Palace Ladies face Leicester City in their first ever Women’s Championship game this Sunday (9 September, 2pm) at Bromley FC. Here’s everything you need to know about our Ladies team, ahead of their historic league opener.
• Palace Ladies play in the second tier of the newly-structured women’s league pyramid in the Women’s Championship (beneath the fully professional Women’s Super League), and will take on Aston Villa Ladies, Charlton Athletic Women, Durham Women, Leicester City Women, Lewes Women, London Bees, Manchester United Women, Millwall Lionesses, Sheffield United Women and Tottenham Ladies.
• The league is made up of semi-professional footballers (as opposed to the fully profesional Women's Super League), and all the Palace Ladies squad have full-time jobs – including a doctor, a post woman, a mental health worker, teachers and sports coaches.
• The Palace Ladies senior squad currently consists of 21 players, all of whom are contracted to Palace Ladies, and either receive a wage or are paid expenses. This is made possible by the substantial financial support from parent club Crystal Palace Football Club and principal sponsor, Utilita Energy, who are committed supporters of the women’s game.
• The Ladies play all of their home games at Bromley FC‘s Hayes Lane ground (and have done since 2014), on a 4G synthetic pitch. Most matches in the league are played on such artificial pitches.
• Home match day tickets are available on the gate priced at just £5 for adults, £2.50 for concessions and CPFC Season Ticket holders and Paid Members (who bring their card), with U16s going free of charge.
• The team also train at Bromley FC twice a week, with additional gym and tactical sessions throughout the week.
• The team is captained by Freya Holdaway (pictured), who is a Northern Ireland international, and won the club’s Player of the Season award last year. She is entering her fourth season as a Palace player, and her third as captain. Vice-captain is Ciara Watling (pictured).
• Palace have been busy in the transfer market this summer, targeting experienced talent, including Ashlee Hincks and Jordan Butler from Millwall, Hannah Mackenzie (Tottenham Hotspur) and Anneka Nuttall (Watford). Gillingham’s top scorer last season Kallie Balfour has also joined the ranks. All pictured.
• Whilst the league season begins on Sunday, the Ladies have already got off to a flyer, beating Tottenham Ladies on penalties and Women’s Super League side Yeovil Town in the Continental Tyres League Cup group stages last weekend. Games against Chelsea, Brighton and Hove Albion and London Bees will follow, with the top two teams from each group advancing to the knockout rounds. The quarter-finals are set for 8-9th January and the semi-finals will commence on 5th February, with the final taking place later that month.
• The club was founded in 1992, but was remodelled in 2010, led by a committee that largely remains in place today under Chairman Richard Spokes. It has been modernised from the ground up, and has a thriving junior section with 200 players, from under 9s until under 18s. The club also has an Academy of Excellence.
• Dean Davenport is the team’s manager, supported by Richie Callaghan (assistant coach) and Kirk Stoneham (coach).
Support Palace Ladies this Sunday at Bromley FC, as they take on Leicester City Women at 2pm. Tickets are available on the gate priced at just £5 for adults, £2.50 for concessions and CPFC Season Ticket holders and Paid Members (who bring their card), with U16s going free of charge.
Palace TV attended training on Thursday night as the side prepare for Sunday, watch the full feature below.