How Nottingham Forest Women have a perfect platform to build on for the 2022/23 season
Nottingham Forest Women may have ended the season with two pieces of silverware, but for head coach Andy Cook there is still a slight sense of frustration.
The Reds beat AFC Wimbledon to lift the FA Women’s National League plate and beat Mansfield Town 10-1 in the FA Nottinghamshire County Cup final. There is something to be positive about.
There is also a lot to build. For Cook, not being promoted with a fifth-place finish in the FA Women’s National League North is a motivating force ready for the 2022/23 campaign.
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“We’re a bit frustrated with our ranking in the league,” he said. “It’s something we all want to correct next season. The successes are great, the trophies won are brilliant. We are particularly proud of the Plate final.
“But the league is the bread and butter of what you do, and you want to finish as high as possible. It’s something we’re all very disappointed about, that we didn’t finish as high as we could have done. The potential of the team is good and we haven’t really reached our potential in the league this season.
“But the cups are fantastic. With all the investment and hours you put into it, the silverware is what justifies why you do it. That’s why you go there.
“At the end of the day, there can only be one or two winners a season, only a few names on the trophies – and Nottingham Forest are one of them. We’re really proud of that.
“It’s something we want more of next season. The frustrations are there, but the platform to build on is something we think we can build on out of season. We want to make sure that when we come back in July, we will be as ready as possible for next season.
Cook’s side have been part of a memorable 2021/22 season for the whole club. There was a palpable buzz on the banks of the Trent.
As well as their trophy, Forest also broke the National League women’s football attendance record last October. Their home matches are usually played at the Eastwood Community ground, but a crowd of 4,443 was in place at the City Ground for their clash with rivals Derby County.
“The attendance record is something we were really proud of,” Cook said. “Newcastle went and blew it out of the water with 22,000 at St James’ Park. But the fact that we could generate that crowd was brilliant. The people of Nottingham always came out and supported the team.
“The feel-good factor around Nottingham at the moment is brilliant. Not just ourselves, but with the men coming into the Premier League, I think that’s something we need to make sure we can develop. and put on the tails; make sure, as a whole club, that we move forward.
“There is definitely an appetite for women’s football. And there’s definitely an appetite for the team to play at the City Ground, and for the fans to come see us.
“One of the things we can probably use this year is that the men won’t be using this stadium for several weeks, because of the World Cup. I’m sure everyone will be watching the World Cup, but our league will continue and we will continue to play. There is a definite window of opportunity there that I think we have to take control of.
“There is a hope that we can have two or three matches there. That was the plan this season, and we managed to do it. I believe it’s the same next season.
“I think the interest is growing in women’s football. The test will be the number of fans who come through the doors of the Women’s Euro this summer. If they can get good spectators at some of these games, I think that’s a good test of how the game is evolving in this country. And where it could potentially go.
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“We sit in the third tier, which is classed as amateur, but it’s about having that appetite to come and support your football club. Rather than “I’m going to see the women’s team”, it’s just about supporting your football club.
“The Under-18s got 67,000 at Old Trafford to watch them (in the FA Youth Cup final). It wasn’t ‘I’m going to watch the Under-18s play’, it was ‘I’m going to watch Nottingham Forest and support the football club’.
“I think that’s exactly the process. There seems to be a bit more of ‘we are Nottingham Forest fans, it doesn’t matter which team plays, there are 11 people who wear this shirt and represent the football club’. If the Euros get good numbers and attendance, people will also be encouraged to go and watch games across the country next season.
Membership is now on sale for the 2022/23 campaign. Priced at £35 for adults and £20 for concessions, with a family subscription (two adults and two juniors) at £99, it covers entry to all team matches, including those at City Ground.
“It’s not about ‘you have to buy a subscription, you have to go down, you have to watch only the women’s team’, it’s about supporting the football club,” Cook added. “You can buy a subscription to watch the men at the City Ground, and for an extra £20 or £30 you have access to come and watch our games. Ultimately, for the price of what is roughly a ticket to watch the men play, that’s the price of all of our games for the season.