IN HER final column of the season, Birmingham City Ladies captain Karen Carney expresses her pride at a campaign which saw the Blues come within one goal of winning the Women’s Super League 1 title and also reach the semi-finals of the UEFA Women’s Champions League, whilst also looking ahead to what next season may bring for the Solihull-based side.
“WE ALL know by now what happened in the last match (2-2 draw against Notts County) when a victory would have won us the league and also secured Champions League football for another season.
“Of course there were a lot of upset players and fans in the hours and days afterwards and it was doubly disappointing to end up third in such a tight finish – meaning we missed out on next season’s Champions League – having put so much hard work in.
“However, pride is the key word here. I won’t call the season successful, because we didn’t win a trophy and qualify for the Champions League and for long spells of the season both looked very possible, but the team can most definitely take enormous pride from what we achieved.
“I say achieved, because we punched above the weight we were expected to, we proved many critics wrong, we gave it everything we had and took the title race to the very last second of the season.
“That final day had a bit of everything and we were part of what was a fantastic advert for women’s football.”
“THIS season has also been significant for the club on a wider scale off the pitch.
“The team have most certainly earned greater respect from other teams in the Super League and we’ve made people sit up and take notice of us.
“It has been a memorable campaign for the club because our profile has been raised significantly, people know a lot more about the team, and our players and officials have really engaged with the fans and public to make them welcome at our games.
“Of course we are playing football to try and win trophies, but as a team the girls do take a lot of pride at making themselves available for people and engaging with them and that’s important, particularly for the women’s game and us specifically as we try and build something bigger and better.”
“IT’S COMMON knowledge that we don’t have anything like the budget of most other teams in our league and our manager has spoken recently about what a difference it could make to us if other businesses were able to come on board and help with sponsorship, etc.
“It would improve our training facilities, playing squad, marketing – everything really – and when you look back at this season and see how close we were it makes you wonder what some extra help would do for us.
“Could we have made the final of the Champions League with a little extra help, could we have got the extra point here and there to win the league? All I do know is we gave it everything and will continue to do so, but some increased financial backing along the way would make a massive difference.”
“I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and, as cruel as the finale was for us, we have to try and learn from it. Different players will use the experience of it all differently, but if we can learn from little things here and there it will be good.
“No doubt our rivals will all be looking to strengthen ahead of next season and some have greater financial power to do it than us. However, we have our plans and I know some discussions have taken place between the management about what might happen at Blues.
“Like every football team, there may be some comings and goings because you always have to try and progress, but I am hopeful that our squad will remain very similar and that our young players will continue to impress.”