The fixture between Leighton Woodside U15 Girls and Woburn and Wavendon U15 Blues happened at Bell Close, the home of Leighton Town FC through Leighton Woodside's club partnership with Leighton Town.
This partnership was set up last year to help both clubs who equally share the passion of developing local boys and girls footballers and to help them transition from youth football into the adult game.
To help promote girls football in the area, Leighton Town very kindly offered the U15 girls a chance to play on their pitch and use all their facilities on a weekend when their pitch was not in use. Both teams really did have a full match day experience which included full use of the changing rooms, and food being provided to both teams after the game. The teams were able to warm up on the pitch before going back in the changing rooms for their team talks before lining up and making their entrance back to the pitch to music blasting from the tannoy and rapturous applause from the 150 supporters that we in attendance.
Leighton Town very kindly opened the drinks and snack kiosk as well as the main bar after the game to keep the parents and supporters well refreshed.
The game itself was played in tremendous spirt, Leighton Woodside led 2-0 before Woburn came back to level the game at 2-2. Leighton Woodside where then able to find another gear to win the game 4-2 in the last 5 minutes. The occasion was far more important than the result of the fixture as although Bell Close has hosted many female over 18 games and female cup finals before, we believe this is the first time grounds long history that it has ever hosted an under 18's female league match, a massive history making day for all 3 clubs involved.
The day was topped off by the amazing pre match photos that were taken by local professional sports photographer Chris Foxwell who called in quick to offer his services free of charge before he had to attend the MK Dons home match document proceedings there.
It was only 2 years ago that Leighton Woodside, formed in 1975 and one of the oldest clubs in Leighton Buzzard, had ever had a female team or section. The then under 13 girls team were based at another local club where Andy Mackenzie was the team manager, with Ashley Hartwig being his assistant. Ashley also had the role of the club's girls section secretary overseeing 10 girls teams across different age groups.
Although both Andy and Ashley were happy at our old club, the chance for them to move to Leighton Woodside and set up a female section from scratch was too good an offer to turn down.
Ashley speaks about the development of the girls teams and provision under Leighton Woodside:
'We had a successful first season at the club finishing 3rd in division 1 and winning the league plate final, creating history once again. This is our 2nd season at the club and things have really moved on in a positive way. We now have 2 girls teams at the club, our under 15's and a new under 16 team.
We are currently running our 2nd Weetabix Wildcats session every Thursday evening and we have lots of girls training alongside them from our first Weetabix Wildcats session who also train on Saturday mornings in preparation to forming teams next year.
The club along with Stoke Hammond FC have a brand new ladies team in training and playing friendly games ready to also joining league football next season which has created a brilliant local pathway for our existing girl teams which other clubs like Leighton Town can also feed into.
Leighton Woodside have also been very supportive of helping coaches achieve their targets with Andy Mackenzie recently completing his UEFA C licence which has been a huge benefit for our girls who are already reaping the rewards.
Leighton Woodside would like to thank the Bedfordshire FA representatives Rachel Spendelow and Dean Carney who in attendance to show their support and a special mention to the match day referee Ella Squires who was amazing throughout and no doubt has a big future in the game.
Lastly we would officially like to thank everyone at Leighton Town for giving both sets of girls this amazing opportunity.'
What a great occasion for girls football and I am sure will be one of many for the future.
Article Photo Credit: Chris Chris Foxwell