Absent Belles

Absent Belles

Things were very different three months ago; heatwaves only lasted a day or two, England were set to disappoint at the World Cup, and Doncaster Rovers Belles were celebrating. On 13 May, I was one of a number of Doncastrians standing a hefty goal-kick away from the Thames, applauding Doncaster Rovers Belles as they took the field to face Millwall as FA Women’s Super League 2 champions. Neil Redfearn’s side had lost just once, rattled in three goals a game, and would ultimately finish the season 10 points clear of their nearest challenger. As deserving a title as you could imagine.

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Tolling on the Belles… again

Tolling on the Belles… again

On Tuesday 5 December, Doncaster Rovers Belles announced they would not be submitting an application to be part of the newly proposed professional Women’s Super League, stating that to operate in the revamped top tier would be financially ‘beyond their means’. In issue 91 of popular STAND fanzine, Glen Wilson, speculated this would be the case as he looked at what the FA’s proposal for an all-professional women’s top tier meant for the game’s clubs. His article can be found below…

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On Why You Should Sound The Belles One Last Time

On Why You Should Sound The Belles One Last Time

 

This Sunday should have been host to the biggest game in Doncaster Belles’ illustrious history. Final game of the season, with a win needed for survival in the top flight. The Belles have never been relegated, and they would have been playing to preserve that proud record, rallying the support of the town behind them in the process. This could have been a huge weekend for women’s football in Doncaster, driving publicity, interest and pride. Should. Would. Could. But won’t. Continue reading “On Why You Should Sound The Belles One Last Time”

Silenced Belles; On the FA’s Rejection of the Doncaster Belles’ Appeal

Silenced Belles; On the FA’s Rejection of the Doncaster Belles’ Appeal

Eight years ago I was elected as a Student Union officer. A month into my role the University reneged on an agreement to allow our Freshers Fair to be held in the Sports Hall – the only suitable venue – as they wanted to expand their enrolment process. I did my research, I sourced the numbers and equipment involved in each event, I scoured plans and timetables for the entire university, and I went to a meeting with a pro-vice chancellor ready to put across a very valid alternate option that satisfied both parties. Said Pro-Vice Chancellor, presumably having not expected a new officer to be so prepared and logical – let alone the Sports Officer – lost patience and became more and more exasperated before eventually yelling “You’re missing the point, this is already happening”. Continue reading “Silenced Belles; On the FA’s Rejection of the Doncaster Belles’ Appeal”

D-Day at the FA; On the Doncaster Belles’ Appeal

D-Day at the FA; On the Doncaster Belles’ Appeal

Hopefully this will be the last piece I write about the Doncaster Belles which doesn’t have a football match as its focus. With a bit of luck it will also be the last time I have the cause to write the word ‘relegation’ in inverted commas too. Today, following an adjournment a fortnight ago, the Belles will have their appeal heard by the FA, it is D-Day, the ‘D’ being for decency, as this will be the last chance to resolve this issue within the confines of football governance. Continue reading “D-Day at the FA; On the Doncaster Belles’ Appeal”

Appeal of Belles; The Road to Wembley

Appeal of Belles; The Road to Wembley

Later today, at an undisclosed time, representatives of the Doncaster Belles will be at Wembley to have their appeal against arbitrary ‘relegation’ from the FA Women’s Super League heard by the Football Association. After twenty-two years, the Belles’ status as the only ever-presents at the top-tier of women’s football comes down not to a football match, but to folk in suits with laminated security passes bearing three lions. Whether the Belles are succesful in their appeal or not, seeing a sustainable and historically important football club’s status and future settled in this manner cannot  be for the good of the game in any sense. Continue reading “Appeal of Belles; The Road to Wembley”

So Who Did Ban Our Banner?

So Who Did Ban Our Banner?

It’s now five days since supporters, protesting against the arbitrary ‘relegation’ of Doncaster Belles as part of the FAWSL’s planned restructure, had a number of items confiscated from them ahead of the FA Women’s Cup Final. Taken from the supporters by Keepmoat Stadium stewards were flyers about a planned minute’s bell-ringing and applause to create awareness of the issue, a petition on the issue, some shirts kindly donated by the Belles kit supplier Jako, bells and our banner (fuller details of which you can read in our previous post on the subject of the Belles). But the question has remained since, under who’s instruction were the items confiscated; Doncaster Rovers or the FA? Continue reading “So Who Did Ban Our Banner?”

Bells, Banners & Belligerence; On Trying to Speak Out

Bells, Banners & Belligerence; On Trying to Speak Out

That banner in the picture there. I made that. I bought the paints and brushes on Tuesday lunchtime. I painted it (and much of our living room table too) late on Wednesday night. On Thursday I took it to the UEFA Women’s Champions League Final. On Friday I posted it to a group of Belles fans who were planning to attend the FA Women’s Cup Final at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium. On Saturday it reached them up in Doncaster. And on Sunday it was carted off by officials acting on behalf of the Football Association. Continue reading “Bells, Banners & Belligerence; On Trying to Speak Out”

Tolling for the Belles; On a Week of Campaigning

Tolling for the Belles; On a Week of Campaigning

The amount of traffic this website has seen since we shone a light on the nature of the FA’s restructure of the Women’s Super League has been unprecedented; thousands of views from all over the globe. Whilst I’m proud of this site and our humble print fanzine, I don’t for one minute assume that all who should know about the FA’s approach to altering women’s football and how it has affected the Belles will seek out the information or find it when visiting here. So this past week we have been out and about; making our presence known and getting this case out to a wider audience. Continue reading “Tolling for the Belles; On a Week of Campaigning”

The Belles’ Toll – Update and Points of Action

The Belles’ Toll – Update and Points of Action

On Sunday night I wrote an article for this site about the Doncaster Belles and how they had been ‘relegated’ one game into the current season as part of the FA’s plans to expand the Women’s Super League. That piece has since had a lot of exposure, indeed it ensured Monday was the busiest ever day on this site (and today we’ve already had three times as many visitors as then), but what was most surprising for me was that it turned out to be the first many people knew of the situation. Continue reading “The Belles’ Toll – Update and Points of Action”