"When you play for Leeds United, you're playing for a reason" - Leeds Ladies captain Bridie Hannon on her Whites pride

"When you play for a club like Leeds United it's not just a Sunday league team. You're playing for a reason."

Thursday, 24th October 2019, 1:48 pm
Leeds Ladies captain Bridie Hannon. (Credit: Leeds United)

Leeds United last week celebrated their centenary birthday in style.

One hundred years of memories were packed into a week-long celebration that involved both players old and new who had all been and gone through the Elland Road doors since the club's formation in 1919.

Leeds Ladies themselves brought up 30 years of existence this year, but it hasn't always been smooth running for the women's team which has undertaken a number of different guises.

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Captain Bridie Hannon, though, knows what it means to be Leeds and what the football club and its history represents to the wider community and region.

As a no nonsense defender she's a leader and figurehead on the pitch, but outside of those white lines she cannot help but burst with pride at playing for a team once again aligned with the men's side.

"It's amazing," she told the YEP.

"Over the years I've played against Leeds United a lot of times and usually been on the wrong end of the result.

"To play for them and captain them as well is a really proud moment. I lost my Dad five years ago and he never got to see me play at Leeds and I really wish he had because he would be loving it now.

"It's just such a really proud moment for me."

Leeds Ladies has taken many different forms since its birth in 1989. From reaching the FA Women's Cup final in 2006 to having its funding cut by previous owners Ken Bates and Massimo Cellino - leaving the team to become its own entity.

Current owner Andrea Radrizzani opted to reintroduced the Ladies side to the club upon his arrival in 2017, and now Hannon believes the foundations are being set for a bright future.

"We train at Thorp Arch twice a week and we play there on a Sunday," she said.

"The facilities are the best in the league. We've got access to the gym, physio and we have a nutritionist as well. It's very professional off the field and on the field that has brought some good results.

"We're wanting to go for promotion this year. The merge with the men has been really positive. LUTV come and film all of our games, we wear the player tech vests so you can see how far you have run and the impact and speed.

"Even looking from an outside perspective it's a club to be at."

The Ladies side have also started playing the occasional fixture at Elland Road, a far cry from the afternoon's spent at Garforth Town a few seasons ago.

Leeds currently compete in the FA Women's National League Division One North and sit fifth after seven outings this term.

Hannon and her team-mates, though, aren't ready to settle for what has been a positive merger as they aim their sights high on bringing elite women's football to West Yorkshire once again.

"The long term goal is to be in the WSL (Women's Super League)," she admitted.

"When you see the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea, they're teams that have been there a few years now. Obviously Manchester United have recently got a team and got straight up there.

"I think a lot of it is to do with money if I'm honest but I think Leeds United as a whole with Andrea (Radrizzani) and Angus (Kinnear), they're really keen to support the ladies and they want to get us up there as much as we do.

"They are really supportive. If we ask for anything they usually give us it. We don't ask for much as we like to be self-sufficient but it's clear to see they're wanting us involved more.

"We were invited to the centenary dinner and the player awards at the end of the season. I was nominated for goal of the season alongside Pablo Hernandez, which was quite a shock a couple of years ago.

"It's all going in the right direction and WSL is the dream. It's difficult because some of us have full-time jobs and others are students. We don't get every day to play so it's not easy.

"But all the girls have the same aim. When you play for a club like Leeds United it's not just a Sunday league team. You're playing for a reason.

"We all turn up and give it everything every week."