Formed in 1989, Leeds United Ladies has been one of the country’s top women’s sides for most of the last ten years.
After seven years playing in the Yorkshire & Humberside league, the season 1997/98 saw the first team gain promotion to the AXA FA Northern Premier League. After consolidating and adjusting to National league football for a couple of seasons they then achieved promotion as champions of the Northern Premier League, the same season also saw them play in the semi finals of the Women’s FA Cup for the first time. They then gained promotion in 2001/02 to the FA National League where they finished a very credible fourth.
2003/2004 saw the team once again in fourth place, the highest placed team outside London. In 2004/05 the team finished in fifth place, while 2005/06 saw the team achieve its first appearance in the Women’s FA Cup final.
Season 2006/07 was an up and down season with Leeds topping the table over the Christmas period and getting through to the Premier League Cup Final, when they narrowly lost 1-0 in the 90th minute against Arsenal and eventually finished fifth in the league.
Over the summer of 2007 the youth teams amalgamated with the Leeds United Girls Centre of Excellence to form one organisation that feeds into the open age team.
The club had several members of the first squad who had progressed through from the youth teams, including England regulars Gemma Bonner and Jess Clarke, Sophie Walton, Olivia Thackray and Mel Sutcliffe.
The Rick Passmoor years
Rick Passmoor was appointed Manager in July 2007, and brought in new signings including Steph Houghton, Carly Telford, Katie Holtham and Jade Moore, while the partnership with Leeds Metropolitan University brought in players such as Emma Higgins from Northern Ireland.
In 2008, Carla Cantrell and Ellen White arrived, while the summer of 2009 saw the arrival of Nat Staneff, Laura Bassett and Remi Allen.
The blend of home-grown talent with regular England internationals saw the club have its most successful period ever. As well as the Premier League Cup win, and a second FA Cup Final appearance in 2008, the club was made Club of the Year in the 2010 Leeds Sports Federation Awards and finished fourth, just three points and a few goals away from Europe. Rick Passmoor deservedly collected the Premier League Manager of the Season award from the FA.
But the successes of 2009-10 came against the backdrop of the end of the partnership with Leeds Metropolitan University, the club having its funding and Super League application withdrawn in January 2010, just two weeks before the Premier League Cup Final.
A new dawn
In July 2010, the club re-adopted the Leeds United Ladies name when it was taken under the wing of the Leeds United Foundation, but is now independently funded by local businesses and people – such as our Chairman, Steve Russell – with a genuine interest in women’s football. Reserves manager Gemma Grainger stepped up to run the first team, but with results going against the club Rick Passmoor came back for the second half of a difficult transitional season.
Despite having a young and inexperienced squad, the club eventually finished fourth in the eight-team league and won the County Cup for the sixth time in the past ten years.
One of the people Rick brought to the bench was former coach Chris Welburn, and in the summer of 2011 he was appointed manager. His work in building up the squad and taking it to greater heights has already begun, with key signings in Sarah Danby, Emma Johnson, Billie Murphy, Amy Turner and Vanessa Holmes – and more to follow.
- FA Women’s Premier League Northern Division
- Champions 2000-01
- FA Women’s Cup
- Runners-up 2005-06
- Runners-up 2007-08
- FA Women’s Premier League Cup
- Champions 2009-10
- Runners-up 2006-07
- FA Women’s Reserves Premier League Cup
- Runners-up 2008-09
- West Riding FA County Cup
- Champions 2010-11, 2008-09, 2007-08
- Runners-up 2009-10
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