Women’s football is coming to West Kirby next season – as Wirral’s oldest amateur football club opens its doors to the female game for the first time.
West Kirby FC is to become the new home for a women’s team currently playing in Wallasey – and manager Andy Jones is keen to recruit local women to add to his squad.
“We launched the women’s team here in January, and we start playing as West Kirby for the 2017-18 season this September,” said Andy.
“Wallasey Wanderers is an open age team playing in a junior club, so we are coming here where it is more set up for adult football. We have a squad of 25 signed up, and we get about 15 turning up for games. We have roll-on, roll-off substitutions for five subs so everyone gets a game.”
Women’s football has enjoyed a huge increase in popularity in recent years, with many top professional teams fielding a women’s side. Andy says one of the big attractions of West Kirby is that the women’s team will get to enjoy the same main pitch and facilities that the men’s teams use at the club’s Marine Park base in Greenbank Road.
“It’s great that West Kirby FC are taking us on as a women’s team and treating us as a first team. We’ve had offers from other teams but this looks the most beneficial for everyone to push forward with,” said Andy.
Open training sessions and trials for new recruits will begin in June, and any female players interested in taking part should email Andy at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 07599 335038.
West Kirby FC can trace its history back to 1892, when the club won the Wirral Senior Cup. The club has been on the up in recent years, winning at least one trophy in each of the last 11 seasons.
Club vice chairman Roy Williamson admits this year is looking more challenging, but the club has big plans for future development.
“We were recently turned down for planning permission to put in floodlights, but we are appealing, and if we can do it we can play night matches, giving us the chance to move up from step seven to North West Counties type football, which is step six. We can also enter the FA Vase.”
The club has already extended its pitch by four metres and installed a hard standing around the pitch perimeter, and the next steps after floodlighting will be to install new dugouts and replace the club’s former wooden stand.
Now approaching 72, Roy, from Upton, has played and refereed football for many years, and has been involved with West Kirby FC for the last 21.
He has seen some great talents pass through the club before making careers in the professional game, players like Peter Davenport, Ian Woan and Tom Ince.
But undoubtedly the greatest player ever to turn out for the club – and win a trophy with them – was Everton’s legendary centre forward Dixie Dean – who once scored 60 goals in a single league season.
“We only discovered this recently when we were contacted by one of Dixie’s relatives,” said Roy. “In those days registration rules weren’t as strict as they are now, and both Everton and Liverpool would send players out to West Cheshire clubs to play, to get fit when they were coming back from injuries.”
The relative sent the club a photograph of Dixie Dean with the Wirral Cup which he had won with West Kirby in 1927. “We recognised the picture at once, and realised we had the same picture hanging up in our clubhouse,” said Roy.
“It was amazing. It had hung there for all those years, and we had had no idea who it was.”