Roker Report: Bristol’s women’s team have had several incarnations, and have featured in the Champions League. How long have you followed the team?
D-M Withers: I’ve followed since 2011 - the inaugural WSL season.
Dan Carter: This is my first season covering Bristol City Women and also my first following the club. As I’m local to Bristol I’ve been aware and taken an interest in the club for a while.
RR: How would you assess your start to the season?
D-MW: Uneven. Lost 2, drawn 1, won 1. I think we risk losing momentum over the next few days, especially as we’ve got Sunday’s game against your tricky Sunderland side, then an away trip to Charlton, who are inconsistent, but definitely capable of hurting us. Anyone can beat anyone in this league, however, so we’re always in for a chance. I prefer the competitive aspects of this league - the WSL is grim when you are on a budget!
DC: It’s been an up and down start to the season, but that’s to be expected with the huge turnover this summer. There’s plenty of talent throughout the squad so I think over time the results will come over time.
RR: Do you feel that this season will be one of consolidation or are you hopeful of promotion back to the WSL at the first attempt?
D-MW: Yes exactly, consolidation is the best we can hope for, I think. And keeping a team together over a few seasons so we can meaningfully build back better.
DC: I think the aim will be to be in contention from promotion but it might be a good opportunity to consolidate after the huge turnover since relegation. I think most fans would be happy with a season of safety.
RR: You played your home games at Twerton Park, the home of Bath City FC, last season, but this season are playing at the Robins High Performance Centre. Do the women receive a good level of support from Bristol City men’s club?
D-MW: It’s getting there, I’d say. We feel more integrated at the Robins High Performance Centre, that’s for sure. I think having a women’s team is good for the Bristol Sport corporation - it’s a very public way they can signal their ESG [Environmental, Social & Governance] credentials. City Women add important value to the club, in other words, that isn’t necessarily financial.
It’s a work in progress, I think. Considering the uneven playing field in women’s football in general, we seem to be making baby steps toward progress. But it’s fragile and may change, season to season.
DC: I think there’s a huge amount of support from the men's team. The main purpose of playing at the training ground was to bring all the sides and academy together under one roof.
There’s been a number of men's players at games this season including Kasey Palmer and Tyreeq Bakinson last Saturday. Nigel Pearson has also been at games and I think there’s a lot of fans that wouldn’t have made the trip to Bath but have gone over to the training ground.
RR: The men are nicknamed The Robins, the women The Vixens… why’s that?
D-MW: The women are also nicknamed the Robins. We used to be called the Vixens but the club renamed the team with Bristol City’s rebrand in 2019. Some of the fans kept using the name Vixens, to demonstrate their unhappiness with the lack of consultation with the fanbase about the change of name. For me, personally, they will always be Vixens, but I tend to say ‘come on you reds’ more these days!
DC: Bristol City women haven’t always been tied to Bristol Sport. They started as a Rovers women’s side so they’re known The Vixens and Bristol more than Robins or City.
RR: Finally, which BCWFC players should we be looking out for on Sunday?
D-MW: Satara Murray has been our best player this season, by quite a long way. Brooke Aspin should be back from her suspension after being sent off at Liverpool - we missed her against Durham. She’s a great talent, and only 16. Abi Harrison has been fantastic this season - a real workhorse with the ability to conjure something out of nothing.
DC: I’m also a big fan of Satara Murray. She’s a very quick centre back that has looked very impressive this season and is difficult to beat in a foot race. I also think Abbie Harrison could cause problems. She’s a striker that scored an incredible goal at home to Lewes this season from 40 yards and has that ability to create a goal out of nothing.