Two iconic names, one prestigious competition and a guest of honour who, besides being capped 17 times by England, enjoyed great success with both clubs.
This weekend’s Women’s FA Cup tie between Sheffield United Ladies and their counterparts from Leeds is what Lee Walshaw describes as a “proper football match.”
“It’s got all the ingredients of being a really good game,” Walshaw, the Ladies’ general manager, said last night. “It’s a Yorkshire derby, in a brilliant tournament and Tony Currie, who starred for ourselves and Leeds, is going to be the guest of honour.”
Sunday’s fixture, which kicks-off at noon, is significant for a number of reasons. Not only could United be paired with a Premier League side in the first round proper if they win, it also marks the Ladies first appearance at Bramall Lane since being taken ‘in-house’ by the Championship club. It is a move Walshaw, the former United midfielder, acknowledges has helped bring new levels of professionalism to a squad which, after lifting last season’s East Midlands Premier League title, has ambitions of competing at Women’s Super League level within the next five years.
“It’s definitely focused everybody,” he said. “On and off the pitch. Obviously, in terms of the facilities now available to us, there’s a huge difference there. But even things like seeing images of the players going up at the Steelphalt Academy, where everybody trains, rams it home. Having our team picture done at the stadium does too. I just think, in terms of the mind-set, things like that have a really important effect.”
The similarities with United’s men’s teams stretch beyond promotions and official photo calls.
Chris Wilder’s side, who finished 14 points clear of second place in League One last term, boast an enviable reputation for developing their own talent with David Brooks, Harry Maguire and Kyle Walker among those to progress through the system in recent years. United Ladies appear to possess a similar knack with Eve Marshall, aged 16, expected to be involved against Leeds after impressing coaches at their Regional Training Centre.
“Eve has come through and she’s been involved with the first team this year,” Walshaw explained. “It goes to show that you can learn your skills and progress here with us.
“You see young lads like Brooksy and Regan Slater coming through with the men. We want to do the same things too, it’s important.”
n United Ladies versus Leeds United, Sunday (kick-off noon), Bramall Lane. Admission via the Hualing Stand turnstiles is priced £3 adults and £2 concessions.