Manchester City Ladies Football Club was founded in 1989 as a supporter’s football club. In August 2012 the team became officially affiliated with MCFC and they have not looked back since. They began life in Division 2 of the North West Women’s Football League and enjoyed much success throughout the 1990’s and early 2000’s. They have since been accepted into the newly reformed Women’s Super League, entering into the top division, controversially replacing the Doncaster Rovers Belles. The new league will begin this year and it looks to be very exciting indeed as City aim to push the Women’s game to new heights, fully supported and encouraged by the authorities in Manchester and Abu Dhabi. Much like the expansion into America, MCLFC highlights City’s commitment to developing the game and the club in every possible arena; “Holistic,” indeed.
To say that the City Ladies have been preparing thoroughly for this new League is somewhat of an understatement. Their inaugural opponents will be Arsenal, Birmingham, Bristol Academy, Chelsea, Everton, Notts County, and Liverpool, the reigning champions. None of those teams can be taken lightly and will provide the Ladies with a stern challenge. The Ladies will be training at the new Academy when it is completed alongside the Men’s and Junior teams.
The idea of strengthening yourself whilst weakening you rivals seems to have become a watch word for Nick Cushing’s squad. In the process of, “parking their tanks on the lawn of the women’s game,” the City Ladies have been joined by five successful and highly talented international players – four from England and one from New Zealand. Here’s a brief cut out and keep guide to City’s new signings…
Bio: Karen Bardsley signed for City from Lincoln Ladies at the end of the 2012 season on a two year deal. Despite being US born, both her parents are from the Greater Manchester area, meaning that any problems settling in will surely be short lived. Before arriving in England, Bardsley played across North America and in Sweden as well as making 34 appearances for England following a 2005 debut. She also represented Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics in London. Her wealth of diverse experience should stand her in good stead to succeed with MCLFC.
Bardsley has found herself, “very impressed by the progressive and professional approach City have implemented. The resources and training available [are] second to none.” Hopefully this is the first step in a long an fruitful relationship between player and club.
Bio: Jill Scott has been one of the outstanding players in the Women’s game for a fair while now. City signed the midfielder from Everton, a club where she won the FA Cup and League Cup with her team and many personal Player of the Year awards. Scott has also made 74 appearances for England, including as a key part of the side which were runners up in the 2009 Women’s European Championship, and was an important part of Team GB at the 2012 Olympics. As a player, Scott has all the attributes to be the ‘engine room’ for this team; as a person she has a high profile within the women’s game and will help legitimise this City team just by being there. A shrewd buy.
“I hope I can bring something to the team,” Scott said. “I’ve played over 70 times now for England and I’ve been at Everton for seven years, playing with some really good players. I hope that I can add some experience, maybe offer advice to the younger players and really feel part of the club.” Every team needs its senior players and it looks like City have found a good one.
Bio: Toni Duggan is the second ex-Everton player in the City team and, like Scott, looks to be an excellent buy. She will be one of City’s main offensive weapons having consistently been in the goals from the age of 15 internationally and domestically, including in the Champion’s League. In addition, Duggan’s youth means that she has plenty of scope to develop into an even better striker over the course of her City career. It is fair to say that a lot is expected of Duggan, but there is little doubt that she will deliver.
Duggan is not afraid of the new challenge ahead of her. “The move is a big change for me and I’m not going to lie, it’s been hard. I was at Everton from a young age and they’ve done so much for me. As I say, I can’t thank them enough but sometimes, you just need a fresh challenge and I want to better myself as a player.”
Position: Full Back/Midfield
Bio: Steph Houghton is the fourth member of City’s new quartet of England internationals and completes the team’s brand new spine. Signed from the famous Arsenal Ladies, Houghton brings with her experience of success both domestically and internationally. She had a particularly successful 2012 Olympics, scoring 3 goals from the Left Back position in four games for Team GB, scoring the winners against New Zealand and Brazil and becoming a household name. Houghton can be expected to kick on and become an even more formidable player in the coming seasons for City.
On signing, Houghton said she is, “very excited for the new season now and I want to play in as many games as I can, as well as I can. Fingers crossed, I’ll play frequently for both City and for England and we’ll have a successful first season.”
Bio: Betsy Hassett is City Ladies’ new Kiwi signing and has previously played for the California Bears, the University of California, Berkeley’s women’s team, and SC Sand in Germany’s second division. Having made many appearances for the New Zealand Football Ferns at international tournaments at such a young age there can be no doubts that Hassett has the mentality to succeed in England. She is an energetic midfielder who is eager to advance both her personal game and the popularity of women’s football back home in New Zealand. Playing for a team with such the kind of media profile Manchester City enjoy seems like an effective way to start reaching towards that goal.
Hassett seems to enjoy the idea of getting into something new at the ground floor. “I’m really impressed with the club and its program. I like the idea of being part of a side that’s entering the FA WSL for the first time.
“This way, we can start from scratch with a new style and I can play to my strengths rather than trying to adapt to an already existing and established environment.”
It is clear that MCLFC are looking to build something that lasts and the raft of new signings is just the beginning of their hunt for silverware and success. Knowing the determination of the people in charge at City, there is no doubt they will succeed.
All quotations obtained from official City press releases.
Written by Alex Timperley