After 20 years of looking back at a trophy filled history, Croydon Women are now looking to the future.
Photography: Charlotte Casey
Croydon made their comeback in 2019 initially as an U18 squad. Since then the club has made many progressive moves both on and off the pitch, including a league title, 3 new sponsorships and home fixtures being held at Croydon Arena.
The club has big boots to fill, as the side from the 90's were extremely successful.
Originally formed in 1991 as Bromley Borough, the club then became Croydon Women FC in 1994 and went on to become one of the top teams in England.
After winning the league and FA Cup double in 1996, the league again in an undefeated season in 1999, and another double in 2000, the club was disbanded in 2000.
Most of the players went onto form and play for Charlton Women Athletic FC, who now compete in the Championship.
Hope Powell was one of the six Croydon players who competed in the 1995 World Cup, which reveals the high standards of this squad.
In order to achieve near this greatness, Croydon's first female Chair, Emma Bowell, argues the importance of representation in the women's game:
"I think it’s really important to have female representation at all levels in the women’s game, having a female chair is an indication for young woman wanting to get into the game that they don’t just have to be players, they can do something behind the scenes as well.
It’s been really good to attract sponsorships as well because they can see that we’re invested in growing the game for all women, so been something they want to get involved in".
Emma is seen above on the left!
Ceslocums, Her Game Too and First Trams Operations are amongst the new sponsors the club has introduced this season. However, Merky FC is the sponsor that has stolen the show.
Merky FC is a partnership between Adidas and Storzmy to create leadership opportunities for the black communities in football. This progressive step is motivating for many of the players at Croydon, as well as all the teams that this initiative has supported.
Emma is a strong believer in this support at all clubs, not just those at the elite level:
"Across every level of the women’s football the game is growing, and I think that’s really important that that comes through at grassroots as well.
We’re playing at the Arena this season that has come about due to a partnership with the men’s team, which has worked really well'.
A huge contrast between the past team and now is the use of social media, which was Emma's main role prior to being Chair, so she has seen first hand the growth that has taken place.
"It’s been so important to us. We’ve reached new audiences and we know this because we’ve got people coming along who have seen our matches advertised on Instagram.
For a grassroots club that doesn’t have a big advertising budget, social media is so invaluable to us".
Through this awareness the future looks bright for the Trams, in which Emma has many ideas in place:
"What we get off the pitch can help us on the pitch.
‘So on the pitch, playing in the FA cup is a big dream, obviously we’ve got that history there. And then off the pitch it is about looking to expand the club, can we get more teams involved? Can we get out to the community more and potentially have a youth team?"
The first team currently compete in the Surrey league premier division (tier 7) and the development team participate in the Clapham Women’s Saturday league. With two already existing teams, expanding out is achievable with the correct support.
The questionis, will this current team be able to replicate Hope Powell's winning side from the 90's?