Hull City Ladies crowned division champions with time to spare

Hull City Ladies football team
Hull City Ladies football team have been crowned FAWNL Division One North champions -Credit:Kevin Green Photography

It was a night for celebration as Hull City Ladies as they were crowned division champions on Tuesday.

The Tigresses knew that three points against Yorkshire rivals Leeds United would see them not only promoted back to the Northern Premier Division, but also win the league title with a game to spare.

In what should've been a tense affair given what was on the line away from home, City turned up in style romping out 5-1 winners to be crowned FAWNL Division 1 North champions.

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The game, which was postponed from Saturday due to a waterlogged pitch, was played with intense pressure from minute one. Penned in, it took 36 minutes for the first of five goals to come in as Hope Knight applied a first-time finish to bag her first of 2024. One quickly became two before half time, as league top scorer Helen Lynskey's free kick from the left nestled into the net.

Although Leeds came out with more hunger in the second half, forcing 'keeper Abi Wallace to a save from a set piece, Shakala Brookes made it three at the back post. A ten-second box-to-box counter saw Rachael Ackroyd chip the keeper before Knight bagged her second. Leeds would get a consolation, following a rebounded penalty saved by Wallace, though that did not spoil the celebrations that went into the night.

Hull City Ladies Director of Football and First Team coach Chris Hames
Hull City Ladies Director of Football and First Team coach Chris Hames -Credit:David Rimmer

Speaking to Hull Live the day after the title was sealed, Hull City Ladies First Team Manager and Director of Football, Chris Hames, said: "Obviously it was a fantastic night. In terms of the season and everything, it's been incredible. It's a nice little balance between a brilliant performance on the day, and a brilliant season really."

This is the second season Chris has been in charge, and has already seen a massive change in the club.

He said: "I came in June '22, and it's probably unrecognisable as a club. When I came in, I found a club with so much intention to do well on and off the pitch. It had a really good group of players, a really passionate group of backroom staff. It just lost its identity a little bit, so we developed an identity, culture and an idea on what we want to be.

"It's been a really transformational couple of years culminating in a really good result last night winning the league and, hopefully, putting us on the right foot to sustain that because we are nowhere near where I think we should be."

With promotion and the title already in the bag, The Tigresses' season ends on May 5 against bottom-placed FC United of Manchester. In the reverse fixture in December, the game was played at Rugby League ground Sewell Group Craven Park for a special 'On The Road' fixture in front of a record-breaking crowd of 1,017, which helped the club gain more fans.

"We had an amazing attendance on the day, but we got a lot more attention across media channels - and it was brilliant," said Chris. "The girls themselves as players and professionals deserve that because they've gone through a lot, some of them have been playing senior games when one or two people and a dog turned up, but now we're getting absolutely amazing attendances and passionate support.

"In terms of following up [On The Road], I'm sure that there's things coming up in the future. What's important is we build a consistency and a base of passionate and continued support. We can then make that the impacts on what we're having on the wider community in terms of growth in women's sport."

As attention is already looking at next season back in the Northern Premier Division, forward planning is already underway to help the Tigresses establish themselves.

"We're always planning and progressing on what we want to do", Chris said. "We're not going to kid ourselves and think that we can do and expect better results in an incredibly difficult and competitive league. We know that we're going to have to do more and I've had some frank discussions with the club about what the future looks like and they've been, as they have been for everything, really outstanding at understanding that we want to keep our progression going. First thing is finishing the league on Sunday, and then go into next season and be competitive against some incredible teams."