When you hear of East Belfast Football Club you instantly think of the red and black, Border Cup finals, or even recent events such as the clubs historic 3-0 victory against Glentoran at the Oval. This proud community club are steeped in history and success from the present day right back to the club’s establishment in 1929.
However, not many first thoughts around East Belfast FC would be of Ladies football.
Formed 2 years ago under the guidance of John Spence, the ladies registered into the NIWFA league with the aspirations of giving footballing and social opportunities to the young females within the local community.
In the short 2 years of existence the East Ladies have provided top quality coaching, fitness and nutrition advice and a sense of belonging to over 40 females aged from 16-40. Despite this success and cohesion building within the community, the ladies section have also enjoyed remarkable success on the field.
In their first season the ladies won their league division on a dramatic last day showdown at Inervary Park. To back that up they appeared at Seaview stadium, in the league cup final, 5 days after the league success. They cruised to victory and lifted an impressive double in their debut season. This was an historical feat which was duly covered by BBC Newsline and numerous other media outlets.
The taste of glory quickly became addictive, and the East ladies were displayed their hunger for more heading into their second season.
The squad once again came back together and set their sights on creating more history. I was proud to take on the role of manager.
How can you improve on what was already an incredible debut season was my initial thought? How can you grow ladies football even further in the community?
Those questions were asked and answered in spectacular fashion as the East Ladies firmly stamped their name into NIWFA history.
The girls became the lowest ever ranked team to reach the coveted County Antrim FA Cup final, seeing off premier league opposition along the way.
No team from outside the NI Women’s Premier League had ever reached the final until the East Ladies wrote themselves into the record books of ladies football.
The final was probably a step to far as Glentoran BU, loaded with International stars, took the trophy but the occasion was a taste of where this East side are heading.
I told the players after ‘’we didn’t lose this final, we learnt from it’’
The league was always the main priority, the bread and butter of any teams season. And the East girls advanced through their league with ease.
They not only won their league with 2 games to spare, but again created more history by becoming the first NIWFA invincibles- achieving a 100% league winning record.
So 2 years, 3 trophies, 2 promotions, 2 finals and an unbeaten league run….. but we will not stop there.
The East girls go again in the Championship next year.
You can watch the girls lifting their latest trophy HERE
By Stephen Watters