Saturday 25th June 2016 ko 18.00
FA Women’s Super League Division 2
BRISTOL CITY WOMEN 4 (Farrow 18 43 Emslie 28 42)
OXFORD UNITED WOMEN 1 (Umotong 25)
Part of the fun of being one half a footballing relationship is when your two favourite sides meet, or in this case the women’s versions! Pondering that last phrase that is rather a British sounding statement, in the UK there’s only Glasgow City that plays high-level football without having an equivalent men’s team. That wasn’t always the case though and I do wonder how many home fans realised that the roots of their women’s team are rather unusual to put it mildly?
The club were formed as Bristol Rovers’ ladies team in 1998 following a merger with Cardiff-based Cable-Tel LFC, and led a rather nomadic existence until moving to Stoke Gifford stadium in 2011. The stadium is described as “Purpose built,” which raises an eyebrow or two, why is there a running track and no lack of portable “Arena” stands? The stadium lies in northern Bristol, near Filton and is part of South Gloucestershire and Stroud College’s facilities.
The club were renamed Bristol Academy Women’s Football Club in 2005, reflecting Bristol Academy of Sport’s greater influence, with Rovers withdrawing entirely for financial reasons a year later. Bristol Academy of Sport funded the club for a further year but the despite club’s funding difficulties the club became founder members of the WSL in 2011 on their move to Stoke Gifford. The club was then managed by current England boss Mark Sampson but were relegated after his elevation to the national job in 2014 to WSL2.
Another quirk of the club was the formation of a men’s side, Bristol Academy MFC in 2011, in a first in the UK, a men’s team as an off-shoot of a women’s club. It didn’t last, the club folded in 2013 after 3 moderate seasons in the Gloucestershire County League, games being played at Stoke Gifford, albeit with fewer “Arena” stands in situ.
In 2013 the club entered into a sponsorship agreement with Bristol City and for this season changed name to Bristol City Women’s FC, changing their kit from Rovers’ blue to City red in the process.
They looked good for the changes in this game, rather oddly scheduled, would this have really kicked off at 18.00 if England had been playing their Euro’s game? It mattered not as City won with an irresistable first half performance. Oxford managed one goal through Ini Umotong but were unable to muster anywhere near enough possession to put pressure on a City defence that when questioned looked nervous.
But City were lethal up front. Millie Farrow and debutante Claire Emslie showed pace, poise and coolness in front of goal and although City rather declared at half time, their victory was deserved.
One final thought though. I wonder if Bristol City Women have any supporters who’ve followed them through all their identities. Could someone actually have moved from being a Bristol Rovers fan to Bristol City one? I can think of one woman who certainly hasn’t?