Roker Report: Sunderland and Aston Villa have a long rivalry in women’s football dating back at least as far as the early 2000s. How long have you followed Aston Villa Women, and what got you interested in following them in the first place?
Adam Reapa: I have followed Aston Villa Women since 2014 and remember some of our fantastic games against Sunderland. Cup games and FAWSL 2 ones, I still remember a young Beth Mead bouncing around in bar after game, she always scored against us. We used to enjoy our away days to Sunderland as well but haven’t been to one since 2018 in a game we lost 3-2 at Mariners Park. We try and go home and away games as much as possible since the 15/16 season. I first went to see a game when we played Birmingham City and was hooked instantly. With players like Maisie Baker, Olivia Fergusson, Maddy Cusack and so on it was always wanting to get down to see a game and have followed them ever since.
Chris Freville: I’m actually a very recent supporter of Aston Villa Women even though I’ve had a soft spot for them for several years. I also follow Birmingham City but the club let me down big-time after making a number of promises last season to ourselves as commercial partners which they never followed through with. I cannot say any more for contractual reasons but one resolution which I’m very happy with is crossing the city to Aston Villa where I’ve been made very welcome.
RR: There’s been a lot of change at the club over the last couple of years - gaining promotion and then consolidating in the WSL. Are Villa fans happy with the job that Carla Ward is doing so far this season?
AR: It is an intresting conversation to think of the changes we have gone through less than 5 seasons ago we was battling to stay in FAWSL 2 in a battle with Oxford with Managers that only could do what they could with what they had avaliable. There is alot that could be said for this time and how it came about in the WSL, but I digress.
Now, onto Carla Ward, it’s an intresting topic because i am a big fan of her management style and thd way she comes across in the media. She is a proper manager and with her team she can only improve and grow but she is also fantastic with providing and growing an experience for the fans with is so improtant. If you’d of offered us 10 points above relegation at this stage of the season we would of bite your hand off for sure and Carla is also starting to give our youth a chance in the Continetal Cup.
CF: I would say every single Villa fan I’ve spoken to are absolutely delighted with Carla Ward. She’s already achieved far more in the first third of the season than the team did at this stage last season. The great thing about Wardy is that she’s got everyone’s backs and will stand up for both the players and the fans. Defensively we’ve been outstanding but hopefully we’ll see more of the old Carla Ward of attack, attack, attack as we have one of the lowest stats for shots on goal.
RR: The Conti Cup is generally used as a way of getting minutes in the legs of younger and fringe players - what kind of line-up are you expecting to see this Sunday?
AR: You’ve come to the right person with this question, how long do you have? Our group chat brings this up before games but none more than the continetal cup. We had 5 debuts from the Academy against Sheffield United. Personally i can’t speak highly enough of them and those that are pushing against the door to the firsts. We wish we could see them play more but when we do they never disapoint. But as well as the youth it also gives fantastic players like Sian Rogers and Jodie Hutton the chance to get minutes they truly deserve. I believe it will be a mixture of youth and experience. We hope to see our Academy players in and around the team for sure. Molly Lemon is a player that missed out on being in the team but one that it wont be long before she is in and around the first team.
CF: I’m hoping Villa will give playing time to more of the Academy players. Last time there were 3 current Academy players in the starting lineup with another 3 on the bench who all made late appearances. Hopefully they’ll all get more minutes as we have nothing to lose and can’t qualify. I also expect the fringe players to be given another opportunity too.
RR: There are some big names in the Villa squad - many readers will know Hannah Hampton and Anita Asante - but who are your favourite players at the minute?
AR: I cut down the question before as i noticed it led into this one as well. So i’m sure many other fans will be the same and say how much they love all their players but we will always have our favourites. You will often see me in one of three shirts, Chloe Arthur, Ramona Petzelberger.
But my overall favortie and don’t mind admitting i’m a bit of a fanboy as well which is no suprise to anyone who knows me and will be the name on the back of my shirt on Sunday in the North East.
Our #27 Deearna “Missy” Goodwin is a player that plays with her heart on her sleeve and a smile on her face. Totally smashing it in the Academy games since her return and has now made her debut for Villa in the Sheffield United game. Can’t talk highly enough enough about her and her future.
CF: To be honest I have so many favourites. There are actually 11 ex-Blues players in the Villa first team squad so I feel very much at home. If I have to give names then Sarah Mayling is definitely one of them as I’ve got to know her really well since first sponsoring her in 2017. She’s a very versatile player who can play almost anywhere in the eleven. She’s now playing regularly at full-back but her real strength is in supplying the crosses for the assists so I’d like to see her further forward on the wing again. Hopefully an England call-up isn’t too far away.
RR: Will you be making the journey up to the north east, and what do you think the score will be?
AR: We will be making the journey up and staying over the night before in Sunderland.
Me and the rest of the Aston Villa Women’s Supporters Group will be having an Christmas Party of sorts the night before. Really looking forward to the game because it is always a fantastic day with great people that work and are involved with the club. People like Jon Hume, Colin Lock and Chris Fryatt but also the staff up there are always really welcoming when we travel. The score is a tough one obvious but we will want a win of course so i will go with a 1-3 win for Villa with a Missy special. But i am sure it will be a close game for sure.
CF: A few of the fans, including my very supportive wife Teresa, are coming up the night before so we can make a weekend of it. We always enjoy the socialising side of football. It will be a very tight game but hopefully Villa will edge it 2-1.
RR: If you could be granted one wish for the future of Villa Women, what would it be?
AR: I think the obvious one would be silverware to win, WSL, Continental Cup, FA Cup but a long run in the WSL without being in a relegation battle would be nice. But also if we could sign Jana Gutierrez I’d be very happy as well, hey Carla?
CF: I’d like to see Villa Women become established in the WSL long-term. Birmingham have always been the top club in the Midlands, rightly so, but Villa are now in good hands and have very ambitious plans so it would be tremendous for the region to see both clubs do well.