Welcome to the very first weekly update from the Bristol City Women Supporters Club.
I would like to say how delighted I am for being asked by FA Women’s Super League Full-Time to write a weekly article from the point of view of our ‘Bristol City Women Supporters Club’, even if this opening piece comes just days after after our record 11-1 league defeat against Arsenal.
Even though I was unable to attend, I did catch the the first half on the excellent FA player. My heart did go out to our number one fan and Bristol City Women gateman Martin Radford who was at Boreham Wood on Sunday and also at the 7-0 defeat against The Gunners at the same venue 10 days prior. Martin was alongside our extremely dedicated supporter Justine Vanwynsberghe who travelled all the way from her home in Belgium for one of her regular trips to support the girls. Martin can count the number of times on one hand that he has missed a game since 2012.
First let me introduce ourselves. We are a new supporters’ group only formed late last season, partly on the back of Bristol City Women’s decision to rebrand the club into ‘The Robins’ and away from ‘The Vixens’ name tag which many of us are against. Even now, we still refer to the team passionately as The ‘Vixens’. Another factor for our launch was the fact that there hasn’t been a supporters’ group at the club for three or four years. I felt we needed something more organised for our loyal band of passionate fans that have been scattered around the ground in recent seasons, unable to create an atmosphere for the players. We now have an expanding songbook full of songs that we sing and chant at every home game and on selective away days to help get the players going.
We have now grown in numbers in terms of followings on social media platforms Facebook and Twitter as well as group members at the ground. One of our most dedicated members Shahan Miah, who does a lot of work on our Twitter page, designed our lovely badge which includes a strong reference to the Vixens which is a big part of our identity.
Even though it has been a testing time on the pitch, we recently received glowing praise from the Bristol City Women Secretary Rosie Hadrill for the atmosphere which we generated at the recent home game against Manchester City that was televised live on the BBC. At one stage, Wales national team head coach Jayne Ludlow who was commentating said she was enjoying our singing so much that she wanted to join in. Following that game we also got to present a cheque to the value of £125 to Steph Houghton that our supporters’ club had raised for ‘The Darby-Rimmer Foundation’ which was set up jointly by her husband Stephen.
Despite there being limited facilities for supporters at our Stoke Gifford Stadium home, we have made local pub ‘The Beaufort Arms’ our own which is ideally located next to Bristol Parkway train station and a five-minute walk to the ground. We meet up there before and after games to discuss all things Bristol City.
We have also started selling our supporters club pin badges at matches so if you are ever at the Stoke Gifford Stadium, please come and grab one from me.
Like I have said, it has been a very hard season so far on the pitch and including recent drubbings from Arsenal and Manchester City. We have not won in the FA Women’s Super League in 14 games, a run stretching back to January when we beat Yeovil Town 2-1 and we have a huge home game this Sunday against Birmingham City. The players will do well to remember our last game against them, a 1-0 victory thanks to Gemma Evans’ headed goal at the SportNation.bet Stadium in mid-January which was Marc Skinner’s final match as Blues boss before he departed for Orlando Pride. It was quite possibly our last ‘complete’ performance. If we can put in a similar effort this time around, it will give our loyal vocal following something to really shout about in what has been a very tough season. If that first league win of the season does come on Sunday and you are in The Beaufort after the game please be warned, it will be bouncing!
Please come down if you can as we need all the support we can get. I’ll be back next week when we can hopefully reflect on three points.
Rich Paish (founder of Bristol City Women Supporters’ Club – @BCWFC_SC