Katy Sandalls: Women’s FA Cup Final proves momentum is really growing in ladies’ game

Chelsea Ladies celebrate with the trophy after the final whistle during the SSE Women's FA Cup Final

Chelsea Ladies celebrate with the trophy after the final whistle during the SSE Women's FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, London. Picture: ADAM DAVY/PA WIRE - Credit: PA

In her latest women’s football column, Katy Sandalls discusses a fantastic FA Cup Final, watched by a record crowd, plus gives a few more shout-out to local teams.

EADT reporter Katy Sandalls with girls football players from Capel Plough. Picture: DANIEL COLLINS

EADT reporter Katy Sandalls with girls football players from Capel Plough. Picture: DANIEL COLLINS - Credit: Archant

We’re reaching the end of the women’s football season.

While that’s a sad fact to admit it also means that we’ve seen some cracking clashes as teams fight for the top spot or silverware. I was lucky enough to be at Wembley this past weekend to watch this year’s Women’s Cup Final.

It was my second year watching this hotly contested prize with two of the biggest names in the game vying for the trophy: Arsenal and Chelsea.

Even on paper it was evident that this would be something special: Arsenal have won the cup a massive 14 times previously while Chelsea had but one cup to their name but have been in impressive form all season.

It was immediately obvious from walking around the venue that crowds were bigger than last year.

Getting into the stadium alone took longer with queues of people still waiting to get in as the teams were announced to those inside.

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What the first half lacked in action was more than made up for in the second half. Goals galore from Ramona Bachmann and Fran ‘Super Fran’ Kirby meant that Chelsea were able to clinch the title with a 3-1 scoreline. Dutch international Vivianne Miedema managed to scrape one back for the gunners.

Some of the best action for me was in the crowd where fans, donned in red and blue, were eagerly shouting at their chosen teams as loudly and frequently as at any men’s game.

If only the queue for food could have been as energetic!

It also seemed to me as if more fans were wearing women’s team branded kit with names like Chapman and Kirby easy to spot on the back of shirts.

When they announced the attendance for this year’s final I was pleasantly surprised by the figure given – 45,423.

The number was a full 10,000 more than the previous year’s event and shows that the momentum appears to be growing when it comes to women’s football.

It’s really heartwarming to see the Cup be so well attended by those with genuine passion and investment in the game.

We have to acknowledge that many of these attendees are youngsters who had free tickets but still if you bring children to games like these, they are moments that will inspire for a life time.

Anyone who doesn’t believe that should tell it to the groups of kids sat not far from me who were still cheering for Arsenal when they were 3-1 down with only five minutes of the game left to go.

Indeed the great atmosphere continued as I got back on the underground towards Liverpool Street with female fans dominating the tube carriages.

One particular highlight was hearing one girl shout “check out that Fran Kirby goal again” to her friends as we travelled away from the stadium.

Linked with the FA Cup result was the news that a women’s Subbuteo set has been created. Fantastic! This was followed by the less than fantastic news that it wouldn’t be commercially available just yet. Boo!

Having never had a set myself I rather relish the idea of learning a new skill, even if it is flicking a plastic footballer across a table – but I digress.

Shout-outs for this month are going to a few different clubs.

Firstly to the Capel Plough Krakens who invited me to come and meet with them and talk all things Suffolk football as they celebrated their new sponsorship deal.

Congrats ladies!

It’s really great to meet with grassroots teams who are clearly passionate and have an interest in the national game too!

Indeed most of you did correctly predict that Chelsea would win this weekend so I doff my hat to you all.

It was also clear to see that they have a great deal of support around them from their club and parents. Keep up the good work!

The second shout out goes to Brett Vale FC who have just set up a new team on the Suffolk/Essex border.

Speaking to manager Andy Parton the other day it seems that the first few training sessions have been well attended but they are still looking for new players!

They train on Wednesday nights at the King George playing field in Raydon and will be playing in the Suffolk Women’s and Girls League next season.

If you want to join the team, contact Andy on 07792719351 or email manager:brettvalefc.co.uk.

As always get in touch if you have any women’s football news to share! Email katy.sandalls@archant.co.uk to get involved. See you next month!