, one from after the Chelsea win and most importantly I have one from the game vs Leeds which we ended up winning.  I know I definitely have plenty more Bradford programmes dotted around my parents house so maybe it is time I went to find them. 


It wasn't just football matches I picked up programmes for as I went to lot of rugby matches when I was younger too. To be honest as I got older I started to only buy the ones for those important matches I went to and these are the only ones I kept hold of as they are from a few of the Grand Final's I went to. I also have a Bradford Bulls one somewhere in the house that I am actually in so I may have to try find that out, if I do I will post a picture of it on Instagram.

So there you have it those are some of my prized possessions also known as my programme collection. I honestly wish I kept hold of or could find some of my missing programmes as there are some from some great games that have disappeared. I think my favourites are the ones from Bradford City Women where we are printed in them and also the Leeds vs Arsenal Women's FA Cup programme. I also have a Manchester United 1968 Champions League final programme somewhere which I really need to find.  

What are your favourite programmes in your collection? 

In Conversation With Brighouse Town Women's Manager Rob Mitchell


Kicking our 'In Conversation Series' for 2021 we managed to ask Brighouse Town Ladies manager a few questions about the club and his journey into the women's game. If you have been reading the blog for a while you will know our first post was actually a match report from our trip to watch Bradford City Women vs Brighouse Town Women's, the club have been a big support for the blog so far and I am looking forward to getting to some more games once we are allowed again and seeing how the club progresses. So here is how our conversation with Rob went...

EOTA :  What got you into football in the first place?

Rob : I think football has always been part of my life from a young age, although I didn't start playing for teams until I was a little older, I always used play in my grandmas back garden, on the streets and at school. I can remember playing on video games such as FIFA and Championship Manager.

EOTA : Could you describe the process of you becoming manager of Brighouse Town? 

Rob : Back in 2013 I was the first team coach for the men's side at Brighouse and we wanted to start a women's team at the club, I had already had a bit of experience of working in the women's game and felt it was a project I could really give my all to. We managed to put together the structure in place, recruit players and have grown each season to be where we are today.

EOTA : Was it always your intention to manage in the women’s game?

Rob : I think for me personally, I don't look at the gender of the players on the pitch. Football is football to me and as far as I'm concerned I'm managing a group of footballers who want to develop and be the best version of themselves that they can be.

EOTA : What do you believe you have brought to this club since taking up the role of manager? 

Rob : I'd like to think I've been able to instill a winning mentality and professional structure. The culture of any club is vital for you to be successful and I believe that between myself, the coaching staff and players we have done pretty well to achieve success. I think I'm quite an open and honest manager, always approachable and will support our players to improve and develop. If you're willing to give your all to this club and buy in to our ethos I'll fight for you and support you all the way, if not it's probably not going to work out in the long run.

EOTA : How important has your coaching team been to what you’ve achieved? 

Rob : We have an unbelievably talented and hard working group behind the scenes and as mentioned previously, without them we cannot operate to the same levels. Our secretary Becky Alderson is incredible, she works tirelessly behind the scenes along with the chairman Colin Tomkins who has become a really good friend of mine, he will do anything for you, is honest and says it how it is.

My assistant Kevin Heetun is an amazing #2 with his football knowledge and work ethic, I've not seen commitment like what he brings before alongside Lee Harrison who is a new addition this season, he's someone we've wanted to bring in for a while and I'm finally delighted we got him. Ruth Brazier is out first team coach and brings a wealth of expertise to the group, our calming influence somewhat and a bit of a super sub when required. Mikey Emery is our GK coach and has played and worked at the top level, great for the banter but another very knowledgeable coach. Sam Cleaver is our S&C coach, he's the one the players probably dislikes because he makes them run but he's amazing at what he does and has been, like all the others an amazing addition.

Georgina Neilsen is our newest recruit and she is in charge of our Video Analysis, it's been a massive help so far and really given us the edge in some of the games this season already.

I could go on and on with the amount of others that help out to make us successful, from Emma Stevenson, Ray Alderson and Ray Spencer the photographer. Together they are an amazing group.

EOTA : Could you tell me about how you personally coped with managing a side during lockdown? 

