Letters: Belles deserve more support from Club Doncaster and the community

The World Cup has brought the realisation into our communities at large just how far the women’s game has progressed in this country.
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Moreover, in many ways it reveals a refreshing new experience for onlooking fans. No arguing with the referee, no simulations of injuries and no need for segregation of fans to avoid physical clashes between them.

However it also heightened another realisation. Women are not considered to be equals of men where sport is concerned.

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Not only are they not going to ever be paid anything like the men but major sponsors of the trappings that surround football, like the kit, even fail to bother to include a goalkeeper’s jersey in their range. They never imagined that Mary Earps would be awarded the Golden Glove for her performance in the final and throughout the tournament.

Holly Housley in action for Belles last season. Picture: Annabella Saunders-Gilbert/AHPIX LTDHolly Housley in action for Belles last season. Picture: Annabella Saunders-Gilbert/AHPIX LTD
Holly Housley in action for Belles last season. Picture: Annabella Saunders-Gilbert/AHPIX LTD

I even picked up comments in the media that the coach of the English team was so good that she ought to be considered for the English men’s team. They did not add for a ‘proper’ job but it was clear they considered the men’s game to be far more important.

Where does all this leave the Doncaster community, I wonder?

Of course we have the six-time winners of the Women’s FA Cup in our own backyard and erstwhile pioneers of the women’s game in the country, Doncaster Belles.

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How much consideration is given to Belles by our own community, I ask? Not enough I say!

We have a community stadium that was financed by Doncaster Council at the time and is now under leasehold to Doncaster Rovers. Club Doncaster owns and manages two men’s teams and one women’s club, namely Doncaster Rovers, Doncaster Rugby League Football Club and Belles.

The men all play in the community stadium, the Belles play in the outlying village of Thorne!

Why you may ask, is there such a marked prejudicial advantage for the men?

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The club no doubt will have valid business reasons for this, such as the cost of opening the stadium needs at least to be covered by the attendance money.

But really at the heart of the subject lies the fact that the women’s game is just considered to be a corollary of the men’s game.

Belles won their first game of the season 7-1 at FC United of Manchester on Sunday. Their first home game is against a club that all Rovers fans love to hate, Leeds United!

If they have to play their game in the outer fringes of our community at Thorne it will be because the men have the community stadium that day.

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I would think Belles have a opportune moment to plead their case for an upgrade from the men in charge of Club Doncaster for equal consideration to the men.

You may remember that the English FA relegated the Belles in 2017, before they were taken over by Club Doncaster, to accommodate Manchester City in the Women’s Premier League.

Belles’ players now all have amateur status, though from this season ‘expenses ‘are to be paid for the first time.

They play for the love of the game and deserve equal consideration to the men even as amateurs! The community needs to show them some more consideration too.

Brian Grainger (Doncastrian exile in Brussels)

*Adult season tickets to watch Belles are available for just £19.69 – click HERE to buy.