Crewe Alexandra Ladies Football Club (CALC) completed their 2015-16 season at the top of the North West Women’s Regional League (NWWRL). CALC remained undefeated throughout the season and were also crowned Cheshire County Cup winners back in April.
A very proud Liam Salt (Reaseheath Lecturer/Course Manager in Sports) took over as CALC First Team Manager at the start of the 2015-16 season (previously under 21s manager) after being approached by Director of Football and head coach Nick Pearce.
Both current and former Reaseheath students represented the team throughout the year including current Level 3 Public Services student Kara Townsend (goalkeeper) and former Level 3 Sports Performance students Lydia Hooley (midfielder) and Kerry Green (defender).
Read the full write up on Crewe Alexandra Ladies FC 2015-16 season below >>>
Crewe Alexandra Ladies FC finished the 2014-15 season in second position and with a squad that looked to parting. The departure of coaches and players, plus the very early exit of then new first team manager was not a smooth transition that now Director of Football would have wanted.
Although in Australia visiting family, the 2014-15 Under 21s Manager Liam Salt (Reaseheath College Sports Department) was asked by Nick Pearce to take on the CALFC First team manager’s job, he jumped at the chance and soon started work with the first team squad on his return in the August. Reaseheath College was represented well throughout the campaign, obviously with Sports Performance and Public Services lecturer/course manager Liam Salt coaching and managing the first team. On the field itself Reaseheath College was in a show of strength with current Level 3 Public Services student Kara Townsend as the ever present first team goalkeeper and previous Level 3 Sports Performance students Lydia Hooley (midfielder) and Kerry Green (defender) also representing the first team.
A very new look first team squad soon started to form with Liam promoting 4 under 21s into the first team and with good external work from Nick signing some fresh faces to the Crewe Alex outfit things started to take shape. Liam as first team manager and coach, Nick as first team coach and director of football and new to the coaching staff was Jack Albanese who joined as first team coach and sports analyst, soon started to shape the squad with trials and intense pre-season sessions working on fitness, strength and conditioning, technical work and also gelling the team as a unit. The pre-season friendlies soon started with mixed results as current players were playing in new positions, players settling in being promoted from the under 21’s and also new signings externally becoming familiar with new players, coaches, methods and surroundings.
The League campaign kicked off on 13 September 2015 at home (Cumberland Arena) versus City of Manchester Ladies FC. A positive pre-season and hard work on and off the pitch shone through with an emphatic 4-1 win which put a statement out to the rest of the league, Crewe Alexandra Ladies were here and they meant business. At this moment in time the players and coaches did not know it, but, they had just started something special, something that will probably never replicate in any of their playing or coaching careers, a whole league and FA County Cup campaign undefeated. The team pushed on through their next 4 games, winning all comfortably, scoring at will from the front line, the midfield battling and creating chances and the defence along with the Alex No.1 not leaking many goals. The Alex ladies’ first true test came 6 games in the form of Accrington Stanley at home. The Alex clinched a 3-2 win but were pushed all the way by another good footballing side, the team were a well organised, strong and cohesive machine now!
The end of November and beginning of December saw two very big hurdles in the form of Blackburn at home followed by an away fixture on a very cold Sunday at Bolton Wanderers. On both occasions the club as a whole were galvanised and every single player and coach were there for the other through two very testing encounters. The home fixture versus Blackburn, although finished 3-1 was very close match, the Alex the team that took their chances and kept their nerve. The second of these two very testing matches put the Alex up against title chasers Bolton Wanderers who were also up to this point unbeaten, with one draw against Burnley. After 2 minutes the Alex conceded from a Bolton corner and for the first 45 minutes the Alex were deservedly behind. After stern words in the dressing room and minor tactical adjustments CALFC started to dominant and create chances and with 25 minutes remaining scored twice in 8 minutes, one of the highlights of the season as celebrations on and off the pitch pictured just what this result meant in the grand scheme of things, final score 2-1.
The winter wasn’t kind to the league especially those teams situated further north and games were postponed but the club maintained as much continuity as they possibly could and trained hard, especially through some very cold and wet evenings but never gave in to the elements. An absolute credit to all players and coaches a like with some of the conditions that they trained in and when other teams around them allowed the conditions to defeat them, a true statement that hard work does pay off. The season truly got back on track in terms of frequent games towards the end of February and Crewe Alex Ladies still proudly maintained their 100% record. March saw the first FA County Cup games get underway and the Alex just as they had in the League started with a win.
The beginning of March also saw the next big challenge for the league title, a double header fixture against Burnley at home. An extremely tense encounter saw the Alex leave it late twice but demonstrated the mentality that was instilled by the coaches ‘never to give up’ as CALFC won 1-0 and 2-0. One result flowed into the next and soon the Alex found themselves in the FA County Cup Final after dispatching Stockport County Ladies FC (who are a league above) and Ellesmere Port Ladies FC in both the Quarter and Semi Finals, yet again scoring late in extra time taking them through to the Cup final in April versus Warrington Wolverines where the Ladies dominated even though going down to 10 players after the first 4 minutes. The reds on the evening of Cup final were electric and finished with a mighty result of 5-1. Another massive result in the 2015/16 season and one which had all the club thinking ‘we’re nearly there’ was the 1-1 home draw against Bolton Wanderers, after being a goal down before half time and equalising late on this again showed just what a hard working and close knit unit the first team are!
The Alex finished the season with some tricky away fixtures, Accrington, both Manchester teams, Blackburn and Blackpool, drawing 2 of these and finishing an amazing season at Blackpool inside of Bloomfield road to win and finish on a high 2-1 winners, lifting both the League and Cup trophies as worthy winners. The club’s route of progression in terms of player development was evident through the season, non-more so than the last 6 games, where a number of U21 players were called up and slotted in seamlessly to help out with injuries and suspensions. This is at the foundation of the club with the aim to progress players internally through the ranks to eventually play for the first team and so far is working extremely well due to the hard work of not only the coaches but also players alike.
The club is going from strength to strength and as it’s now moving up to the third tier of the women’s national game. The club continues to seek new sponsorship as it is a fully self-sufficient club. Not only is the club looking for more sponsorship it’s successfully making closer ties with Reaseheath College where their women’s academy will now have direct links to the Crewe Alexandra Ladies Football Club and this will be another route in to playing at a very high standard of football.
The club would personally like to thank Reaseheath College for all their support with the sponsorship and use of facilities. All support no matter how great or small all contributed to this season’s success and will continue to help develop the club in the future. The club now looks forward to the new challenges that the 2016/17 season has to bring in the FA Women’s Premier League!
Crewe Alexandra Ladies FC Manager (Reaseheath College Lecturer/Course Manager in Sports)