Rob : I'd be lying if I said it was easy, the constant stop and start not being able to build any momentum is not just difficult physically but it's mentally demanding for the coaches and players as well. I know there are bigger things going on in the world right now but football is vitally important for not only us as a club but for the wider footballing community and we hope that we can return once again to play the game we all love. For now we will continue to meet regular for Zoom calls and fitness, keep checking in with the players and plan for any eventual return that may come our way.

EOTA : We have seen the club using Zoom fitness calls to stay in shape what other ways are you helping players stay connected whilst the season is suspended? 

Rob : I think Zoom has been a big one but without putting pressure on the players to get out and go for a run, we have a Strava group where players can track runs and see what others have been getting up to. We are planning on having a YOGA session soon and will try to put some interviews together to keep everyone engaged.

EOTA : It must’ve been challenging to prepare for this season. Was there ever any doubt in your mind that you could retain a strong squad to push for top spot this year? 

Rob : I believe we had an excellent preseason and recruited really well, we identified the players and areas we needed and were very fortunate to get 90% of what we wanted. From there we've hit the ground running with the girls getting to grips with a new shape which demands high fitness and energy levels so that was a challenge but one I believe they mastered with the help of Sam.

EOTA : Do you think the stop start aspect of COVID lockdowns may be detrimental to some clubs especially in leagues like your own due to finances and players staying match fit throughout?

Rob : I think financially it's always going to be difficult for teams at our level, especially when games are behind closed doors and we still have officials and travel expenses to pay for. The FA cup has been beneficial with us putting a cup run together which brings prize money and a positive adventure to look forward to. I think fitness will be affected in the short term and we may see a few injuries due to demands of being on and off but we have games postponed due to the weather usually anyway, the big problem now is the restrictions on training which won't help with match fitness, sharpness and touches of the ball.

EOTA : Where do you hope to see the club in the next five years?

Rob : I'd love for us to be in the division above and be able to compete in the next 5 years, the level of opposition has improved, coaches are better equipped tactically and the demands are greater with so many teams fighting to achieve the same goals. I'd love for us to also develop our players to go on and play at the top level or at least contribute towards their development.

If we can go one better ourselves then that would be amazing too but we will continue to do what we always do and take it one game at a time and see where that takes us. 

EOTA : As the women’s game grows and becomes more popular do you think there is going to be more pressure added from lower club chairmen/women to get those clubs into the limelight & growing an even bigger fan base?

Rob : 100%, I believe that teams have already started to do that already, we've increased our attendances and engagement with local junior grassroots girls teams and regularly host girls tournaments. We offer free entry for U16's too which will hopefully help us to gain our fans of the future. I think its always going to be hard for teams such as ourselves, Liverpool Feds, Chester-Le-Street etc not having a big men's team attached to us or a recognizable name to piggy back off but in a way that's great because it gives us the chance to create something for ourselves and the success will always taste that little bit sweeter!

EOTA : As the game grows how do you think the male counterparts could help grow the women’s game & bring more fans through the gate?

Rob : I don't think they have to, I think the big thing is sponsors and exposure to the game are more important, of course it would be great if more people attended games who already attend men's games and I'm sure if they did attend they'd find that they probably would enjoy it because as mentioned before, football is football regardless of gender.

EOTA : Do you ever worry that as the game grows unnecessary pressure may be put on your players off the pitch as their profile grows as we have seen social media can be a tough place due to sexist comments even in 2020? How do you and the club help any players that may be suffering due to that?

Rob : It shouldn't be the case, but sadly we still get nonsensical, sexist and discriminatory comments aimed toward female players and coaches etc. I believe the culture we have at the club which is massive on equality and diversity really helps the players, of course it can be hard reading things online sometimes and we will always be there to support our players should they need it.

EOTA : Do you think we are ever going to see a decrease in those sexist comments and have it so big outlets can help promote the women’s game without seeing a load of abuse under each social media post or do you think governing bodies need to help promote the game more & in a better more consistent light for this to happen?

Rob : I think as the world evolves and peoples perceptions change I'd like to think there will be a change in peoples minds, sadly we will always get the odd few who cannot be changed. I think regardless of gender, footballers make mistakes on the pitch but I think women's footballers are highlighted more from the minimum expose the game does get compared to the globally marketed and branded male game. Anyone who takes the time to comment "No one cares" obviously cares enough to comment so at least they know women play football and as times goes on and their daughter, sister, niece etc start to play the game I'm I'm there perception will too.

