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West Brom's ladies are just champion

Sandwell | Sport | Published:

West Brom's ladies team have been crowned champions of the Women's Premier League Northern Division.

Sporting Club Albion thumped Bradford City 4-1 at Kidderminster Harriers' ground on Sunday to win the league with a game to spare.

It sets up a huge play-off with Southern Division champions Brighton & Hove Albion for a place in Division Two of the Women's Super League.

Their 41-year-old manager Graham Abercrombie, who's been in charge for the past two seasons, said: "What a dream come true.

"Bradford are a very tough and resilient group, so to do it in style against such a good team is the icing on the cake."

Albion ladies have been playing for roughly 20 years, and before this season the team's highest finish was fifth.

Now they have a one-off match at Wycombe Wanderers' Adams Park on Sunday, May 29, and a chance to break into the coveted Super League for the first time.

Abercrombie said: "It would be life-changing. We'd have more contact hours.

"The Premier League is a serious platform, it's 24-7 for us, but we all have to piece it in and around work so it's tremendous what we've done.

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"The Super League platform is growing, it's more serious in terms of the finance support and the structures around us all.

"It would be life changing for the coaches, and the players."

Graham Abercrombie and his assistant Nicky Gregg.

If the ladies were anxious on Sunday, they showed no signs of nerves. Summer Holmes opened the scoring, before captain Kelly Darby put Albion two up within 17 minutes.

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Sammy Conroy made it 3-0 after half-time, before Bradford pulled a goal back through a penalty.

But Abi Cottam rounded things off a few minutes later with a fourth to crown the girls worthy champions.

A couple of long cup runs had left the team with a fixture back-log that needed to be cleared, so Albion were never in the top three until the final weeks of the season.

But Abercrombie thinks his team benefitted from going under the radar.

He said: "If you had asked every Premier League manager who would have been the top three, we wouldn't have been in anyone's top three.

"We came close to relegation last year, but we knew it would be better this season. We were so far behind in games, at some stage we were seven or eight games behind.

"We haven't been in the top three until very recently because of the fixture congestion, but we knew we could win the league if we continued to perform to the levels that we were capable of."

The team are known as Sporting Club Albion because of their association with the club's charity, the Albion Foundation, but next year they will be returning to West Bromwich Albion Ladies.

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