Bromley Ladies make history as they get their kicks
PUBLISHED: 13:00 01 October 2013 | UPDATED: 13:00 01 October 2013
Ask the average person and they will tell you Steven Gerrard is the captain of England or that Manchester United won the Premier League last season.
But how many could name the England Ladies captain? Or tell you who won the Women’s Super League? The answers are Casey Stoney and Liverpool, by the way.
This season Bromley FC introduced its first ladies side, and the players are now looking to show the public that women’s football can be just as entertaining as the men’s game.
The side, formerly Bromleians, are experiencing a whole new level of football – summed up by their debut fixture against Crystal Palace Ladies.
“We don’t just feel like an add-on to the club,” said left-back Shanna Williams. “We are being treated like we are in the men’s first team.
“Confidence and spirits are really high at the moment. The pitch is so good at Hayes Lane that it’s a bit of a shock playing away games now because we go from playing on carpet to playing at muddy parks.”
Women’s football received a boost during the Olympics last year and the sport is receiving prominent coverage from the BBC for FA Cup ties and World Cup qualifiers.
Results such as England’s 8-0 victory over Turkey last week demonstrate the strength of the sport in this country, and Bromley manager Steven Payne admits he was surprised by the standard of women’s football in the lower leagues.
He said: “I had always managed men when I got this call saying there’s a ladies team in need of a manager.
“We all watch Arsenal Ladies and see how technically gifted they are but I was genuinely surprised at how good these girls were. I’ve found they actually listen more than men do.
“Women’s football is taking over. I never realised until I started managing these girls but if you visit any park on a Sunday you will find women playing there. It’s really opened my eyes.”
Now in his third season with Bromley Ladies, transport worker Steven is hoping to push for the Greater London Women’s League title this season.
With back-to-back wins in recent weeks, defender Shanna agrees that a trophy is in their sights.
“We want to climb the league and win a few cups this season,” she said. “We are in three cups, so we’re hoping to reach the final of all of them.”
The council worker says she has seen an increase in support since the start of the season, which she hopes will aid the profile of the women’s game.
She added: “When I started playing, people would say women can’t play football, and if you did it must have just been for fun.
“Now with the BBC coverage people are seeing it’s a very high level sport and one of the largest growing in the world.
“We constantly have girls asking to play for us but we’re full.
“Hopefully we’ll have a reserve team soon.”
For the latest match reports, highlights and fixtures for Bromley Ladies visit bromleyfc.tv.