FA WSL: 2018 in Review

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It was, perhaps, apt that the bumper 2017/18 FA Women’s Super League (FA WSL) campaign was bookended by two announcements from Notts County Football Club.

It feels like a lifetime ago but incredibly it is just a mere 13 months since Notts County Ladies were folding on the eve of the FA WSL 1 Spring Series kicking off.

On the morning of the final day of the season last Sunday the club announced they were returning to the women’s game as Notts County Women but it’s thought it will initially be on a much smaller scale than its previous top-tier side.

I remember standing in the City Academy by the training pitch watching Nick Cushing’s side training ahead of their first Champions League semifinal with Lyon. A few hours, later I watched the champions train. Hegerberg, Morgan, Marozsán, Renard, et al. were on hand to watch from close range and it somewhat laid out bare the differences between the top and the strugglers in the women’s game.

In some respect, the Notts County news set the tone for a chaotic, eventful, emotional, and dramatic year that culminated at the weekend with Chelsea sealing an unbeaten season in fashion and City ensuring they will once again be in the Champions League come next season.

It was an 18 months that kicked off with three American superstars joining the big three FA WSL 1 clubs, saw England crash out of the Euros at the semifinal stage and lead to a story that would be discussed by the masses like no other in the women’s game, and culminated in head coach Mark Sampson being sacked in disgrace in September.

Around the same time, it was announced that the FA WSL would be restructured for 2018/19 and at the time of this writing the clubs in question are a mere 72 hours from discovering their fate for next season.

We watched on as it became clear Phil Neville would replace Sampson as England head coach and went through another round of controversy as tweets from several years ago surfaced of some less than easy-on-the-eye comments about women which he had to deal with in length at his first press briefing.

It saw a well-respected and well-liked goalkeeper announce she was battling thyroid cancer only to return to the field before the season ended and saw a whole host of big names leave the game. At the end of 2016 and into the start of the Spring Series we said goodbye to the likes of Emma Byrne, Rachel Yankey, and Kelly Smith, and last weekend we saw the last of Katie Chapman and Alex Scott in women’s football — on the pitch at least.

England’s Casey Stoney also hung up her boots earlier in 2018 to take on a role with Neville on the international stage, a job the women’s football legend is about to forgo in order to become the first manager of the new Manchester United women’s team.

But aside from all the bad publicity the FA and the FA WSL has received — sometimes deservedly — throughout the last 12 to 18 months, there has been plenty of good to enjoy over the course of the season.

Players have emerged as stars throughout the two leagues, amazing goals have been scored, records have been broken, superstars have been unearthed, and we’ve seen some of the most dramatic games in the FA WSL’s short history.

It’s time to dish out some awards where there’s no trophy and no prestige and really where I’ve just tried to praise and honor as many clubs and players as possible.


Team that Surprised

Reading, with honorable shouts to FA WSL 2 sides Sheffield FC and London Bees.

Save of the Season

(Based on footage available.)

  1. Megan Walsh vs. Arsenal (from own teammate Annie Heatherson)
  2. Ellie Roebuck vs. Chelsea (vs. Drew Spence)
  3. Sophie Baggaley vs. Chelsea (vs. Ji)

Manager of the Season 

  1. Emma Hayes (Chelsea)
  2. Kelly Chambers (Reading)
  3. Lee Burch (Millwall)

Moment of the Season 

  1. Ann-Katrin Berger’s return.
  2. “Stand up for the Manchester”
  3. The FA WSL community standing by Yeovil Town and Millwall.

