Huddersfield Town Women kick off their season on Sunday and aim to build on the feel-good factor created by the England Lionesses’ success in the Euros this summer.
Club chair Alison Bamforth is seeking a winning start to the league campaign and also wants more good cup runs, particularly in the lucrative FA Cup.
The Terriers got to both the League Cup final and County Cup final last year. They lifted the County Cup but lost the other final to Southampton.
On her hopes for the coming season Bamforth said: “We’re looking to emulate our cup success from last year; we got to the Vitality Women’s FA Cup 4th round, the League Cup final for the first time and won the County Cup for the third time. The Vitality Women’s FA Cup prize money has been significantly increased this season, so a decent draw and a cup run would be fantastic!
“In the league we’ll be looking to get off to a good start, and build from there. Our first game is away to newly-promoted Boldmere St Michaels on Sunday (August 21). They are a bit of an unknown, then we’re at home to Wolves which will be a tough test.
“We met Boldmere St Michaels in the early stages of last season’s league cup, and came out on top 7-2. However, The Mikes were worthy winners of their league last season to gain promotion to tier 3 and so we certainly won’t be under-estimating them. I’m looking forward to a great game of football.”
Following on from the Lionesses’ success this summer winning the European Championships, Bamforth believes Town Women can benefit.
She said: “There is definitely a buzz around women’s football and we got a huge turnout at our junior team open training sessions earlier this summer.
“Now we’d love to see those who have just discovered women’s football joining our fan base up at the Stafflex Arena on Sunday afternoons cheering us on. It’s a bargain £5 for adults, £3 for concessions and kids go free. There is a licensed snack bar and a fantastic family (and dog!) friendly atmosphere.”
On preparations for the new campaign, Bamforth said: “The coaching team has been working hard behind the scenes over the summer, and I’ve seen some great football being played in pre-season. I can’t wait for the season to start!
“We’re still fully amateur, none of our coaches or committee are paid and our players pay annual subs to play. We are continuing to work with HTAFC to develop our relationship and the ways we can work together.
“We still have various sponsorship opportunities available for the coming season; any local companies or individual Town fans interested in supporting us should contact David Mallin (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more details.
“Glen Preston and the coaching team have been working hard on recruitment; we had a couple of players retire and move on at the end of last season.
“Glen has brought Kyle O’Reilly and Nick Hegarty on board. Both are great additions to the coaching team with a wealth of experience both on and off the field.”
Whilst Bamforth might be excited for the season ahead so too are the players. Terriers stalwart Kate Mallin insists the new additions to the squad will make it stronger and she believes the club can have a good season.
She said: “I’m really looking forward to it. We’ve made a few good strong signings and they will help to replace those who retired at the end of last season.
“Our aim is to obviously finish as high as possible in the league and also to continue our good recent form in the three cup competitions.
“The league gets tougher each year and many of the teams we play against have got strong financial backing and are able to pay their players. We’re not in that position but, as always, we’ll do our best to compete.”
Town midfielder Lauren Griffiths, 31, says her personal aim for the upcoming season is to carry on being a role model to the younger players in the squad. She says she is excited for the season and believes the Terriers can be up there fighting for the league title.
She said: “My personal aims are for consistent performances and to be a good team player. The age range in our squad is large so I see myself as a role model for the younger players and hopefully I can set a good example for what is expected of those at the club.
“I am excited for the season to get underway. We’ve had a good pre-season and signed off with a convincing win against Leeds. We are hoping for a stronger start to the season. It is a tricky first game against a newly-promoted team who I’m sure will be keen to get off to a good start.
“We always see ourselves as contenders for the league but we know we need a strong start to achieve that. We’ve got some new additions to the squad who have strengthened our chances of success this year. We will be hoping for a good cup run, and we do tend to do well in the cup each year.”
Another player ready for the off again is Serena Fletcher who said: “We’ve had an incredible pre-season and so I am excited for us as a team to showcase what we can do.
“We’ve gelled so well and brought new players in to build upon the squad. I can’t wait to hear and see the fans and hope the impact of the Euros can bring more spectators to come watch.
“I think the ultimate aim is to win the league and be consistent playing our style of play. We will have this aim for every game and keep building upon it.
“We have targets of getting far in the cups and most certainly getting to the final of the FAWNL cup and visions of winning it, we want to be better than last season.
“I want to continue to contribute to the team winning and contribute to our goals and targets for the season. I want to play consistently and keep building on becoming better each week.”
Boss Glen Preston said there was better to come from his squad this season and added: “We still don’t feel the team has hit its peak yet and we have another level to reach if we are to be successful this year.
“I don’t put a ceiling on what this team can achieve this year. It’s very clichéd but we will take things one game at a time. We believe in ourselves, we have quality right through the team and we’re a side no one will look forward to playing.
“We can’t wait to welcome our fans back to the Stafflex Arena. We all hope that England’s success over the summer will inspire a new generation of fans to come down and back the Terriers this season.
“We value every fan and we’re hoping they can be the difference this season for us.”
Boldmere St Michaels v Huddersfield Town Women FC is on Sunday August 21 (2.00) at Church Road, Sutton Coldfield, B73 5RY.