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Blackburn Ladies v Sheffield United Women - Barclays FA Women’s Championship

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Lasses Fan Focus: Blackburn fans give us the lowdown as Sunderland visit Lancashire this afternoon!

Ahead of Sunderland’s match against Blackburn Rovers, Charlotte Patterson spoke to superfans Lindsey Lewis, Lee Hoyle and Poppy about their fandom and today’s game.

Photo by Charlotte Tattersall - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

Lindsey Lewis and her family try to get to as many games as they can, following both the men’s and women’s teams home and away. They organised the sponsorship of the whole team back in the 19/20 season through a fan crowdfunding campaign, raising around £6000. They are well respected by the club and set a standard that we should all follow.

Roker Report: How would you rate the Blackburn Ladies season so far? Over-performing, underperforming or just what you expected?

Lindsey Lewis: I think the general consensus from Gemma and the players is they expected more from the season. They continue to work hard and have had a few close results which could have gone either way. Last season they finished on 18 points and this season they have 14 points from 17 games. I think the disappointment is some quality has been added to the squad and the team have also retained some of their more experienced players but that hasn’t translated into results. However, there have been injuries to key players and I think overall we expected a mid-table finish

RR: Who have been your top performers this season? Are there any youngsters who’ve broken through into the first team?

LL: I’m biased as she is my favourite player but for me the team is led by Tash Fenton and when she plays well the team plays well. Everything goes through her. She is everything I love in a player, loves a tackle, drives the team forward, tracks back and provides real moments of quality. She had built a fantastic partnership with Emma Doyle who unfortunately has ruptured her ACL.

Alex Brooks has been fantastic in goal and also does fantastic work in the community. Annabelle Blanchard is another player I’ve enjoyed watching this season and can change a game. I felt she did this when she came on as sub against Aston Villa away which for me was one of the results of the season for the ladies.

Kayleigh McDonald has also recently returned to the starting 11 and for me needs to be one of the first names on the team sheet. We have an excellent youth set up, it’s wonderful to see so many young female footballers supporting the ladies and we look forward to some of the being the stars of the future.

Durham Women v Blackburn Rovers - FA Cup: 4th Round
Kayleigh McDonald during the Women’s FA Cup 4th Round tie between Durham Women FC and Blackburn Rovers at Maiden Castle, Durham City on Sunday 30th January 2022.
Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

RR: What is the support like for Rovers Ladies?

LL: The crowds can vary but the core fanbase is small. The ladies' social media is excellent with alot of engagement I think the age old problem is how to turn that into people attending games.

In the 19/20 season we crowd funded to sponsor an individual player. Over 250 fans donated and we raised enough to sponsor the whole team. This showed there is interest in the ladies but I think the location of where matches are played, the days and times they are played on, and that many fans including us also support the men’s team home and away - it affects attendance.

RR: How would you describe the match day experience? Is parking each enough, is it a good environment with good facilities, and is there merchandise for sale?

LL: I tell everyone to go and watch the ladies! It’s a safe, inclusive and welcoming environment. It’s great for kids and the girls always stay on after the game for photos, autographs and a chat. The food and bar are good and reasonably priced.

There is very little ladies merchandise available and this is a continuing gripe of mine. The stadium has no parking and is 10 miles from where the men play at Ewood Park. Dogs are also welcome!

Blackburn Ladies v Liverpool Women - Barclays FA Women’s Championship
Ceri Holland of Liverpool and Millie Chandarana of Blackburn Rovers in action at Sir Tom Finney Stadium
Photo by Nick Taylor/Liverpool FC/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

RR: What is the support from the men's side and club as a whole regarding the ladies?

LL: If the men are promoted I think undoubtedly this will benefit the ladies. I’ve been critical of rovers in the past for not promoting the ladies and being inclusive for example in terms of advertising.

However this season some of the ladies players were included in the advertising for the new kits and the men’s account now tweets about the ladies fixtures and results.

We have some fantastic people working on the ladies side of the club who always strive for the best for the team but I think we need to keep pushing the men’s side of the club to embrace that.

RR: Finally, our usual score prediction question. How do you see this game panning out?

LL: It’s got to be a Rovers win, 1-0

Durham Women v Blackburn Rovers - FA Women’s Championship
Blackburn Rovers’ Ellie Leek celebrates with Annabel Blanchard after scoring during the FA Women’s Championship match between Durham Women FC and Blackburn Rovers at Maiden Castle, Durham City on Sunday 19th December 2021.
Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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