Plymouth Argyle Ladies Football Club – PALFC
The success of the England Lionesses at this summer’s FIFA World Cup in Canada—where they reached the semi-final before cruelly being knocked out by a last-minute own goal—means that women’s football has never been more in the media spotlight. Nor has there ever been so much national media attention to the women’s game, giving more column inches and airtime to the sport and the buzz has certainly filtered down to Plymouth Argyle Ladies.
Argyle Ladies currently play in the FA Women’s Premier League Southern Division, the third tier of the pyramid scheme of women’s soccer after the Women’s Super League 1 and 2. This is their second season in this division. Last season they defied the odds to finish tenth, avoiding relegation by three points and remain Devon’s highest ranked team. So once again they will be welcoming teams such as QPR, Spurs and West Ham, as well as the anticipated ‘Dockyard Derbies’ against Portsmouth.
Retaining their FAWPL status was a great feat for Argyle Ladies as the pool of players they have to choose from is significantly less than their London dominated opponents. Most of the players join the Club via Devon Junior Minor Leagues or the Devon FA Girls Centre of Excellence. This means Argyle Ladies have one of the youngest, if not the youngest squad in the division.
But what they lack in age, they do not lack in talent or dedication. The average age of this season’s squad is 21—with the youngest being just 16 years old—and they come from the four corners of Devon and Cornwall. They play for the love of the game, for the pride of pulling on that green and white kit on a Sunday, giving up their free time to train twice a week, with some paying for the privilege themselves.
Taking charge of the team this season is Kevin Taylor, who was appointed in the summer following Kev Rose’s resignation. This is Taylor’s first appointment in women’s football: he previously worked predominantly in youth football coaching for Argyle in the Community and managing Okehampton Argyle, a role he will continue alongside his Pilgrim duties.
He is excited and optimistic for the new season, but is under no illusions how difficult it will be for his Argyle team: “It will be another tough season but I am confident about it. My aim is to make us more competitive, more difficult to beat. We only picked up two points away from home last season and a lot of that was down to fitness levels.”
Taylor’s aim is to consolidate their league position and win some silverware: “I am definitely targeting the Devon FA Senior Women’s Cup this season. I see this as something realistic that we can win and after speaking to the players I know they are desperate to reclaim the trophy.”
On the pitch, the team will be led by Argyle’s longest serving player, Katie Middleton “It’s a massive honour for me to captain Argyle Ladies. I have been involved with the team for a long time and I’m privileged to be able to work alongside and lead such a talented group of individuals who want nothing but the best for the team. Hopefully the girls feel that my experience helps them out on the pitch too!”
“Finances are always a challenge, many hours are spent away from the football field to ensure we have enough funds to compete for a season at the top levels. As much as I feel the women’s game has grown in recent years, it’s still a million miles off the men’s game”.
The challenge for the new management committee is to look at fresh ways of improving all areas on and off the pitch. As with all amateur sports, there are budgets to meet: the Ladies are entirely self-financing, relying on the generosity of sponsors for the team and players.
This season, Argyle Ladies are pleased to announce that they have secured a four figure sponsorship deal from Citybus for their logo to be on the front of the kit. Mark Collins the Commercial & Marketing Manager at Plymouth Citybus said: “We are really excited to become main sponsor for Plymouth Argyle Ladies Football Club for the coming season. It follows on from a long relationship with the men’s team and it is great to see the rise of ladies football within Plymouth, with Argyle leading the way. We hope this is the start of a relationship which will progress over the coming years and we wish Argyle Ladies the very best for the season ahead”.
Argyle Ladies are also pleased to be renewing their sponsorship link with the Royal British Legion for the poppy to be on the back of the kit again. Other sponsors include the Argyle Fans’ Trust, Blagdons Boatyard, The Family Law Co, Robert W Lynn Decorators and the Senior Greens.
Club Secretary Andrew Bellamy, says the Ladies are indebted to all sponsors: “We are very grateful for all who help the team financially. Without the financial backing of our sponsors we simply would not survive in this league. Take travelling to away matches: this season we will be travelling in excess of 4,200 miles to away games, many of which require overnight accommodation for the team and coaches. All money generated through sponsorship goes a long way to covering this great expense.”
Besides sponsorship, the committee are looking at inventive ways to increase income and at the same time raise the teams profile within the city. A recent Argyle Fans’ Trust survey showed that the Ladies team is a valued part of the Argyle family. As a result the team are very excited to be launching a new CrowdFunder initiative during September. This is an opportunity for the whole Green Army family to support the team.
The CrowdFunder project will give people the chance to pledge their support to the team on return for rewards from the club. Keep an eye out on the team’s Facebook page or on Twitter @ArgyleLFC for details of the launch.
Argyle Ladies home ground this season is again at Elburton Villa FC: games are played on a Sunday with a 2pm kick off. News about the team and fixtures can be found on their website www.palfc.org.uk
Scheduled Home games played at Elburton Villa, Haye Road, Elburton, Plymouth. PL9 8HS
Sun 30 St Nicholas LFC (FAWPL League Cup)
Sun 6 Charlton Athletic WFC
Sun 13 Brighton & HA WFC
Sun 27 Coventry United LFC
Sun 4 Portsmouth FC Ladies
Sun 25 Cardiff City LFC
Sun 1 West Ham United LFC
Sun 15 Lewes LFC
Sun 22 Activate Ladies (Devon FA Senior Women’s Cup)
Sun 6 Queens Park Rangers
Sun 17 Forest Green Rovers LFC
Sun 24 C & K Basildon LFC
Sun 31 Tottenham Hotspur LFC