With the 2021/2022 FA Women’s Championship season over and Sunderland having secured another year in the second tier of women’s football, it’s time to stop and reflect.
Want to learn more about your favourite footballer or fun facts about some of the lasses biggest stars? Then look no further....
This summer, Roker Report is profiling some of the SAFC Women players by asking them some interesting questions, delving into their stats, and sharing our thoughts on them as both players and as people.
Where were you born? I was born in Sunderland General hospital.
Former teams you’ve played for? I started off at SAFC 24/7 girls then Tyneside and Sunderland academy.
Favourite food? Favourite food is a hard one! I love lasagne so probably would say that.
Favourite music genre/artist/band? Acoustic music is my favourite but my favourite artist is Callum Scott or Brett Young. My favourite band has to be good old Westlife.
Who inspired or inspires you? When I was young Julio Arca, Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips inspired me they were my idols growing up. My brother and family inspire me every day too.
What would you sing on the team bus karaoke? I would sing something like sweet Caroline.. something everyone knows the words to, so they can join in
Who is your favourite women’s footballer past or present? My favourite women’s footballer is tough, so many talented players, but I’d probably go with one who I really looked up to from the past, which is Rachel Yankey. I remember playing against her a few times she was a great player and a legend.
Do you have any superstitions or pre-match rituals? I carry a picture in my footy bag of my loved ones who are no longer here, I’ve forgotten it once and had to go back for it as it’s now a ritual that it needs to be with me.
Any other hobbies? Other hobbies, I like boxing, karate, and running, but it’s always football now.
Fun fact about yourself or hidden talent? I’m a 2nd dan black belt in karate and achieved that at the age of 11 or 12 (can’t remember exact) which at the time was the youngest girl in England.
If you weren’t playing football, what do you think you would do or want to do? If I wasn’t playing football (which I can’t even imagine happening, haha) I would have kept going with Karate and boxing. Job wise I always wanted to be in the police but I knew that the shifts would clash with training/games, etc, so maybe that.
I love the job I’m in now though [teaching] and wouldn’t change it for the world.
Averaging 78.6 minutes per game and playing in 20 out of 21 fixtures this season, Captain Kiera Ramshaw has been a prolific figure for Sunderland, both on and off the field.
Always leading by example, Ramshaw is heavily involved in all aspects of the game as highlighted by her heatmap above. Predominately playing out on the right wing, there have been times over the course of this season where Keira has had to be flexible in terms of role and position in the squad, at times playing where she isn’t comfortable.
But, despite that, Ramshaw always gives 100%, making sure to be that confident, calm and commanding presence in the middle of the pitch and providing attacking width on the attack, carrying the ball forward, holding up the ball, and she definitely does not shirk in her defensive duties.
Her aggressiveness and pressing really disrupts opposition teams, particularly teams who like to maintain possession and play a passing game along the floor. Ramshaw likes to be involved and press from the front, closing down players, forcing them back, forcing a mistake and being quick to act on the transition.
One of Ramshaw’s main strengths is her physicality, as well as her obvious leadership skills. Regularly this season I have watched Keira use her body and strength to hold the ball up, back to the opponent, as she keeps them at bay and shields the ball as she waits for more teammates to run up the pitch.
As is the usual case when Ramshaw plays for the Lasses, she exudes great confidence and composure, calmly stepping out tackles or executing brilliant turns despite being under pressure. Whilst it doesn’t always come off her, Ramshaw is not afraid to run at players or to attempt to dribble past them. It adds a different facet to the Lasses’ game.
Given the fact that Sunderland don’t tend to dominate possession or passing stats, it is a breath of fresh air to see a footballer with no fear and confidence in their abilities to attack players head-on.
However, Ramshaw has the intelligence and vision to know when a chance or opportunity is not available and will almost make the safest choice. That is not to say she will pass back and diminish the attack, only that she is smart enough to see someone in a better attacking position or players such as the likes of Emily Scarr, Maria Farrugia or Grace Ede making forward runs behind the defensive line.
Loyal, passionate and a diehard Sunderland fan, the Lasses are incredibly fortunate (and I'm sure grateful), to have some like Ramshaw leading the side. Undoubtedly an inspiration to younger players in the squad and young fans watching from the stands.
Statistically, this is Ramshaw’s best season yet in her career, earning 1572 minutes, 6 goals in all comps and 1 assist. With Sunderland securing another year in the Championship and Captain Keys leading the side, it can only suggest that the best is yet to come.
2021-22 Season Stats (Averages)
- 63.98 Total Actions per game
- 1.45 shots per game
- 26.45 passes per game
- 27.77 duels per game
- 7.54 aerial duels per game
- 8 interceptions per game
- 6.19 recoveries per game
Ed’s Note [Rich] Captain Keys - the heart and soul of the SAFC Women’s squad, at 28 she’s been with the club for well over a decade and has been with us through the good times when we reached the top of the WSL, and the not so good times when we were kicked out because of Ellis Short and the FA.
Ramshaw has won the hearts of many supporters this season by joining our Ant down at the Sunderland Community Soup kitchen and taking donations at Eppleton for the Sunderland Food Bank even when she was out injured.
This won her our special Community Award in the Roker Report end of season fan poll, which along with her club Player of the Year award caps a great season back in Tier 2.
The skipper has also been through some hard times - injury prevented her from playing at the Stadium of Light at the end of last summer, and she bounced back from a car accident in the new year before her dad Keith suffered a shock heart attack, from which he thankfully has begun to recover.
Hopefully, happier times are ahead for the Mackem lass, as her fiance is expecting their first child later in the year, which will probably mean she will miss at least part of the next campaign with some well-deserved maternity leave. But we don’t doubt she’ll still have a massive part to play as we look to kick on in the FA Women’s Championship in 2022-23.