Barnsley Women’s FC 0-3 Liverpool Feds FC Women
When: Sunday 12th November 2023
Where: Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park Community Stadium, Worksop Road, Attercliffe, Sheffield South Yorkshire S9 3TL
Competition: The Women’s FA Cup First Round Proper
Women’s football betting is booming at the moment and is only going to get bigger and bigger. Girls like my four year old daughter will enjoy an outstanding chance to become a professional footballer in the future.
Hopefully national publicity can continue to grow along with sponsorship and advertising. It reminds me of the huge expansion of Rugby Union from an amateur set-up to a thriving professional structure in the late 1990’s helpfully driven by the media.
Bearing everything in mind, I set off on a 300 mile round trip to watch an appetising match in The Women’s FA Cup First Round Proper. I had previously seen Barnsley Women’s play in this competition on December 1st 2019. They beat Sheffield FC Women 4-0 (attendance 302) in a Second Round tie at the Academy Stadium adjacent to Barnsley FC’s Oakwell headquarters.
But since then, Barnsley Women’s have relocated to the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park Community Stadium hosting their inaugural fixture in August 2023. Historically, the club was initially formed in 1982 as Barnsley Ladies FC.
They performed under that title until the end of the 2016/17 season before a slight change to Barnsley FC Ladies. Later on 16th March 2018, Barnsley Women’s Football Club Limited took over ownership and subsequently changed the team’s name to Barnsley Women’s FC.
The Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park Community Stadium has been built on the former site of Don Valley Athletics Stadium which was demolished in 2013 due to local council money saving exercises.
I attended a match at Don Valley on 26th August 1991 - Sheffield FC drew 2-2 against Glasshoughton Welfare in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division. I remember how strange the occasion seemed with 176 intrepid Non-League supporters rattling around inside a cavernous 25,000 capacity arena that included a 10,000 seater main stand.
Of course, it was more populated when Rotherham United staged Football League action there between 2008 and 2012. Don Valley was eventually replaced by the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park containing assorted sporting, educational, medical and recreation amenities.
Furthermore, Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park Community Stadium opened fully last year. The eye-catching focal point is an impressive grandstand seating 758 spectators. It incorporates well-appointed hospitality and corporate suites behind glass facing on to the 3G synthetic playing surface.
Apart from Barnsley Women’s FC, it is also the home of Rugby League side Sheffield Eagles. I understand the preceding Don Valley footprint is now totally covered in a freshly constructed college building.
So the Olympic Legacy stadium is a new ground for me under my own personal groundhopping rules because it doesn’t overlap the original pitch.
An eight page glossy colour production offering varied reading material and good use of photos.
Articles featured the manager’s notes plus details of club mascots and sponsors.
Barnsley Women’s went into this cup pairing in decent form. They topped the FA Women’s National League Division One North amassing seven wins and a draw across eight unbeaten games so far.
That is the fourth level of English women’s football league system. Meanwhile, Liverpool Feds hovered one tier above in the FAWNL Northern Premier Division.
And it was Feds who made their higher status count winning 3-0 via Katie Anderson (3 minutes), Katy Woodcock own goal (8 mins) and Ellie Fletcher (89 mins).
Barnsley Women’s CEO Steve Maddock and his team of enthusiastic volunteers gave me a nice friendly welcome throughout the afternoon.
Steve told me: “Obviously we are loving our new base at the Olympic Legacy Park. However we strive to find a site in Barnsley suitable to develop a purpose-built stadium of own. This has always got to be our aim. Although it is proving very difficult but the local council hold the key for us.”
*Credit for the photos in this article belongs to Tony Incenzo*