Johnny Cantor: Albion's table-topping women

'We are top of the league. Say we are top of the league!'

Saturday, 3rd October 2015, 6:30 am
Updated Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 2:07 pm

'We are top of the league. Say we are top of the league!'

It's the valid chant for Albion fans as we head into October. Not just the men's team, though.

The Seagulls Women currently sit top of the Premier South Division and - like their male counterparts - remain unbeaten. Played 7, won 6, drawn one, lost, none. Goals for 20; goals against, one.


And that is not to say the division is not competitive, far from it. Teams such as Portsmouth are tough opponents, but even they were eliminated from the cup by the Seagulls on Sunday.

The structure of the women's game has Super League 1 and 2, and then Premier North and South. But, at the Albion, ambition is high.

The management team - including Tracey Doe and James Marrs - are targeting the Champions League in five years. It's a bold aim, but certainly not unrealistic.

Much has changed in the game over the past decade or so. I remember commentating on an England international against Hungary at St Mary's years ago, at a time when you would struggle to recognise the names on the England teamsheet. And, yes, the Hungarians' names were somewhat challenging, too.

Many of us, however, have seen the emergence of exciting players and real personalities.

This weekend at Bolton, Sue Smith, the Doncaster Rovers and England player, was in attendance in the commentary area as she prepares for a possible career in the media.

Smith has seen things change. She was one of the first female players to be handed a central contract by the FA six years ago. Of course, the World Cup and expanded media coverage of the women's game has helped drive the interest.

Locally, the Albion's squad enjoy wonderful facilities at Lancing and this can only help their cause. Promotion is possible from WSL 2 to WSL 1 - and the chance to move up from the Premier Division is opening up.

A cursory glance at the WSL tables would suggest the clubs with big budgets are pushing their women's sides. But, like the men's team, Brighton and Hove Albion are putting in a solid structure and planning steady progress. The hope is to break into the top level. I hope they can realise their dream.

Let's hope that top-of-the-league chant is as relevant at the end of the season as it is now. For both teams.