My daughter and I love watching women’s football. It’s time for us to spend together and get out and watch a game.
She’s really becoming interested in football and likes to watch as many games as she can.
As a fan of women’s football and Sunderland Ladies in particular, I would like to be able to take her to see them play as soon as possible.
When the new season started in late September, I checked with excitement to see if we could go to the first game of the season, at home to Burnley.
Unfortunately the game was played behind closed doors at the Academy of Light.
Some might comment that it was fair enough, first game of the season, perhaps not enough time for the club to make either the Hetton Centre or Hebburn Town COVID safe.
Since then, the subsequent home games against Middlesbrough Women and and AFC Fylde Women have both been played behind closed doors, with the home game against Sheffield FC Women also set to do so.
While myself and some of my fellow Sunderland Ladies fans at Roker Report have been quite vocal on social media about allowing fans back to attend the home games, my daughter and I were left wondering when we would be able to attend a women’s game.
As I follow a number of women’s football teams on Twitter, I noticed there was a large number of teams who were allowing fans to attend their games.
We looked at the fixtures and decided to go to Middlesbrough Women at home to Hull City Ladies.
The two sides are league rivals of the lasses.
I live in Whitley Bay, so it was a bit of a journey, but one I believed would be worthwhile.
We weren’t disappointed.
In the week leading up to the game I was able to buy my tickets from the Middlesbrough Women website - a great way for the club to ensure the number of fans does not exceed a safe limit.
We were also able to order a match programme signed by a Middlesbrough player of our choice.
We arrived at the game, which was played at Bedford Terrace, home of Billingham Town Men’s Football Club.
We were welcomed by a friendly member of the Middlesbrough Women staff - we showed her our e-tickets and we were quickly into the ground.
We had been advised in advance to wear a face mask if I was able to, there were hand sanitisers on entry and your details were kept for test and trace if required.
I collected my daughter’s signed programme from the merchandise stall and she was thrilled.
We watched a really entertaining game and socially distanced while doing so.
After the final whistle the players went through their warm down and then stayed to chat with supporters at the side of the pitch.
They were having pictures taken with fans too.
All socially distanced.
The little one had a lovely day out and we’ve returned for all of their subsequent homes games so far this season. She’s had her photo taken with the players and we’ve enjoyed some good football.
I’m aware that having Sunderland Ladies games open for fans to attend again will take work to do and organising to be undertaken.
However, I believe the club should be working towards this as a matter of urgency.
There has been very little in the way of communication on the plan to get fans back to games safely, and supporters are becoming increasingly frustrated at this.
Although my daughter is just at a young age, she is already asking when the next Middlesbrough home game is.
Women’s football is not as tribal as the men’s game and supporters will be lost to other teams.
I urge the club to communicate their plans about getting fans back to games, before it’s too late.