Sunderland A.F.C. Ladies

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This article is about the women's football club. For the men's football club, see Sunderland A.F.C..
Sunderland A.F.C Ladies
Logo Sunderland.svg
Full name Sunderland Association Football Club Ladies
Nickname(s) "Lady Black Cats"
Founded 1989; 26 years ago (1989)
(as The Kestrels)
Ground The Hetton Centre,
Ground Capacity 2,500
General Manager Sonia Kulkarni
Chairman Per Magnus Andersson
Manager Carlton Fairweather
Coach Melanie Reay
League FA WSL 1
2014 1st, FA WSL 2 (promoted)
Website Club home page

Sunderland Association Football Club Ladies, previously Sunderland Association Football Club Women, is an English women's football club that plays in the FA WSL, the highest division of women's football in England. They play their home games at The Hetton Centre in Hetton-le-Hole, Tyne and Wear, North East England.

Sunderland won the FA Women's Premier League Northern Division in 2004–05 to reach the top tier National Division. After relegation in 2007, they returned to the National Division in 2009 and also lost that season's FA Women's Cup final, 2–1 to holders Arsenal at Pride Park Stadium.

The club's bid to join the FA WSL for the initial 2011 season was controversially rejected. They responded by winning the Premier League National Division, which had become the second tier, on three consecutive occasions and also collected the 2011–12 FA Women's Premier League Cup. In 2014 Sunderland were accepted into the second division of a newly-expanded FA WSL. They won the league on the final day of the season and were promoted into FA WSL 1 for 2015.


The club began in 1989 as a five-a-side team called The Kestrels and won the Women's Football Association (WFA) Yorkshire and Humberside League in 1990. Over the next decade they competed in the Northern Premier as Cowgate Kestrels, RTM Newcastle Kestrels and Blyth Spartans Kestrels.[1] In 2000 the club merged with Sunderland Ladies to become Sunderland Women's FC, after winning promotion to the top tier FA Women's Premier League National Division for the first time. The new club was originally financed as part of the established professional Sunderland A.F.C. men's club, but following financial troubles in 2004, the women's side was forced to become financially independent. Sunderland A.F.C. only provided some kit and the home ground.

In 2001–02 Sunderland won one league game all season and were relegated back to the Northern Division.[2] On Sunday 10 April 2005 they won promotion from the Northern Division as champions. In the 2005–06 season, they finished 9th in the league (then the penultimate position), but stayed up after tying a promotion/relegation playoff against Southern runner-ups Bristol City W.F.C. 5–5 on aggregate.

With the emergence of Jill Scott and Steph Houghton, the club began to develop a reputation for producing England women's national football team players.[3] On 6 May 2007, with all their games finished and only having 11 points, Sunderland were relegated after Cardiff City beat Doncaster Belles 3–2.

In Season 2007–08 Sunderland finished in 3rd position in The Women's Premier League, Northern Division, behind Champions Nottingham Forest and Lincoln City. The top 3 were almost in a league of their own as Sunderland finished 17 points ahead of 4th placed Newcastle – who only finished 15 points ahead of bottom-of-the-table Crewe Alexandra.

With team re-building completed, the 2008–09 season began with high hopes for the Wearsiders who had six England youth internationals in their ranks and had recently recruited full England international midfielder Kelly McDougall from Everton Ladies.

On 22 March 2009, Sunderland WFC reached the final of the FA Women's Cup after beating Chelsea 3–0. Goals from Williams (2) and Gutteridge ensured their place in the final against holders Arsenal at Pride Park Stadium, home of Derby County on 4 May. In the final, favourites Arsenal beat Sunderland 2–1. Despite dominating possession and creating several chances, Arsenal found it difficult to convert their opportunities. Arsenal's Katie Chapman scored in the first half, their second coming in extended 2nd half injury-time from Kim Little. However, Sunderland never gave up and scored a consolation goal from Kelly McDougall just before the final whistle. Lucy Bronze gave a superb display at right-back, earning herself the Player of the Match Award for the Black Cats.

Sunderland won promotion to the National Premier Division after defeating Preston 4–0 away in the last match of the 2008–09 season.

Back in the top flight, Sunderland exceeded expectations and topped the league for five months. They also handed Arsenal Ladies only their second league defeat in six years. However, the club's bid to join the FA WSL was rejected on commercial and marketing grounds – leading to the departure of star players Lucy Bronze, Jordan Nobbs, Lucy Staniforth and Helen Alderson.[4]

Despite the exodus of these players, Sunderland secured the FA Women's National Premier League title with two games to spare, following their victory over Millwall Lionesses on 3 April 2011. They defended the title two further times in 2012 and 2013. In 2013 they were formally integrated into the Sunderland AFC structure.[5]

In the 2014 season Sunderland entered the newly created FA WSL 2. On 26th October 2014, they were crowned inaugural champions of the FA WSL 2, beating Millwall Lionesses 4-0 on the final day of the season to finish two points ahead of Doncaster Belles.[6] As a result, Sunderland returned to the top division, taking their place in the 2015 FA WSL 1. Manager Mick Mulhern stepped down after 15 years, to be replaced by former professional Carlton Fairweather.[7]

Current squad[edit]

As of 28 April 2015.[8]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
1 England GK Rachael Laws
2 England DF Abby Holmes
3 England DF Vicki Greenwell
4 Northern Ireland MF Rachel Furness
5 England DF Stephanie Bannon (captain)
6 England DF Gemma Wilson
7 England FW Keira Ramshaw
8 England MF Kelly McDougall
9 England FW Beth Mead
10 England FW Natalie Gutteridge
No. Position Player
11 England FW Sophie Williams
13 Scotland FW Suzanne Mulvey
14 England DF Hayley Sharp
15 Northern Ireland MF Sarah McFadden
16 England MF Rebekah Bass
17 England FW Abbey Joice
19 England MF Brooke Chaplen
20 England MF Emma Kelly
21 England DF Tori Williams

Former players[edit]

For details of former players, see Category:Sunderland W.F.C. players.


With the WSL 2 trophy in 2014


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 54°49′17.990″N 1°27′19.800″W / 54.82166389°N 1.45550000°W / 54.82166389; -1.45550000