EOTA : Once football returns (again), what is a realistic goal for the season? 

Rob : I think that will all depend on how the league looks if and when we return, of course we want to be successful and how that looks for our club is very different to others. To be competitive, improve on and off the pitch and finish as high up the table as possible would be what we will strive for and hopefully we can continue to finish what we started at the beginning of the season.

EOTA : Finally any advice for someone wanting to take up a management role in the women’s game?

Rob : I think I'd definitely advise anyone wanting to get involved in management to never stop learning or asking questions, get to know each player as a person and treat them as footballers. A big thing I'd like to think I've done well over the years is knowing the players around in the level above, below and current level, network as much as possible and ensure you set yours and the teams standards high regardless of the level you want to work at.

There you have it that was our conversation with Rob Mitchell from Brighouse. Rob and his team are doing a fantastic job at the club and if you do ever get chance to see the team play make sure you take that opportunity. You can follow Rob on Twitter & also Brighouse Town Women's to stay up to date on fixtures and club news. 

Who would you like to see us chat to next?

My Current Favourite Bradford City Players

Normally writing this post would be easy for me as I usually get instant favourites when it comes to Bradford City however, this year it is really difficult as the players haven't consistently been performing anywhere near how they should be in League 2 and honestly it has been painful watching games on iFollow most weekends as you just know what is going to happen before kick off. Since they let go of McCall things have improved but with us yet to play in 2021 it does make you wonder if the lack of game time is going to revert players back to the start of the season performances. There are a few players that do seem to be making more of an effort and doing well with what they have around them and to be honest they are my current favourites as they are showing they want to play and get the results for the fans. It is funny as two of these players would never normally have made it on to the list however, they are really beginning to prove themselves. So here are those few current favourites...

Connor Wood 

To me Connor has been a stand out player for a while now. He works so hard on that left wing it is just a shame that others aren't on the end of the brilliant crosses he puts into the box. You always see him on the break then trying his hardest to get back into that defensive line to help out the rest of his defense as no one else seems to track back as much. He has provided plenty of chances but the rest of the team just don't seem to be able to keep up or get in the right positions to actually finish the chances. 


Anthony O'Connor

 Surprisingly Anthony O'Connor has made it onto the list as I feel he has really improved as a player and is really showing just how much he wants to be in the starting 11 week in week out.  There have been a few times when O'Connor has been playing out of his position this season but I really do believe that he has stepped up and helped up in conceding less goals than we already have. A few seasons ago his name would be nowhere near this but now I think he is really starting to show improvement. 


Billy Clarke

3rd time lucky for Billy I guess, honestly I have never really been his biggest fan but this season I find that he is doing better than previously and is really trying his best to turn things around get the results we should be getting. Billy is another player who hasn't really been in his preferred position for most of this season but he is doing well with what he has been given. Let's hope any new manager we get can help him achieve his full potential and help him get on the score sheet more often & help City out of the trouble they are in. 

Lets hope that when the team continue playing as they should be and actually start looking like they are going to continue to win games instead of the same story week after week that City fans have become used to. Who knows then some players may end up redeeming themselves and making it onto this list. 

Bradford City Have Had Some Fantastic Players In The Past... Here Are My Favourites

Over the years that I have been supporting Bradford City we have had some great players but also had some massive flops too. My earliest memories are of watching Bradford playing in the Premiership with some fantastic names that really stood out then as I grew old and the teams changed there were plenty more names that stood out and in my opinion made an impact. So here are those players who made it onto my list of favourite past Bradford City players, I have to admit these were definitely easy picks as these are always the names that stand out to me when anyone asked who my favourites have been over the years. 

Stuart McCall

Current Bradford City manager Stuart McCall is a Bradford City legend in my eyes, he was a fantastic player in the midfield for City over the years and made a definite impact. He's also been back to manage the team and is currently trying his best to get the current side back in form like he did in his last stint at the club when they reached the League 1 play off final. There is also that fantastic moment where he is celebrating on top of the car with a can of beer and falls off which makes me laugh every time. 

Dean Windass

I don't know what it is about Windass but he has always been a player I have loved for City. Bagging himself 75 goals in his two stints at the club in my eyes he was fantastic it was great growing up having a player like him on the team I watched. Plus that goal he scored for Hull to win them promotion you just can't beat it. 

