History of Watford Ladies FC
Watford Ladies FC is an FA Charter Standard independent girls football club based in Watford, originally linked with Watford FC men’s club. Since 1970 it has achieved many years of success developing players who have gone on to play at the highest level including International level.
WATFORD SUPPORTERS LADIES CLUB FORMED IN 1970
Watford Ladies FC was formed in 1970 in response to a demand for a ladies football team at Watford FC.
The club was originally called the Supporters Ladies Club before being known as ‘Willy Walker Watford Wonders’ after manager Doug Hewish and trainers John Williams and Mike Walker, who both played for Watford FC.
In 1997 this club merged with Watford Town Girls which started the feeding of youth players through to the senior women's football team.
SUPPORT OF WATFORD FC MENS CLUB
The Watford Ladies 1st team climbed though the divisions, and by 2003 were in the Southern division of the Women's Premier league.
At this point a partnership with Watford FC men’s club was established through its Community, Sports and Education Trust, that had also been running a girl’s elite youth programme since 2001.
This saw Watford Ladies gain support from the men’s club for the first time since the 1970s and also linked the girl’s grassroots football with the girls elite football programme run by the C.S. & E Trust.
WATFORD FC MENS SUPPORT DESIGN OF NEW BADGE
By the end of the 2006-07 season Watford Ladies FC, managed by Sian Williams, finished top of the Premier league Southern Division to win promotion to the National division.
In 2011 the FA Women's Super League was established with 8 selected top women's teams competing over the summer months for the first time.
In 2012 when the new owners took over Watford FC, for the purpose of protecting Watford FC image rights, they designed a new badge for Watford Ladies WSL team to use on their social media pages.
The girls’ development programme also adopted this new badge, however the elite girls programme continued to wear the men’s badge.
FIRST TEAM REACH THE TOP TIERS OF WOMENS FOOTBALL
The Women’s Super League proved to be a commercial success, so when the Womens Super League, WSL, was expanded to include a 2nd division in 2014, Watford Ladies FC succeeded in their application to join the WSL group of teams.
ELITE & GRASS ROOTS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME COMES UNDER SINGLE LEADERSHIP IN 2015
At the start of the 2014/15 season, our grassroots girls’ teams and the elite girls teams were brought together under the management of Watford Ladies FC, while the WSL first team were moved directly under the management of Watford FC men’s club.
Up until this time the elite youth programme played under the Watford FC men’s badge, however since no funding was ever provided from Watford FC to support girls football, the elite girls youth programme struggled financially with the high cost of replacing the official Watford kit every year.
Therefore as part of the coming together of the two girls programmes it was decided that the elite girls programme would also adopt the alternative badge.
WATFORD LADIES FC BECOME INDEPENDENT AGAIN
At the end of the 2017-18 season, Watford FC men’s club chose not to re-apply for the licence for the Women to compete in the WSL. This meant that the Watford Ladies WSL team automatically dropped down to the Southern Premier League. At this point, Watford Ladies FC chose to re-establish itself as a fully independent club once again as it was clear that our aspirations for women’s professional football were not aligned with the men’s club. See press announcement of withdrawal of women’s team from the WSL here.
VISION GOING FORWARD
Watford Ladies FC will continue to stay true to its values of providing football for girls at all levels from grass roots through to the top level of women’s football. Regardless of a player’s level of ambition, these girls all play a part in Watford Ladies FC and we are proud that they identify themselves as our members.
Going forward the vision is to continue to provide football for girls at all levels, however we are also putting in place plans to extended our programme to enable girls who would like to develop their football to a high level whilst also achieving the highest level of academic success by working with local academic institutions to provide a strong academic programme combined with top-level football coaching.
INTEGRATED FOOTBALL & EDUCATIONAL PATHWAY
At Watford Ladies, we are fully committed to the development of the whole person. Key to us is the combined development around Football and Education. We see this as absolutely key to maximise the life outcomes for our players.
This is why our programme embeds education within the entire pathway all the way up from 5+ with zoom sessions and inclassroom sessions for our younger players extending to full-time 16-19 Dual Track 16-19 A'Level / Btec Football Academy and University programmes.
We care about player outcomes as much as club progression.