Great news today for Doncaster’s premier football club today. Nope, not the Rovers, but the much more successful Doncaster Rovers Belles. Today the Football Association announced the eight founder members for the Women’s Super League and delightedly, and deservedly, Doncaster Rovers Belles were amongst those chosen. The Belles will line-up alongside Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Everton, Birmingham City, Bristol Academy and Lincoln Ladies in the new league which is set to launch in the Summer 2011.
The Belles are one of the most established women’s football clubs in the country and though only officially joining forces with the Rovers a few years ago, they have a long tie in with the town’s professional side. The original Belles side was formed by female workers, ticket sellers and turnstile operators, from Rovers’ old Belle Vue ground and from that humble beginning went on to become one of the dominant forces in women’s football in this country. The Belles were founder members of the Women’s Premier League in the early 90s and are one of only two non-London clubs to lift the title, winning it in 1991-92 and 1993-94. Both of those league triumphs were part of double winning seasons for the Belles who also lifted the Women’s FA Cup in those seasons as well as four other occasions.
The acception into the new Super League is great news for the Belles as it guarantees the club at least £75,000 worth of funding from the FA for the next two years. For a club who came close to going bust as recently as last season, the secure investment is vital to help the Belles remain a focal point for the community’s female footballers. The Belles will also be able to reach out to a wider audience too with broadcaster ESPN having signed up to broadcast live coverage of the new league once it gets underway.
Speaking to the Doncaster Free Press website club Chairman Jonathan James (sadly not the Jonathan James of shoe store fame) said; “This is great news for the club, great for the players and fantastic for the town. The Belles have been associated with women’s football in this country for more than 40 years and long may it continue.” James continued, “I want to thank everyone who has supported our club over the years and helped to keep us going last year. We’ve now been given a bigger platform on which to play the game, but if we keep doing the things that have got us this far, then this club should continue to roll for many years to come.”
Long time Belles manager and former Doncaster Rovers player John Buckley was understandably delighted for the news; “It’s a great step forward for the club. All the hard work has come to fruition and it’s up to us now to take our game to the next level.”
The only disappointment from this great announcement is that it has gone completely unreported on the Doncaster Rovers website thus far. In his interview with the Free Press James kindly refered to the welcome boost and added exposure this will bring to what he called “the Doncaster Rovers brand”, and yet the Rovers brand itself has failed to acknowledge one of their most successful aspects. You should understand we don’t actively seek ways to criticise the Official club website, but sometimes the club make it all too easy.