Barnsley Miss Out On St James’ Park Dream Match

You may have seen Barnsley’s statement this week in relation to Sheffield & Hallamshire FA’s decision which caused the cancellation of their FA Women’s National League game against Newcastle United, a match that was due to be held at St James’ Park. 

Back in March, it was announced that the final match of the National League Division One North would be held at the historic home of Newcastle United. This was an opportunity that the Barnsley squad were understandably excited about. Many of the club’s staff and players had booked hotels in Newcastle, as had fans, friends and family members.

The governing body advised that prior to Barnsley’s 4-0 semi-final victory over Oughtibridge War Memorial on April 10th that Barnsley were made aware the County Cup Final against Huddersfield Town would take place on Saturday, May 1st at 10:30 am – A day before Barnsley and Newcastle United were expected to meet. 

Sheffield and Hallamshire County FA stated, “Unfortunately, there were no alternative dates available at the finals venue.  Therefore, reluctantly we rejected this request.” Something which is disputed by Barnsley a source within the club claiming that an alternative venue and date was found and this was agreed by both clubs taking part. 

Sadly Barnsley’s game against Newcastle will no longer take place at St James’ Park and will revert back to Northumbria University’s Coach Lane Sports Centre. Causing players, staff and fans to lose out on money they’d paid to stay overnight in Newcastle. 

While it might not have been easy, I am sure that with good communication between all parties then they could have made it happen. 

A source within Barnsley told me, “Playing at St James would have been an incredible experience for all of the girls so we are gutted it has been taken away from us in this fashion. It also feels quite disrespectful to schedule a women’s cup final at 10.30 am and on a day we never play on.”

The last point is something that wholeheartedly I agree with and the same level of importance to it as an under 12’s match. You’d never have the men’s senior final at 10:30 am so why do the same for the women? 

If the Sheffield & Hallamshire FA wanted to make the most out of the occasion then they should be finding a date where the women’s cup final can have a prime time slot and perhaps prior to the match they can settle some of their girl’s youth cup finals.

This would show that the organisation values the women’s competition and create an occasion that celebrates the girl’s game. It would see many players and parents staying on to support the teams involved. There is a strong chance that many might never have watched either of the finalists before, so it would go a long way to growing the game locally. Those players would be providing inspiration to young girls who are often lost to the game once they finish school. 

Barnsley’s Eve Marshall suggested in an open letter to the governing body, “It would at least help if Sheffield FA would acknowledge that this situation could have been handled significantly better than it has been and in fact, could have been avoided all together.” 

Ending on a positive note, Newcastle United trained at the Magpies’ first team Training Centre on Tuesday evening, ahead of their historic debut match at St. James’ Park which will still go ahead on Sunday but against Alnwick Town instead. 

Photo: @BarnsleyWFC