Doncaster Rovers Belles want permanent return to the Eco-Power Stadium

Doncaster Rovers Belles see Sunday's return to the Eco-Power Stadium as a chance to prove why they should be playing there every week.
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That’s according to skipper and seven-goal top-scorer Jess Andrew, who will lead the team out in their Women's National League Division One Midlands clash against Lincoln City in front of what’s hoped will be a bumper crowd.

Belles, who currently play at Club Thorne Colliery’s Iqbal Poultry Stadium, are offering school kids in Doncater free entry for the game alongside a paying adult.

"It’s exciting,” said Andrew, from Conisborough.

Doncaster Rovers Belles' Jess Andrew converts from the penalty spot.Doncaster Rovers Belles' Jess Andrew converts from the penalty spot.
Doncaster Rovers Belles' Jess Andrew converts from the penalty spot.
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"It’s where we want to be playing every week, it’s a good way to show what we can do in front of a crowd.”

Centre-back Andrew, who played in goal for a boys team after taking up football as an 11-year-old, added: “A lot of people have said they find it difficult to get there (Thorne), it’s a fair way to travel.

"We should be playing a lot more locally. If it’s more accessible, more people will come.”

Nick Buxton’s side came from behind to beat Lincoln 4-3 in their first game of the season in front of more than 1,000 fans at the Imps’ Sincil Bank stadium.

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On the prospect of playing in front of another big crowd at their former home, Andrew said: “We take it in our stride, it doesn’t necessarily affect us.

"The crowd is that twelfth man, or woman.”

Belles have a rich history in the women’s game and were twice crowned champions of the top tier.

They have also won the FA Cup on six occasions, having finished as runners-up a further seven times.

But the rise of the women’s game has seen them left behind without the investment other clubs have benefited from and they currently compete in the fourth tier.

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Andrew and her teammates train twice a week and play matches on Sundays.

None of them are paid.

Regardless, Belles are second in the table, ahead of several teams who are able to attract players by offering money.

“We purely do it for the love of it and the people you are around,” said Andrew, who joined the club for a second spell in 2020.

"It’s like a dysfunctional family.

"Knowing they are going to be there after a stressful day gives you an incentive.”