By Matthew Kermode
This time 12 months ago Bradford City WFC celebrated the inaugural Women’s Football Weekend with a 6-0 victory at home to Ripon City Ladies, while across the country women’s football took centre stage, with record-breaking crowds at WSL games as teams took advantage of the international break to stage their games at what have been traditionally the men’s stadiums.
This year’s WFW will be a little different, Lockdown #2 means that while the WSL goes ahead, non-elite sport in on hold, including our own FAWNL Div.1 North season.
So with no football to report on, this is a perfect time to speak to our long-standing, and imminently-retiring, Chair Sally Thackray. Sally has been at the club virtually from its inception, and she spoke to me about her long journey from player’s parent to leading the club.
“I became involved in Bradford City Women's FC in 1998 when my daughter joined the U10s. ( She is 31 now and I haven't managed to leave yet!).
“For the next two seasons I managed one of the U12s 7-a-side teams, gaining my FA Coaching Level 1 in the process. We had two successful seasons, first winning the League, and then the League Cup. The girls' development was also a key feature.
“After that I became involved as a Committee Member. Due to my professional career being in HR, I had specific responsibility for recruiting managers and coaches and for diversity and equality issues.
“In 2003 I became the Club Secretary by default, there was no-one else able to take it on. This was quite a baptism of fire, as there was no handover with the previous Secretary and there was an awful lot to learn. This at a time when I had a stressful full time job as well as two teenagers to get to their very different hobbies. I also completed a part-time and Masters degrees in this period.
“Then a couple of seasons later the Club was left with virtually no other personnel to run the Club apart from me, and I then took on the Chair role, in addition to the Secretary job. A few very busy seasons followed, but I managed to secure some more help from both inside and externally to the Club, so we had the main tasks covered.
“During this time I began a long term project of trying to develop a closer relationship with Bradford City AFC. It is fair to say that this has gone from strength to strength, and we have moved closer together with each season. Now at the men's club, whilst there is more scope to move even closer, there is a much more open relationship and appreciation of the value that women's football has. The men's club has involved us as part of the Bradford City Family, and supported us where they are able. I would look back on this as one of the best achievements in my time as chair.”
Sally will step down from her role this winter, to enjoy a well-earned retirement which will allow her to spend much more time with her family. Meanwhile we as a club will find ourselves in a similar situation to when Sally to the reigns around 15 years ago. Sally’s departure, along with Treasurer Allyson Matthews, will see the club potentially run by a committee of only two or three people. Now is a perfect time to become involved in supporting us, from media or matchday assistance right through to the top job.