YEP Leeds Team of the Week: Tingley Athletic Reserves

Tingley Athletic Ladies. 'PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Tingley Athletic Ladies. 'PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

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Their first season in women’s football was a huge success and Tingley Athletic Reserves are maintaining their high standards this campaign.

They won promotion to the Second Division last season following a super campaign that saw them win all 16 league games, racking up a tremendous plus-132 goal difference on top of that.

Not too shabby for their first season in open age women’s football.

Tingley celebrated their 40th anniversary in July last year and have a number of clubs at all different levels from junior boys and girls to open age men and women.

Thanks to a lottery-funded grant, in 2007 the club were able to open a new clubhouse which has really helped attract new players to a variety of their teams.

Andrew Colton is the Tingley Athletic Reserves manager who explained more about the set-up of his side. “We were a junior team up until a few seasons ago. I’ve been at the club for 12 years now, from Under-8 level and I brought us up to open age last season.

“Because we were a junior side, we had to go into the bottom division last season, but when we came into the league I asked if we could move up a couple of divisions because I said that my team was too good for the third division.

“This was proven when we won every game and conceded just four goals all season, on top of reaching the League Cup final.

“However, the league officials didn’t allow us to move up a division.”

They recently suffered their first league defeat since 2010 when they faced Brighouse Town Development, but despite that setback they remain top of Division Two, two points ahead of the next best side.

There is no doubt in Colton’s mind that his side are destined for the top: “We’re very confident of getting promoted this season as well.

“We’ve found it harder this season as we lost a lot of players in the summer and had to rebuild but I have some really good players, which is proven by our league position and that we’re still in the League and County Cup.”

Following that first season in open age, a few bigger clubs came in for a few of their top players which meant they had to bring in plenty of new faces in the off-season.

“Because my players are so good, Leeds Ladies signed five of them and Doncaster Belles signed two, so we rebuilt the team this summer, bringing in 14 new players,” said Colton.

“It has been tough to make it gel and it hasn’t been easy because our games have been a lot more closer this year and the this season has been more competitive.”

This is a young but extremely talented group of players that Colton has in his ranks.

“Up until last season, I had about five girls who had gone the whole way with us for about 11 years,” he explained. “Lucy Chapman has been with us since she was four years old and she’ll be turning 19 next month.

“We’ve got a few 16-year-olds, but most are now around 18-19 and we’ve got a few in the 20s, the eldest player is 24. As we’ve come to open age, we signed on a few older ones now who have really helped guide some of the younger players.

“The only difficulty that we did find was the size and strength of some of the players that we began to face. We’ve recruited really well and with having a good name in Ladies football a lot of girls want to come and play for us.”

Tingley are able to attract a lot of good players due to their success at junior level. Having such quality players has also been a hindrance, because now top sides such as Leeds Ladies are now looking to sign their players.

It’s not just Colton’s side who have experienced success in the last couple of seasons. Tingley Athletic Firsts gained promotion to the Premier Division for the first time last season, finishing as First Division champions.

“Our first team have come on leaps and bounds and a couple of seasons ago they were close to relegation, but last season they won the division so it just proves as a club what direction we’re heading in,” added Colton.

“The Under-16s will be going into open age next season so we will have a really big pool of players, so it’s looking really good for us.”

The two sides face each other in the League Cup at the start of December, a game which Colton believes will showcase the quality the two sides have: “There isn’t much between the two sides apart from the fact that they’ve been going longer in open age football, so it will be a very interesting game with both sides wanting to win.

“I think you could put half of my team into the first team and a few of my players played for them last season when they were a few short. They got to the semi-final of the cup but we managed to go one step further and reach the final.”

This has been a phenomenal year for women’s football, with more and more girls joining clubs and Colton believes that gap between men’s and women’s football is starting to close.

“I run a boys team and have run men’s teams as well but I much prefer training women because they want more out of it and want to learn more.

“Despite the success of the World Cup, women’s football is still looked down on but we’re getting there, and 10 years ago we probably would’ve never of thought that’d we be here now.”

Anyone who would like to join Tingley Athletic Ladies should contact Debbie on 07967412415 or Andrew on 07525853011.

Tingley would also like to express their thanks to the Scarborough pub in Tingley for its unwavering support.

FACT FILE

Founded: 1974

Division: West Riding County Women’s Second Division

Manager: Andrew Colton

Longest Serving Player: Lauren Colton

Website: http://tingleyathletic.co.uk/

Facebook: TingleyAthletic FC

Twitter: @TingleyAthlet1c

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