Many of you are probably looking at the date and thinking that this seems a bit late to be sharing our 2021/22 awards and you are probably correct. We can only blame the distraction of the Women’s Euro’s followed by starting a role with Moneyfields FC Women – taking over their media channels and building an U18 side – and then Christmas and the financial costs that incurs.
Hopefully you’ll agree that these beautiful trophies are worth the wait and that the recipients are worthy winners. This year we opted for a white logo to pay tribute to the Lionesses and their European Championships victory by making them white instead of our signature red colour.
Team of the Year 2021/22 – Southampton FC
Before you come at us demanding why the Lionesses didn’t pick up the trophy, don’t worry about them, they did ok when it comes to awards for last season. Our panel were in agreeance that the achievements of Saints needed to be recognised. The club took their first steps towards promotion to the Championship by clinching the National League Southern Premier Division in front of a record crowd and by beating their bitter rivals Portsmouth at St Mary’s Stadium.
Much has rightly been made of the bottleneck which allows for only one of the Northern and Southern Premier Division champions to earn promotion to the FA Women’s Championship. Both Saints and Wolverhampton Wanderers had posted near-perfect league campaigns and whoever failed would be rightly devastated. Of course, we all know that it was Saints who were triumphant thanks to a single goal from Sophia Pharoah.
This wasn’t the only piece of silverware to make its way to Staplewood last season, the side also clinched a league and cup double with a comfortable 3-0 win against Huddersfield Town in the National League Cup.
Staying within the women’s and girl’s section of the club, the Development Squad clinched their respective FA Women’s National League Reserves South-West title dropping points in only one game – a 1-1 draw away at Bridgwater United. They also matched their senior side with a National League Cup victory, supplemented with a Southampton Divisional FA Cup win against Eastleigh.
So while the Lionesses did well, I think we can safely say that Saints have dominated at every level and are fully deserving of this award.
Lionesses Performer of the Year 2021/22 – Beth Mead
Normally we base our player of the season award on club and (if relevant) international performances but being that it was such a historic season for the Lionesses, we thought we’d recognise their achievements by highlighting the one player who we believe made a contribution that was pivotal in the success. Of course, this was not an easy task and we are open that there were multiple worthy winners from within Sarina Wiegman’s squad.
Beth Mead featured in all of England’s six games, was named player of the tournament and was the competition’s top goal scorer with six goals and five assists. She also scooped a host of other accolades including winning the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.
While it wasn’t an easy decision, we feel that we have made the correct one.
Women’s Football Podcast of the Year 2021/22 – Two Girls Talk Balls
The women’s football podcast market used to be quite a niche one with only a few options but these days we are spoilt for choice. There is a lot of great podcast content almost a bit too much as I struggle to stay up to date with all my favourite shows each week.
Charlotte and Tamsin’s podcast is one of the more fun available. You can expect quality analysis of the Women’s Super League along with a lot of laughs. I believe that listening to an episode of TGTB is like you’re sat with friends in a pub, the office or at a match discussing football with friends.
If you aren’t already subscribing then make sure to, you will not be disappointed. Find them on all good podcast suppliers.
Women’s Football Journalist of the Year 2021/22 – Emma Sanders (BBC Sport)
After studying at the University of Salford, Emma found herself a home at the Liverpool Echo covering non-league football and cricket. In 2018 she began her career with the BBC where she produces content for the BBC Sport website – specialising in live text coverage of the men’s and women’s game.
She is also no stranger to independent fan media, including Redmen TV and Only One United, and will give up her own time to support these channels.
Emma has emerged as one of the most respected women’s football journalists in the country and is the go-to person for transfer rumours and all breaking news. For me, Emma sees the value of growing the women’s game by talking about football first and making sure that it is given the same level or respect and scrutiny as the men’s game.
Natalie Burrell from Only One United told me, “I’ve known Emma since 2020, around covid times, and she was very supportive and encouraging of fan-led media and supporting me on my journey of growing our YouTube audience. I believe her work in women’s football has seen an increase in coverage during transfer windows and press conferences for WLS clubs.”
The Game Changer Award 2021/22 – Girls on the Ball
Sophie Downey and Rachel O’Sullivan first launched Girls on the Ball in 2012 as a passion project. Back then I am sure that they didn’t expect to be living the dream of so many by being paid to cover women’s football.
Fast forward to 2023 and their Twitter account boasts over thirty-nine thousand followers, this is the largest following of any independent women’s football media within the UK. During the Euros, the pair partnered with 90-minute football to cover the competition. While you’ll also find Sophie writing for the guardian and co-writer for the Guardian Sport’s excellent ‘Moving the Goalposts’.
Sophie and Rachel have been supporting women’s football throughout the pyramid and not just at its peak. I don’t think they will ever really understand the positive impact that they have made to grow the women’s game. Most of all they’ve always taken the players seriously and looked to share their stories at a time when most media outlets ignored them. They are huge inspirations of mine and they deserve every success they receive.