At Nottingham Forest, they’ve three, main teams in regular action, the Seniors in the FA Women’s National League North, the Reserves in the Reserves Midlands Division, and the Development side in the East Midlands Women’s Regional Football League Division One South.
The middle of that trio, Nottingham Forest Reserves, is fronted by Sarah Richardson and her coaching team, and, like their senior counterparts, have the small matter of a strong, Wolverhampton Wanderers side to contend with on a regular basis.
Currently second in the Reserves league, and with a trip to Wolverhampton scheduled for later this month, Richardson’s second string are looking to complete what, at present, looks to be their highest placing since a runners-up spot back in 2013 (they finished fourth in 2014, and fifth in 2020).
It’s been a productive season to date, the Reds having netted five or more on seven occasions, and hit double figures twice already, both on the road, at Doncaster Rovers Belles Development (10-0 on 26 September) and at Bedworth United Development (16-1 on 7 November), with Summa Betts and Arryana Daniels both in double figures heading towards the business end of the season.
“I started here, at Forest, close to six years ago, with the RTC’s,” began Sarah of her time with the Reds.
“My background has always been a sporting one, with aspirations of a full-time career.
“Taking the Reserves job though, was certainly something I jumped at the chance of doing.”
Being stuck in the middle, Sarah could be seen to get the best of both worlds, any returning players for the seniors, and any development players looking to step-up, and, throughout the current campaign alone, has been able to call upon the services of first-teamers Sophia Bonser, Alice Higginbottom, Naomi Powell, Niamh Reynolds, Poppy Scholefield, Charlotte Steggles, Sophie Tudor and Grace Walters.
For Sarah though, football is pretty much her life these days, alongside working in the family property business, it’s affording time to concentrate of her footballing endeavours.
“Yes, I need to produce players for Andy (Cook), like the Devs do for us, it’s just a case of adapting to any given situation,” continued Sarah.
“It’s swings and roundabouts, but things also have to be right, from all sides, because you never know as to what is going to happen, week in, week out, but they all wear that Forest badge, and that’s what matters.”
On the field of play, this season. Forest Reserves have won nine and drawn three of the fourteen, league outings to date; it’s a record which sees them five adrift of leaders Wolves, who are still to taste defeat.
In fact, of the two draws inflicted on the leaders, one of those came at Forest, back in mid-October, a 1-1 draw, Bonser’s first half goal cancelled out with fifteen remaining by Anna Bebb and for Forest, their record so far gives them a little breathing space over third place West Bromwich Albion Reserves – even if the Reds have played a handful more than those around them.
“This season, it’s certainly giving goose bumps,” admitted Sarah,
“It’s not been an easy one either, and a lot of credit needs to go to my assistant coach (Aston Dyer), and my strength & conditioning coach (Tom Keeney), for the work they’ve put in.
“Although you have to be realistic, everything is quite positive, injuries withstanding that is.
“As for Wolves, even in general, they’ve a great set-up and resources there that allows them to do what they do.
“Credit to them for that, and they’re doing really – but any team can be beaten, and the draw we had against them, it was a fantastic result for us.”
Having played for the club herself, Sarah’s focus is, most certainly, on her progression form within that of the beautiful game.
She knows what she wants, and continues to both progress, and impress, continuing to do what she loves.
“It’s life, and that’s not an exaggeration – there’s just no switching off,” stated Sarah.
“From school, I’ve always done something sporting, but the focus for me now is completing the UEFA A (Coaching) Licence.
“Football is football though, irrespective of gender, and my long-term goal, like anyone really, is to be at the top end of the Women’s Super League, or maybe to work in the men’s game.
“Right now though, it’s about my realizing my capacity, and doing what I can for Forest.”
Next up for Sarah Richardson’s Nottingham Forest Women, is a trip to the Sir Jack Hayward Training Ground, and Wolverhampton Wanderers Women Reserves, on Sunday 27 February, in the Reserves Midlands Division, for what will be a top-of-the-table clash.
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @NFFCWomen Women’s Reserve team Manager Sarah Richardson.