Team of the Week: More to come from Wigton’s open-age fledglings

Wigton Moor Ladies
Wigton Moor Ladies
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IN their FIRST season, Wigton Moor Ladies sit top of the league with six wins from six games. Oh and a goal difference of plus 53.

It’s as if there’s a secret to their success. And perhaps there is, with manager Brian Wilks revealing the majority of the team have been together since they were nine.

Based at Wigton Moor Juniors AFC, Wilks’ side sit top of the West Riding County Women’s Football League third division where the team are threatening to lead the chasing pack a merry dance.

Their first-ever competitive game in women’s football ended in a phenomenal 11-0 victory over Farsley Celtic Development.

Proving that this win wasn’t a one off, they backed it up with 13-0, 10-1 and 7-0 victories over Boroughbridge, Ossett Town Reserves and Clifton Rangers respectively.

A 3-2 victory over Silsden was their toughest game so far but Moor followed up the five-goal thriller with the second-most simple success yet on Sunday as Crossley AFC Ladies were beaten 12-0. It’s been the start that dreams are made of, but together with the help of assistant manager Bernard Leddy, the birth of Wigton Moor Ladies has been every inch a long-term plan.

“Half a dozen of the current crop of players have been at the club since we set up the under-9s side nearly 10 years ago,” said Wilks.

“So now the girls have grown up we now have a few girls who are 17 and 18-years-old so we fancied a go at open-age football.

“In age wise we’re a very young side in the women’s game.

“I’ve been there right from the start. I’ve seen them grow up over the years from school to a-levels now which is what most of the girls are doing.

“One girl is having a gap year before she goes off to become a doctor so she is only just the oldest player. For them it is quite a big step up to go from juniors to open-age women’s football. “We’ve got off to a very good start, so we’re very pleased from a playing point of view as we didn’t really know how we would do but we’re playing really well.

“We didn’t go into the season with many expectations, just the hope that we would do a decent job. So for us to be top now it’s a nice pleasant surprise.

“The girls are obviously very talented players and when we were a junior club we won the league and cup quite a few times in the different age groups.”

Now a first senior title looks on the cards but Wilks is refusing to get carried away with his side’s perfect start.

“It’s really early days,” said Wilks. “If we can keep our players fit, if we can keep the squad together, then we will be okay. We’ve currently got one on crutches due to ankle ligaments and our captain has on-going problems with her knees.

“But if we can keep the squad together then we will be okay. Hopefully, we won’t get too many injuries over the course of the season as I think that will ultimately be the factor on how well we do.

“Not wanting to sound clichéd but we take every game as it comes.”

And the physicality of the step up to women’s football has been the biggest shock to Wilks’ side, especially given the average age of his side is 17 or 18-years-old and they can often be playing against players with decades of experience.

He added: “With the step up we’ve got a few players injured already because of the new physical aspect.

“Once the football starts we get into it but before the game some of the players can be a bit surprised by the difference in age and physicality of their opponents who are almost double their age and they have a big physical presence. But it’s made them up their game.”

But their toughest game is yet to come. Wigton face Premier Division side AFC Gledhow in the League Cup in November and Wilks admits it will be a big ask for his players to come out victorious.

“We don’t really expect to beat them and we’ve probably got the hardest draw of the cup – a real David v Goliath game!” said Wilks. “Hopefully the players will take a lot out of them game and gain experience from it no matter what the result turns out to be.”

Wilks is resigned to the fact that he may lose a few of his players in the next couple of years with university looming for many

“It is inevitable that we will probably lose some to university in the next few years as many of them are currently writing statements and applying for places so we’re realistic that we will lose some players next season.

“But we’re hoping that we can get some more in, re-build and keep going if a few leave us.

“We are always looking to recruit new players because now they are at the age where they have weekend jobs as well which means that we have a few who can’t play on Sundays, so as a young team that is something we have to deal with.

“We used the Wigton website to try and attract new players but we didn’t see as many players coming to us as I thought there would be after the Women’s World Cup.

“I think there are a lot of good players out there; it’s just a matter of finding them ...”

Any female football players who wish to join Wigton Moor Ladies should give Brian a call on 07587143430.

FACT FILE

Division: West Riding County Women’s Third Division

Home Ground: The Recreation Ground

Manager: Brian Wilks

Captain: Charlotte Leddy

Longest Serving Player: Amy Wilks

Website: http://www.wigtonmoor.co.uk/

Facebook: Wigton Moor JFC

Twitter: @WigtonMoorFC

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