Why watching Nottingham Forest's ladies is well worth it
If you thought that Nottingham Forest weren't playing this weekend, think again.
NFFC ladies took on high flying Blackburn Rovers and I went along to get a glimpse of the action.
Nottingham Forest Football Club is exactly what it says it is, a club and not just a team, which is how many of us perceive it to be.
Believe it or not, Forest have boasted a Ladies side for over quarter of a century. Ironically, that coincided with the beginning of what’s been a long and painful decent for the men’s senior team. Gone are the halcyon days of Brian Clough’s miracle men and the annual visits to Wembley Stadium in various competitions, and with them a few thousand supporters too.
Given the current situation at Forest under Fawaz Al-Hasawi, it’s no surprise that attendances will only decrease even further.
So, if you’re one of the stay away stalwarts, you could do a lot worse than supporting the Ladies eleven.
The female game is certainly on the up and if you require any evidence then check out the attendance figures for the last two Women’s FA Cup finals.
I recently read a fantastic article by Molly Jennens, which highlighted the many positives of the women’s game.
She used the term intimacy, a word that resonated with me instantly due to the obvious lack of it in the men’s game. You will find fragments of it in the lower leagues but the country’s elite have a very different approach, and the divide between star player and loyal supporter is only getting wider.
Molly is currently studying football journalism at the University of Derby, the first course of its kind in the UK. She is also an Aston Villa supporter so will no doubt have sympathy for Forest under their current owner.
Basford United is the official home of Nottingham Forest ladies, a stadium that has undergone a breath-taking transformation in recent years. The Greenwich Avenue ground now hosts Evo Stick League football on a weekly basis and boasts a 4G playing surface that is a pleasure to play on. The £3 entry fee is a world away from your average Championship ticket price and notably less than the hour tariff in most Nottingham city centre car parks. So, as I took my seat in one of the many covered stands, I felt justified in choosing quality football over shopping.
Blackburn took the points in a competitive match after a 2-1 win.
It’s crazy to think that Nottingham Forest Ladies are completely self-funded, they don’t receive a penny from the senior set up at all.
It costs tens of thousands of pounds a year to operate just the first team and reserve side, less than some Championship players earn in just one week.
Even after their own generation of funds via players subs and alike, Forest Ladies usually experience a shortfall that requires fund raising and external backing. Hence the various requests for sponsorship that you’ll see on social media at seasons end.
Blackburn Rovers on the other hand, are well funded by the club and can pay their players. Given their performances this season, it certainly looks like a sound investment too.
After speaking with club secretary Steven Gray, I was astounded by the commitment of everyone involved at the club. Assistant player/manager Andi bell, travels back for training twice a week despite working in Liverpool whilst Canadian Aja Aguirre is crossbar high in University assignments. Gray himself, juggled the secretarial duties alongside the half time raffles and constantly updating the club’s Twitter feed.
Despite this being my first ever ladies game, I’ll definitely be returning soon.
The quality of play blew me away on Sunday, not just the close control, but the sixty yard passes from the likes of Rebecca Kemp and Millie Fulger were a joy to watch.
The tackling was ferocious at times but the conduct was exemplary from both clubs. It was more wild cat than Hello Kitty for sure, as Blackburn’s Faye McCoy sported a full arm tattoo, in her rolled up sleeves approach to the midfield battle.
Whatever your reasons; if you’re boycotting the senior organisation remember that it does NOT fund the NFFC ladies set up. Personally, I’d strongly recommend supporting the woman’s’ game without agenda, the quality is superb and it’s the best three quid I’ve spent in a very long time!
NFFC Ladies are away to Derby County in the FA Cup 4th round next week, check @ForestLadies on Twitter for details.