Cardiff City FC Women | 2022/23 Season Review
It was a breakthrough season for Cardiff City FC Women, who claimed two pieces of silverware in a remarkable campaign.
Iain Darbyshire’s side secured top spot in the Adran Premier to be named champions of Wales for the second time in the Club’s history.
The Bluebirds also retained the FAW Women’s Cup, while it was an equally successful year for the age-grade sides in the Women’s programme at the Club.
After a fantastic campaign, which resulted in six trophies across three age groups, we look back at the season in review.
A successful system
One of the key parts of the side’s success was a change in system, which contributed to some fine displays over the course of the campaign.
Moving to a back three with wing-backs, Ffion Price’s performances saw her named Adran Premier Player of the Season, while captain Siobhan Walsh was nominated for the award, after being named City’s Players’ Player of the Season.
In addition, fellow defender Megan Bowen, who signed for the Bluebirds from Barry Town United at the start of the season, claimed City’s Young Player of the Year award, whilst being nominated for the Adran Premier Young Player of the Season.
The Bluebirds’ change of system contributed to Danielle Green having a remarkable campaign, which culminated in the wing-back being named City’s Player of the Season.
On the change of style, Green commented: “I feel like the change in formation definitely helped us as a squad in terms of being able to utilise our strengths and depth in the right areas across the pitch.
“Playing as a wing-back has definitely been a change, but one I’ve really enjoyed and I hope I can continue to improve and work on for next season.”
A memorable win at CCS
One of many highlights during the campaign was playing at Cardiff City Stadium against Abergavenny Women, in which the Bluebirds broke the attendance record for a domestic league fixture in Wales, with a fantastic 5,175 fans supporting.
On a memorable occasion, City showed their talent to earn three points, whilst taking a positive step for the women’s game in Wales.
Reflecting on the experience, defender Bowen said: “At the time, it was the new record, so we set the standard and that’s what we want to do. We don’t just want to be winning games, but we also want to draw more attention to the women’s game.
“It’s growing all the time in the English pyramid, but that night really showed that we can get the support in Wales and that’s crucial.”
Another huge highlight during the campaign were the returns of defender Lisa Owen after giving birth, as well as Catherine Walsh, following a long-term injury.
With Owen making her first appearance of the season against Abergavenny Women in the FAW Women’s Cup, the wing-back marked her return with a memorable goal to open the scoring.
Fast forward two months and there was another emotional goal scored by a returning Bluebird. After suffering an ACL injury in the previous season, midfielder Walsh came on as a substitute at The New Saints having completed her road to recovery.
Like Owen, Walsh marked her return by getting on the scoresheet, heading home from a pinpoint Price corner in a 5-1 win.
A second title in City’s history
After adapting to the change of system admirably, as well as gaining momentum from playing at CCS, the Bluebirds went on to have a fantastic league campaign.
Darbyshire’s side went the whole league season unbeaten, with the opportunity to secure the league title coming in a home fixture against The New Saints.
Despite Price’s opening goal being cancelled out by a Saints equaliser, captain Walsh stepped up with two crucial goals to secure top spot, ten years on from the Club’s first title.
Three weeks later, City lifted the trophy at Cardiff City Stadium, after beating Swansea City Ladies 3-1 in the final league game of the campaign.
Recalling a memorable moment in her career, Green added: “Before the start of the TNS game, emotions were running wild a little bit. We knew we had no pressure as we still had games to play, but deep down, we knew we wanted to get the job done in that game, but we also knew how difficult TNS would be to break down.
“When the final whistle blew and we knew we had won the league, it was extremely overwhelming but such a proud moment that I’ll cherish forever.
“Myself and a few of the girls have waited what feels like a life time to lift that trophy so to know that we finally did it, was such an amazing achievement, and to do it unbeaten, just shows how hard we worked for this.”
Retaining the FAW Women’s Cup
On the final day of the campaign, the Bluebirds faced Briton Ferry Llansawel aiming to claim the FAW Women’s Cup for a second consecutive season.
Darbyshire’s side did just that, with Eliza Collie, midfielder Walsh, Price and Rhianne Oakley on the scoresheet in a 4-0 win.
The victory saw the Bluebirds end the campaign on a high, having secured the league title and the FAW Women’s Cup.
On the successful season, Bowen said: “It’s a massive achievement to win the league and the FAW Women’s Cup back-to-back, but it doesn’t stop here. We want to win all three next season and we’ve put so much pressure on ourselves this season, it’s down to us to take that into next year now.
“We don’t just want it to be a one-time thing, we want to make sure that it’s just the start. That’s up to us now and we have to keep pushing and improving.”
A bright future
It was also a hugely successful campaign for both the U19s and U16s, who claimed an impressive amount of silverware.
Noah Bushby’s U19s were crowned Adran South U19 winners, before going on to defeat Wrexham in the play-off final to earn the right to be called national champions.
The U19s’ hard work earned them opportunities in the first-team, with three debuts made by Megan Waite, Lauren Payne and Olivia Basham in the penultimate league game of the season against Cardiff Metropolitan University.
The U19s side was captained by defender Summer Bowen Quirk, who recalled a memorable campaign: “I don’t think I can quite put into words how proud I am of each and every one of the girls this season. There’s been a tremendous effort from all of them, the coaches and everyone working behind the scenes also included in this. To achieve what we have this season as a result of this hard work is certainly a gratifying feeling.
“It’s been a genuine privilege to be a part of this team. Not only are they exceptional assets on the pitch, but they are also a blessing to know as people. Being surrounded by people as talented and compassionate as this is certainly an honour and I’m so grateful I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in the way that I have been.”
At U16s level, despite a competitive title-race with Barry Town United, the Bluebirds were crowned SWWGL U16 Division One champions, before going on to claim the SWWGL League Cup.
The season was an inaugural campaign for manager Dave Carroll and assistant Tom Stiley, who led the side to great success.
Looking back on his first season at the Club, Carroll said: “I’ve been beyond proud of my team’s achievements this year. Their attitude and application in training and games has been brilliant. They really are a result of their own hard work. I’m so proud of them and the journey they have been on both on and off the pitch.
“I’m absolutely delighted that we won two trophies. The determination and effort from the team was fantastic and they truly deserved it. My intention and goal from the start of the season was to develop players both on and off the pitch. As a result of their sheer determination and hard work, they’ve achieved great things.”
Following their success on the pitch throughout the 2022/23 season, on May 10th, Tan Sri Vincent Tan invited the Club’s title-winning Women’s side to experience London Craft Week 2023's Abstract Nature exhibition first hand, joining esteemed guests Her Majesty Queen Azizah of Malaysia and former Prime Minister, David Cameron.
The exhibition - designed and curated by Judith Clark alongside architect Ryan Cook - highlighted craft skills that have their roots in the country's indigenous communities. The installation itself inspired by traditional Malaysian architecture’s proportions, include master craftsmen at work as well as providing interactive workshops for the visitors.
Speaking about their successes, Tan Sri said: “Cardiff City's Women's team were invited to come here and experience Malaysian culture, while we congratulated them on a great season. I hope they will continue to be as successful as they are. Our Queen is very gracious. She took photos and spoke with our Women's team and even lifted the trophy. It was a very nice moment for us all.”