Melanie Reay: Shearer’s cousin plots Sunderland Ladies’ return to big time

Birmingham of the WSL visit Sunderland on Sunday in the FA Cup and the resurgent Wearside club are keen to make a statement

Melanie Reay, manager of Sunderland Ladies, combines her club duties with heading up Gateshead college’s women’s academy and bringing up a young son

Name the coach seconded to help Phil Neville during his first two World Cup qualifiers as England women’s manager? She is said to a famous former striker; are you able to identify him? The respective answers – Melanie Reay and her cousin Alan Shearer – may challenge quiz participants outside the north-east, but few who know their women’s football. within the latter circles Reay is instantly recognisable because the gifted and ultra-loyal coach of a Sunderland Ladies side who were summarily demoted two divisions in 2018 when the Football Association turned a revamped Women’s Super League all professional. judi bola terpercaya https://www.judibolaterbaik.co

Sunderland had just finished a good seventh but, with their parent men’s club hitting financial problems prompted by two swift relegations, they did not meet the funding criteria required for a licence to play within the WSL or maybe the semi-professional Championship.

Down they dropped into the third tier, National League North, where, despite receiving no expenses, including match fees, Reay’s players top the table and are on a 20-game unbeaten run. Birmingham of the WSL would definitely be unwise to underestimate them once they meet within the FA Cup fifth round at Eppleton in County Durham on Sunday.

“Promotion’s our overriding objective,” says Reay. “But it’s an excellent opportunity to check ourselves.”

Sunderland have submitted an application for a Championship licence to the FA and there’s cautious optimism that ought to they finish during a promotion place, the ruling body may look favourably thereon . Significantly Stewart Donald, the club’s owner, has supported the women , allowing them to share top-class facilities at the Academy of sunshine with Phil Parkinson’s League One men.

“It’s a Premier League-standard training ground and having the ability to use the indoor barn means I never need cancel sessions,” says Reay, whose squad of teachers, teaching assistants, personal trainers, students and a commuter from Africa train twice weekly. “This club features a great history and we’re really driven to urge back where we believe we belong. Our double relegation wasn’t right down to results so it hurt but we’ve moved on from the bitter disappointment of what happened. We’ve got over it; we’re on a replacement journey now.”

For a short time the women were cut adrift, excluded from the Academy of sunshine and exiled to Newcastle, but, amid an inevitable personnel churn, two constants remained: the manager and her captain-cum-key-midfielder, Keira Ramshaw.

Tiffany Harvey

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September 2022