FA WSL 1 Awards

Best Signing

  1. Maren Mjelde (Chelsea)
  2. Ellen White (Birmingham City)
  3. Fara Williams (Reading)

Breakout Star

  1. Lauren Hemp (Bristol City)
  2. Ellie Roebuck (Manchester City)
  3. Beth England (Liverpool)

Underrated Heroes

  • Victoria Williams (Sunderland)
  • Brooke Chaplen (Reading)
  • Sophie Ingle (Liverpool)
  • Hayley Ladd (Birmingham City)

Game of the Season 

  1. Manchester City 2-2 Chelsea
  2. Chelsea 3-2 Arsenal
  3. Arsenal 4-4 Liverpool
  4. Yeovil Town 2-3 Bristol City
  5. Arsenal 3-2 Birmingham City

Goal of the Season

  1. Lauren Hemp (Bristol City) vs. Arsenal
  2. Remi Allen (Reading) vs. Manchester City
  3. Lucy Staniforth (Sunderland) vs. Bristol City
  4. Charlie Wellings (Birmingham City) vs. Everton
  5. Lucy Staniforth (Sunderland) vs. Liverpool
  6. Georgia Stanway (Manchester City) vs. Chelsea
  7. Ji So-yun (Chelsea) vs. Birmingham City
  8. Fara Williams (Reading) vs. Liverpool
  9. Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal) vs. Manchester City
  10. Dominique Janssen (Arsenal) vs. Liverpool

Young Player of the Season 

  1. Lauren Hemp (Bristol City)
  2. Leah Williamson (Arsenal)
  3. Keira Walsh (Manchester City)

Player of the Season 

  1. Fran Kirby (Chelsea)
  2. Ji So-yun (Chelsea)
  3. Nikita Parris (Manchester City)

FA WSL 1 Young Team of the Season

(Only FA WSL 1 due to lack of footage, highlights, and so on.)

  • GK: Ellie Roebuck
  • RB: Faye Bryson
  • CB: Leah Williamson
  • CB: Gabby George
  • CB: Ellie Stewart
  • LB: Aoife Mannion
  • CM: Keira Walsh
  • CM: Bridget Galloway
  • CM: Georgia Stanway
  • FW: Charlie Wellings
  • FW: Lauren Hemp

FA WSL 1 Team of the Season

(Only FA WSL 1 due to lack of footage, highlights, and so on.)

  • GK: Megan Walsh
  • RB: Jess Carter
  • CB: Millie Bright
  • CB: Kirsty Pearce
  • LB: Demi Stokes
  • CM: Maren Mjelde
  • CM: Ji So-yun
  • CM: Remi Allen
  • RW: Nikita Parris
  • FW: Ellen White
  • LW: Fran Kirby


Best Signing

  1. Katie Wilkinson (London Bees)
  2. Zoe Ness (Durham)
  3.  Mel Johnson (Sheffield FC)

Breakout Star

  1. Ebony Salmon (Aston Villa)
  2. Ella Rutherford (Millwall)
  3. Mel Johnson (Sheffield FC)

Underrated Heroes

  • Nicki Gears (Durham)
  • Chloe Jones (Aston Villa)
  • Sherry McCue (Sheffield FC)
  • Chloe Chivers (Oxford United)

Game of the Season 

  1. Aston Villa 5-4 Durham
  2. Tottenham Hotspur 6-3 Durham
  3. Sheffield FC 4-3 Tottenham Hotspur
  4. Sheffield FC 3-2 Oxford United
  5. Doncaster Rovers Belles 3-3 Everton

Goal of the Season

(Based on available footage.)

  1. Jess Sigsworth (Doncaster Rovers Belles) vs. Durham
  2. Kayleigh Hines (Oxford United) vs. Millwall
  3. Jenna Dear (Sheffield FC) vs. Watford
  4. Rianna Dean (Millwall) vs. Oxford United
  5. Jordan Atkinson (Durham) vs. Millwall
  6. Kate Natkiel (Brighton) vs. Oxford United
  7. Leigh Nicol (Millwall) vs. Durham
  8. Katie Wilkinson (London Bees) vs. Aston Villa
  9. Beth Merrick (Aston Villa) vs. Watford
  10. Maz Pacheco (Doncaster Belles) vs. Watford

Young Player of the Season 

  1. Kirsty Hanson (Doncaster Rovers Belles)
  2. Ebony Salmon (Aston Villa)
  3. Ella Rutherford (Millwall)

 Player of the Season 

  1. Jess Sigsworth (Doncaster Rovers Belles)
  2. Beth Hepple (Durham)
  3. Megan Alexander (Millwall)