After attending last year’s FA Women’s National League (FAWNL) Plate and Cup Final day, where Forest won the Plate against AFC Wimbledon and Saints defeated Huddersfield Town in the Cup, I wondered whether the Northern Premier Division was stronger than its Southern counterpart.
Myself and a group of panellists thought that we’d try and answer that question. Inspired by the NBA East and West conference All-Star Match, we thought that we’d do something similar by compiling a FA Women’s National League North and South All-Star team.
It was a lot of fun so we thought that we would return to the idea again this season. The only stipulation in collating our line ups is that we can only include a maximum of two players per club in the starting eleven but a third could be added on the bench.
The reality is that once you start to put these teams together it is a much more difficult task than you think it would be when you begin.
While considering players to include we also had to consider the balance of the team, so we hold our hands up, we know that there are amazing players who are not in the line up but we couldn’t fit everyone in.
This year we have gone one step further, with the National League Division One going from strength to strength we decided to add a third team in the mix, combining the best talent from the whole fourth tier. Although when we tried to do that we realised that it was impossible to agree on who made the cut so we decided to create a team from each of the four divisions.
Drop us a line on social media and let us know who you believe would come out as the FAWNL All Star Team 2022/23.
Returning to the squad from last year’s team are Amy Sims (Derby County), Tammi George (Wolves) and Faye McCoy (AFC Fylde).
Nick Andrews-Gauvain’s One To Watch: It was a tough call to make for player to watch especially with talented players like Eve Priestley (Burnley) who broke into our team this season and Tammi George who the Wolves faithful rave about and have nicknamed the “Queen of Molineux” after her performances there this season. In addition, it says a lot about Mariam Mahmood’s talent for her to stand out in what has been a disappointing season for West Brom.
However, the player we have gone for is a player who has broken into our squad this season, played most of her games outside of the “Big three” clubs, and is an England youth international who has earnt a move across Staffordshire to Wolves – Beth Roberts. The rapid attacking full back is becoming a mainstay of Macca’s starting eleven and a firm fan favourite with her link-up play with Beth Merrick on the left-hand side of the pitch. With Wolves likely to be challenging for the title next season she will be a player to watch going forwards.
Five of the team are no longer eligible after competing in different divisions. While six of the squad play for Oxford United, including the only player returning from last year’s team, Leah Burridge.
Daisy Passmore’s One to Watch: With the array of talent across the Southern league it’s hard to choose only one player. However, throughout the entirety of the season, Carly Johns has not stopped scoring goals. The forward totalled fifteen and shared the FAWNL Southern Premier Division’s Golden Boot. Despite Oxford finishing third in the league this season, they’ll have their eyes set on the trophy next season and having a prolific striker such as Johns may well help them to do that.
We would love to know who you think would win if these teams were to ever line up together? Or perhaps you think that there is a more talented group of players captured within Division One regional leagues.
Division One North
Emma Hickson’s One to Watch: Durham Cestria’s Ella Wilson has taken to her first full season in senior football by storm. Operating as a left back her technical prowess has shone, and having been on England’s radar since she was thirteen years old it’s clear to see she has a bright future ahead, deceptive with both feet, calm and composed on the ball, pace & strength the 17-year-old has notched 4 goals in 27 starts for the club picking up four Opposition Player of the Match awards along the way and played a key part in Durham’s deadly defensive record this season.
Division One Midlands
Richard Clark’s One to Watch: Zoe Creaney. Almost everything Moors do goes through Creaney. She’s good with the ball at her feet, able to keep possession and dictate play, as well as being able to score goals from distance or from set pieces, where her height makes her a significant threat. Out of possession she reads the game well and doesn’t mind a strong tackle or two!
Division One South East
Eddy Cooper’s One to Watch: Sammy Rowland joined Hashtag United this season and initially struggled to recover from a torn meniscus, but there was no stopping her when she got going! This season Sammy’s goal-scoring accolades have kept mounting up! As the club’s top scorer, she bagged 38 goals in 24 games (a goal every 49 minutes) in a season which saw the Tags earn promotion into the FAWNL Southern Premier.
Division One South East
Stu Barker’s One to Watch: When Moneyfields were promoted to the National League many outside of the club would not have expected them to have finished above established teams like AFC Bournemouth but a run of thirteen games unbeaten after Christmas saw Karl Watson’s side finish in third place.
One of the stalwarts of that run was midfielder Charley Wilson-Wilton, she is a fierce competitor, leads by example and was credited as being a huge support to the young players coming through into the first team. Wilson-Wilton was also recognised by her opponents and was named their Player of the Match on six occasions.