Wolves Women: A season of challenges, ambition and fighting until the end
Under Dan McNamara’s guidance, Wolves Women have enjoyed years of sustained success.
Promotions, Birmingham County Cup victories and years of consistency have created a group of winners that have come agonisingly close to promotion to the Championship. As McNamara describes them, a group of ‘hard-working, tenacious, good people’.
A National League Northern Premier Division title in 2021/22 saw McNamara’s side play a ridiculous play-off against Southern Premier Division winners Southampton, which they lost, denying them promotion.
Last season, Wolves were then beaten to the league title on goal difference by Nottingham Forest, who then lost their play-off and returned to the league for this campaign.
So far this season they sit third after eight games, with five wins, one loss and two draws, but they are arguably over-achieving.
Compared to top two teams Burnley and Newcastle, among others in the league, Wolves are not throwing big money at the cause.
They are still part-time, while a number of their rivals are now full-time. Newcastle, for example, are paying players £25,000 a year alongside accommodation – something Wolves cannot currently come close to matching.
A number of Wolves’ star players are attracting interest from sides that may be able to offer them the dream of going professional, meaning the club may need to reluctantly let some depart.
On the other hand, no other team in the division can compete with the facilities Wolves Women have at their disposal. The team have access to the world class resources at Compton and liaise with all the departments to ensure the team has the best possible chance of success. That move is credit to the Wolves hierarchy, the staff leading those departments and head of women and girl’s football Jenna Burke-Martin.
Battling against big spenders, McNamara is striving to create a team that is capable of doing the impossible as they look to bring through local talents to bolster the first team.
“We want to compete and be fighting it out with Newcastle, Burnley and Forest, but we might have to do things a little bit different,” McNamara told the Express & Star.
“The money isn’t going to be thrown at it like it is elsewhere, so we have to come up with creative ways to try and make better players for lesser money.
“But then the challenge is holding onto them and that’s something we’ve found difficult over the last few months. The interest starts to come for those good, young individuals and an area the women’s game needs to massively improve is that they walk away for nothing and the thousands of hours that have gone into them since they were 10-years-old is gone.
“We have to start producing our own players, but not holding them back as well. If they are capable of going onto bigger and better things in the women’s Championship and above, then we have to make the right decisions by their futures.
“This season is a challenge and it’s hard because this group are winners. Over the last few years we’ve had an unbelievable run where we’ve not lost many games and now we’re getting to the stage of ‘normal football’, where we probably will lose four or five throughout the year.
“That’s a challenge for the girls to try and deal with. We’re trying to be more creative with what we do at Wolves because ultimately, we can’t compete financially anymore.
“I still maintain this is one of the best places to play football in tier three because of the overall offer, but purely financially, unfortunately we can’t get anywhere near the money which is unfortunately getting a little bit silly now within tier three. We just can’t compete.”