RR: The club have been through a view different names, first as Bromley, then Croydon, and now Charlton. How long have you been following Charlton Athletic WFC, and how did you first get into watching them?
Sam Clarke: I’ve been following them casually for as long as I can remember, but it’s only in the last few years which I started to properly support them.
The 2015 Women’s World Cup inspired me to watch more women’s football, so started following Charlton Women’s same as I did for the men’s team.
RR: We’ve seen some healthy attendance across the FA Women’s Championship so far this season. What kind of crowds does the team attract?
Sam Clarke: We’ve been looking at attendances of around 300-400 people at our home ground of the Oakwood.
RR: This league is a mix of part-time and full-time outfits. Sunderland are still part-time, have Charlton made the switch to full-time contracts yet?
Sam Clarke: The club is currently in its first season as a full-time team after transitioning to professional in the summer.
RR: How much support does the women’s section receive from Charlton Athletic as a whole? Is the coverage of the club good and does the squad get full access to training facilities, etc?
Sam Clarke: There has always been support from the club in terms of coverage, but the men’s and women’s team have only come under the same ownership again recently. Since our relegation from the Premier League in 2007, the women’s team were owned by a separate person to the men’s.
Last season, Danish-American businessman Thomas Sandgaard bought both the men’s and women’s clubs, bringing them under the same ownership. Since then we’ve seen a ‘one club’ approach taken on all fronts.
The women’s team always had use of the official club training ground, but over the summer they have been built their own building on the training ground as a result of going full time.
RR: London is a hotbed of women’s football. Who are Charlton’s main local rivals?
Sam Clarke: Crystal Palace would definitely be considered our biggest rivals, especially given the regularity in which we’ve played them over the last few seasons, and of course historical tensions on the men’s side of the game carrying over.
RR: Looking from the outside, you’ve had a great start to the season. What were the expectations of the fans before the start of the campaign and are the team living up to them so far?
Sam Clarke: I think most Charlton fans were expecting a season for the club to find its footing as a professional outfit before then pushing for promotion to the Women’s Super League.
Recruitment looked strong and many were tipping us as dark horses, it certainly feels like it could be an exciting season pushing for promotion, but with such strong teams in the division and only one promotion spot available, it certainly won’t be easy.
RR: What do you know about Sunderland Ladies, and what are your predictions ahead of this Sunday’s match?
Sam Clarke: From what I know of Sunderland AFC Ladies, they certainly won’t be a pushover but is one we’d hope to be beating at home.
My prediction is for the Addicks to continue their 100% home record with a 2-0 win against Sunderland.