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Club News

A potted history of United's Ladies

17 September 2016

The Ladies have had FA approval to change their name from Sheffield United Community Ladies in this, their 15th consecutive season in open age women's football.

Understandably there is an extra level of excitement and optimism within the team at the start of this season since the announcement of the association with United was made.

Team media man of 10 years, Dave Smith, reflected: "The players in the girls and ladies sides of the club have always had a great sense of pride wearing the United shirt and badge. Many of our players and indeed managers of the age groups over the years have been genuine United fans. This has helped create a sense of responsibility to be as professional as possible, given the club's strictly amateur status."

The girls and ladies club, Sheffield United Community Ladies, as it was known, have a proud history as it was originally formed by United legend Tony Currie in the 1990s as part of the 'United in the Community' project. This gave the opportunity for local girls to get involved with the rapidly expanding sport of women's football. Andy Keenan was a particularly important part of the project and entered the first girl's team under the United Community banner into the South Yorkshire League in 1998.

More junior age groups were added as time went on and by 2002 an opportunity came to enter open-age (adult) football when local team Sheffield Inter were about to fold. United stepped in to take them over and take their place in the East Midlands Premier League.

This was great news for existing local players of a United persuasion to finally be able to choose to wear the red stripes. One such new recruit was Rachel Ruddach, who was happy to leave Sheffield Wednesday and drop down two divisions to be part of the new team. Rachel is still playing for United today and is the team's record appearance holder after spanning the entire 14 full seasons played to date.

The women's team grew and in 2005 caused a stir by knocking Wednesday out of the County Cup and reaching the final where it was no disgrace to lose to top flight Doncaster Belles.

The 2005-06 season remains United's perfect season winning every league and league cup game played to gain promotion to the old Midland Combination. Top scorer Jodie Snelson scored a remarkable 75 goals that season and went on to be a leading goalscorer for Lincoln City and Sheffield FC. The 'double' was completed with a League Cup final victory over Steel City Wanderers.

Following seasons were a rollercoaster, a successful reserve team was added but a number of players were lost to rival clubs in leagues above and a rebuilding project was put in place.

Since 2008 the first team have only really had three managers and a great period of stability has ensued. The 2009 League Cup was secured, as was the Charter Standard. Junior teams have also enjoyed success, particularly the 2007 U12s team, who won their Sheffield and Hallamshire league nearly every year up to and including their completion in junior football with the 2013 title as an U18s team. That team was under the guidance of Tony Santoro, who now is club secretary.

The senior team gained promotion in 2012 having won the last 16 games of the season to clinch another League and Cup double, thus returning the club to Combination League level before the pyramid restructure in light of the creation of the Women's Super League.

For the 2014 campaign, United were put into the FA Premier Northern League One but had a poor season and were relegated for only the second time in their history.

A ground relocation to Swallownest Miners Welfare in 2015 coincided with a new season back in the North East Premier. Manager Dan O'Hearne's team finished fifth before the decision to move regions and return to the old happy hunting grounds of the East Midland Premier was made.

So the new season is underway with extra optimism with the new association with the Blades

"The ladies have been given an excellent opportunity to represent the club in its full capacity. We will be working harder than ever to repay this faith shown in us by hopefully bringing success to the club in the near future and beyond," said manager O'Hearne.

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