Seven long months (minus a good six week break during the Olympics), fifty six matches (minus cup games), 5,040 minutes of football (minus injury time), 180 goals (minus…er, nothing…okay, we’ll stop this now) – it’s been another great season for the FA Women’s Super League. But now that it’s all done bar the shouting – the shouting being seriously important European cup football for one remaining team – how did things turn out? And who have been the real stars of 2012?
Champions – Arsenal Ladies
We were there, so hopefully you know this already, but the champions for the second season in a row were Arsenal Ladies, continuing the great club’s tradition of success in the women’s game. To highlight the victory doesn’t tell the full extent of the story, though, with Laura Harvey’s charges matching the 2003-2004 achievement of their male counterparts by going the entire season unbeaten in the league. 14 games, 10 victories, 4 draws, 39 goals scored and 18 conceded is a record of the North London team’s dominance of the women’s league and more may yet come with an appearance in the inaugural FA Women’s Super League Continental Cup Final against Birmingham City Ladies on Wednesday. Birmingham, of course, are league runners up and winners of the Women’s FA Cup this season already.
Player of the Season – Kim Little (Arsenal Ladies)
At barely 22 years of age, Little remains a burgeoning talent in the women’s game, yet her impact is clear for all to see. An attacking midfielder of prolific proportions, the Arsenal Ladies midfielder finishes the season with an astonishing 11 goals from 14 games, leading the league’s goalscoring charts. Her consistent threat playing behind the Arsenal frontline is evidenced in her record of 58 goals in just 52 games for the league champions; she is the league’s true runaway star.
Game of the Season – Lincoln Ladies 3 – 3 Liverpool Ladies
Neither team may have set the league alight over the course of the year, but for one afternoon in July these two sides produced a game of astonishing drama at Ashby Avenue, with the away team rescuing a dramatic late point. Having led 2-0 after just a quarter of an hour and 3-2 with only fifteen minutes to go, Lincoln looked favourites throughout, but when Lincoln and England skipper Casey Stoney tugged back Kelly Jones when through on goal, she earned herself a rare straight red card and provided Jones with an opportunity to rescue an unlikely point. Jones nervelessly buried the penalty with virtually the last kick of the game, marking one of the truly great games seen in women’s football this season.
(NB:we are discounting international football for the purposes of this article – otherwise, the barnstorming Canada – US Olympic Semi Final would have won this award by a country mile)
Goal of the Season – Aine O’Goman
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUhO-IL0CKY (from 30 seconds in)
There’s a pair of cracking own goals in the above video and one delightful team effort from Arsenal, but Goal of the Season belongs firmly to Doncaster Belles first half equaliser. In a tight opening period, neither Arsenal Ladies nor Doncaster Belles had looked too threatening, but having fallen behind to one of the aforementioned own goals, the Belles’ Aine O’Gorman lit the game up with an astonishing strike from fully 35 yards. Picking the ball up on the left touchline, O’Gorman drove into the middle of the pitch before launching a picture-perfect lob, beating a back-pedaling Emma Byrne in the Arsenal goal and sparking gasps of admiration from fans of both sides around the ground. The game may have been a dead rubber, with Arsenal Ladies having won the league title earlier in the day after Birmingham had failed to beat Bristol Academy Ladies, but O’Gorman ensured there would be no let up in the quality of the football. She almost repeated the trick late on in the game, only for Byrne to scramble her long-range effort clear – albeit only into the path of Leandra Little who blasted home in injury time.
Team of the Season
Okay, we’re cheating here. In sporting terms, Arsenal have dominated and rightly deserve this award. But we’re picking out the FA Women’s Super League Media Team who, in partnership with ESPN and aided so wonderfully by the profile granted to women’s football during London 2012, have played a sterling role in raising interest in the national game’s gender equality. And they even found time to tweet messages of support to the England Women’s Cricket team in Sunday’s T20 semi-final. What a bunch of stars.
NB:This is the third article in a row to feature the use of NB…
Image from http://www.fawsl.com/teamsAndPlayers.html (thanks!)