Rory McArdle

I would happily have Rory back at the club any day as he was a player I loved to watch play. A real no nonsense defender who put in some brilliant challenge and provided some great goals in his 183 appearances for the club between 2012 & 2017. I am sure he often mistook being a defender for being a wrestler with some of the challenges he made but he always made the defence that little bit safer when he was playing. 

Stephen Darby

It is actually thanks to Darby I ended up following Man City women but that is a story for another day. Darby was a great player at right back for the club and to be honest it shows just how good he was for the club when you look at how that position has declined since he left the club to head to Bolton. For me Darby was a great captain and was really influential in the clubs success during the time he was playing for the club.  

Benito Carbone 

Benito Carbone is a name I think I am always going to remember. Carbone was at the club just as I was really enjoying the game with my mum, he is probably the first big name (well big for Bradford)  I ever picked up on and although he wasn't at City for long he is always going to be one of my favourites. I do believe if he stayed at the club a little longer and I was a bit older to appreciate the game at the time he was with us he may be even further up my favourites list.

David Wetherall 

The hero that kept us in the Premier League for another year. This for me made Wetherall one of my favourite players in its own right as that goal against Liverpool kept us in the league. Unfortunately he was hit with plenty of injuries whilst at the club but he still went on to make 304 appearances for the club in just under a 10 year period which for any player is a great achievement. 

If you follow or have watched Bradford City who would make your list of favourite past players who have worn that Bradford City shirt? 

My Favourite Manchester United Players At The Moment

 Manchester United haven't had the best start the best start to the season at all and something needs to start turning around in their favour soon. As many of you will know Manchester United have been a team I have followed closely for a long time now and I still do so seeing them in the state they are currently in isn't fun at all. However, although they are on a bad run now I still have favourite players who I think make a difference in the games they play in and if only the rest of the team worked like them, well maybe then results will turn around and they will start getting 3 points for a change. So here are my favourite Manchester United players currently... 

McTominay 

Scott McTominay is one of those players who at just a young age is already starting to show a lot of potential. I think if he gets the support and guidance needed from the club and the older midfielders at the club he could really become a household name and a world class midfielder. He isn't afraid to put in a challenge and is great at creating & being a part of any attacks too. He could really be a key midfielder for Man Utd in the next few seasons. 


Fernandes

Bruno Fernandes is a player I have been really looking forward to seeing play and to be honest he hasn't disappointed me. Fernandes is certainly a play maker and if he could just get the rest of the team on the same wave length and they could be dominating in attacks once again. I just hope he doesn't get frustrated with the rest of the team as that could see his performance slip. 

Martial 

Last season Martial really impressed me, when Rashford was injured he really stepped up and made a positive impact and really helped United get back into those Champions League spots. I think with the right delivery and amount of game time this season he could certainly be a very influential player for United and how they turn their season around. 


Williams

Just like with McTominay, Brandon Williams is another player who is just a young age but already starting to show progress and how good of a player he can be. In the 19/20 season he played some fantastic games and really showed what he was made of. Give him guidance and support and I think we could soon enough see the academy graduate become a permanent name on the United team sheet as the world sees his potential. 


Rashford

Marcus Rashford isn't just an influential figure on the pitch he is also one off the pitch too. Honestly with all the press on him at the moment I was a little worried that he may buckle under the pressure and his performance on the field may suffer but that hasn't been the case at all. Towards the end of last season he was doing really well after returning from injury and he has started this season off pretty well too, he just needs the team around him to perk up too and we might start seeing more goals from him and some results. 


Shaw

I never thought Luke Shaw would make it onto my favourite players list as I have never really been a fan of his. However, I think he has shown a bit of progress this season and been able to get United into some good positions with no one unable to offer him the support he needs when he has made a break down the left. I would definitely say he has been one of those standout players in an otherwise shocking defensive line which certainly needs work. He seems to be more confident attacking this season too and tracking back so his fitness must have certainly improved. 

Obviously this list changes on a season basis as the seasons progress and players come and go so I am sure you will see plenty of updated versions of this post in the future but for now these are my top 6 players in the United team from the 19/20 & 20/21 seasons. Who are you enjoying watching play for Manchester United these days if anyone?