Today, Sunderland announced a new sponsorship deal for its Ladies team with haircare brand Wash & Go signing up for the remainder of the current season.
Excellent news for the Lasses who haven’t received much in the way of external help in recent times.
Despite finishing 7th in the 2017/18 Women’s Super League and a staggering 14 points clear of the solitary relegation spot, Melanie Copeland’s side dropped two divisions following an FA restructure.
Part-timers Sunderland were told the only way they could remain in the top flight would be to switch to an expensive full-time setup and meet the FA’s new requirements.
However, the club’s much-maligned former owner Ellis Short couldn’t (or wouldn’t, you decide) shell out the money required to cement Sunderland’s fully deserved place in the top division.
Football and sport, by definition, is supposed to be meritocratic — otherwise, what’s the point of playing?
Can you imagine a scenario in the men’s game whereby Burnley were forcibly ejected from the Premier League and made to play in League One despite finishing mid-table? Simply unthinkable.
Although promotion to the second tier looks unlikely as leaders Blackburn run away with the league, Copeland’s new team are going well and sit third.
Sunderland’s likely top-four finish will bear no reward as only the division’s top side is granted the opportunity to face the Southern Division champions in a promotion playoff.
Women’s National League Northern Division table as of February 7, 2019.
I count myself extremely lucky to be paid to watch the Ladies and announce their home games at Hetton’s Eppleton Colliery Welfare Ground on Sunday’s.
It’s great fun and I enjoy every second, I’d encourage fans of the men’s team to come along and try it for yourselves.
The standard is superb and Sunderland boasts some extremely exciting and talented players, making the small admission fee (a couple of quid) an absolute bargain.
Captain Kiera Ramshaw pulls the strings in the middle of the park with her unique brand of clever scheming and accurate passing, she takes a mean set-piece, too.
Free-scoring powerhouse striker Bridget Galloway rarely goes a game without finding the net and looks an absolute nightmare to defend against.
At the back, ball-playing central defender Amelia Kemp remains ridiculously composed under pressure and comfortable in possession, regularly springing attacks with some incisive passing.
After the game, players are always available to sign programmes for youngsters and are most generous with their time in a way that is sometimes missing in top-level men’s football.
Hopefully, this one-for-all attitude will, in time, help inspire the next generation of footballers and fans.
A strong and community feeling permeates afternoons spent watching Ramshaw & Co and, with that, you’ll also find value in the stands.
The Ladies attract a modest crowd compared to their male counterparts, admittedly, but you’ll still find passionate regulars like Ian Todd, Jon Hume and countless other friendly faces whose names I haven’t learned yet or escape me (sorry!).
Not to mention club’s friendly steward, Maurice Wake, and social media guru and coach Mark Craggs who are both always available for an insightful chat.
Fast-paced football played with passion, what better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than supporting Sunderland?
Come and join in the fun. Bring your son or daughter, your wife or husband, your friend, or come along by yourself for a chat, you won’t regret it.
We’re next at home against Hull City on the 17th of February, kick-off is at 2:00pm at Hetton Colliery Welfare. DH5 9NE.
Keep up-to-date with the Lasses progress on SAFC.com and the Sunderland Ladies Twitter account.