Burnley FC Women hungry for more records after going top of the league
Burnley FC Ladies have already made history more than once but they're not done breaking records just yet.
After reaching the third round of the Women’s FA Cup for the first time last season, and securing promotion to the highest level in their existence, the club is now heading towards successive championships.
Matt Bee, named National League Manager of the Month for November, has engineered another title charge and, going in to Christmas, they stand five points clear at the top of the FA Women’s National League Division One North table.
So far they’ve won eight of their 10 games played, they’ve netted 17 times, conceding only five goals, with seven clean sheets included.
"It’s amazing,” said goalkeeper Lauren Bracewell. “After getting promoted last season we were just expecting to find our feet in the league.
“We obviously still wanted to do well, we always want to win and we always push to win but we didn’t expect to be where we are now.
“Our manager, Matt Bee, is pushing us to the limit. He’s such a good coach. He’s developed everybody since he’s been here.
“We’re exceeding our own expectations so we’ve just got to keep it going. We’re five points clear at the moment, we’ve got another game before Christmas so hopefully we can be top for then.”
The women’s game is beginning to get a lot more recognition on these shores. England’s successes in the World Cup in 2015 and the European Championships in 2017, where The Lionesses made the semi-finals on both occasions, has certainly propelled its status while Manchester United’s move to jump on board has added to the clamour.
Bracewell, 30, is embracing the shift in status and is proud to be a part of the movement. With perceptions changing, she said: “The women’s game is getting a lot bigger. Over the past few years it’s been taken a lot more seriously.
“A lot of people are ploughing money in to it now and clubs like Manchester United have come on board and got themselves in to Super League 2.
“I think people are recognising it more because a club like Man United have come in. They’re a massive club.
“It’s about time because I grew up with women’s football on the back-burner. It’s a lot more serious and I think it was helped with the England squad doing well in the World Cup. They set a platform there for young girls who will want to aspire to them.”
The club also harbours one of the most promising talents in the division. Winger Leah Embley was nominated for the Women’s Rising Star accolade at the North West Football Awards, alongside Natasha Flint (Blackburn Rovers), Emily Hockenhull (Bolton Wanderers), Faye Bryson (Everton), Sophie Charlton (Fylde Ladies), Niamh Charles (Liverpool) and Ellie Roebuck (Manchester City).
The 23-year-old scored 18 times from the right hand side last season, including four in a 5-0 win over Tranmere Rovers.
Last season’s Players’ Player of the Year is determined to make it all the way to the top of the women’s game but she wants to do it with Burnley.
“Everyone is together as one club now,” she said. “It feels a bit more professional than what it used to be.
“The coaching at Burnley is such a high standard now, everything is so professional and I just feel like I’m learning in every training session.
“Promotion wasn’t the aim at the beginning but now that we’re top that’s what we want to do.”
She added: “I got nominated for North West Women’s Rising Star Award, which I never thought I would before.
“Some of the girls from Man City and Liverpool were nominated. A few of the other women were there as well, which was good.
“I want to play as high as I can and keep pushing. I’m only young so anything could happen. I’ve still got my best years ahead yet and I’m still learning. I want to get to the top.”
Burnley FC Women take on Chorley FC Women at Victory Park on Sunday with kick off at 2 p.m.