The 2023/2024 season so far
It’s been an excellent first half of the season for Sunderland Women.
Despite concerns about how the club would fare following a disappointing 2022/2023 campaign, including losing key players, two relegation spots opening up and not adopting a fully professional model like the majority of teams in the league, the club showed that not only is patience a virtue, but that they know exactly what they’re doing.
As it stands, the Lasses sit third in the FA Women’s Championship with twenty two points and are only one point off top spot. They’ve conceded the least amount of goals in the division with nine and have scored thirteen in the twelve league games they’ve played so far.
The acquisitions the club made over the summer have contributed greatly to Sunderland’s improved form, assisting in their own way right across the pitch and seemingly restoring confidence to what would’ve been a deflated team at the end of the 2022/2023 season.
Given that Sunderland are one of the only remaining teams in the league to not be full time professionals, they’ve been at the top of the table or sitting just below for the majority of the campaign and it’s to their credit that they’re competing with teams who feature ‘big name’ players and can boast significant financial backing.
- Claudia Moan - Goalkeeper Photo by Henry Browne - The FA/The FA via Getty Images
- Megan Borthwick - Goalkeeper Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images
- Faye Mullen - Defender Photo by Nick Taylor/Liverpool FC/Liverpool FC via Getty Images
- Grace McCatty - Defender Photo by Will Matthews/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images
- Louise Griffiths - Defender Photo by Jess Hornby - The FA/The FA via Getty Images
- Brianna Westrup (C) - Defender Photo by Richard Callis/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images
- Jessica Brown - Defender Photo by Richard Callis/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images
- Amy Goddard - Defender Photo by Steve Bardens - The FA/The FA via Getty Images
- Megan Beer - Defender Photo by Jacques Feeney/Getty Images
- Grace Ede - Defender Photo by Steve Bardens - The FA/The FA via Getty Images
- Katie Kitching - Midfielder Photo by Nigel Roddis - The FA/The FA via Getty Images
- Mollie Rouse - Midfielder Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images
- Natasha Fenton - Midfielder Photo by Richard Callis/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images
- Jenna Dear - Midfielder Photo by Stu Forster - The FA/The FA via Getty Images
- Libbi McInnes - Midfielder Photo by Henry Browne - The FA/The FA via Getty Images
- Ellen Jones - Midfielder Photo by Nigel Roddis - The FA/The FA via Getty Images
- Katy Watson - Forward Photo by Jess Hornby - The FA/The FA via Getty Images
- Emily Scarr - Forward Photo by Barrington Coombs - The FA/The FA via Getty Images
- Mary McAteer - Forward Photo by Richard Callis/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images
- Elizabeta Ejupi - Forward Photo by Stu Forster - The FA/The FA via Getty Images
The Lasses’ home stadium
Eppleton Colliery Welfare Ground is situated in Hetton-le-Hole, not far from the town centre.
The capacity is 2,500 with 250 seats under one covered stand. The seats are available on a ‘first-come, first-served basis’, although disabled seating can be reserved by contacting the club.
Fans can enter through the turnstile closest to the main stand an hour before kick off, and with most Sunderland games kicking off at 2:00pm, you can enter from 1:00pm. However, kick offs can be earlier depending on the competition and how far the opponents have travelled.
Thankfully in recent weeks, public transport in the region has finally resumed its normal service following Go North East’s industrial action, and bus stops are located next to the ground.
If you’re travelling by bus, please use the following link to plan your route to and from the game:
Parking isn’t available at the ground, however there are some car parks which have around seventy spaces available at Barnes Street, Barnes Street Church and McMurchie Meat Ltd.
There’s also Park View road and Bog Row located just outside the ground, which don’t have yellow lines, but are situated next to people’s homes.
For supporters who require disabled parking spaces, the club have a few disabled spaces available on match days. However, you’ll need to email firstname.lastname@example.org in order to reserve a parking space.
The club asks that any requests for disabled parking bays are submitted forty eight hours prior to kick off.
Tickets are generally priced at £10 for adults, £7.50 for over-sixty fives and £5 for students and under-sixteens, and can be purchased at https://www.eticketing.co.uk/safc.
However, do check the ticketing website and club social media feeds, as for cup fixtures or league games, tickets may be cheaper.
All tickets are purchased online and will be sent to you digitally through the email address you provided, and it’s worth checking that they haven’t landed in your spam or junk folders.
Once you receive your e-ticket, it can be added to your mobile wallet, printed at home, or you can save the PDF you’ve been sent and show it to a steward at the gate.
Sunderland season ticket holders can show their season card at the gate on the day to gain entry to any league and Conti Cup games, but they’re not eligible for FA Cup fixtures and season ticket holders must also purchase tickets for these fixtures.
Tickets can be purchased on the gate with cash or card at the majority of home games, and for cup fixtures or games with large attendances, please check Sunderland Women’s social media feeds.
Supporters who can’t attend home games can watch live and for free on either Sunderland Women’s Twitter (X) or their official YouTube Channel.
Play-by-play updates will be provided on Twitter via @SAFCWomen, and we’ll be sharing photos, videos and comments on the game via our @HawayPod Twitter account.
Free coverage is only provided at Sunderland’s home games and primarily covers league fixtures. Due to licensing agreements, the club may not always be able to show live Conti Cup or FA Cup fixtures at home.
The FA Player chooses various fixtures each week to show live and for free on their website and app, so you may occasionally be able to watch the Lasses live on the road.
If not, full match replays and highlights will be uploaded to the FA Player the following day, and Sunderland will also upload highlights onto their own YouTube channel.
Twitter (X): @SAFCWomen
Facebook: Sunderland AFC Women
Twitter (X): @HawayPod
Sunderland AFC Women Supporters’ Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1125442191487962/
The match day experience
As mentioned previously, supporters can enter the ground an hour before kick off.
Seating is available on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis and there’s no segregation between home and away fans.
For food and drink, the ‘Centre Spot Cafe’ is located behind one of the goals closest to the entrance (on your right as you enter) with food and drinks available to purchase using cash and card, and no alcohol sold.
If you wish to watch the Lasses warm up prior to the match, they usually come out an hour before the game kicks off and stay out until fifteen minutes prior to the whistle.
They warm up on the far side of the ground (on the left as you enter), so if you wish to watch them and their drills, you’re best off situated behind the goal.
At the end of the game, fans can wait to speak to the players by the stand, but are asked to wait until most people have vacated the ground.
Players will usually come over about five to ten minutes after they’ve finished their post-match huddle and will gladly chat with you, as well as taking photographs, selfies and signing memorabilia.