WE KICK: Cramlington United LFC

We found out about Northumberland League leaders Cramlington United, who last Sunday reached their first ever cup final with a 2-1 win over Whitley Bay Development in the League Cup semi-finals.

How did the club and particularly your team get started?
Cramlington United was formed in the summer of 2010, and within 12 months were awarded Community Club Status, a feat which is not only unique in the Northumberland area but in the whole of the UK. The club was the result of a merge between Cramlington Blue Star and Cramlington Burnside. The women’s team has been running for approximately 8 years and was originally formed under Cramlington Blue Star until it was reformed in 2010 as Cramlington Untied, it was managed for a many years by Amy Foggett. In 2014 Mark Hedley took over as manager and has been in charge since. In April 2012 we formed a unique sponsorship with Teenage Cancer Trust, the association was the first of its kind as no other grass roots football club has a relationship with a charity in this manner.

Tell us your some of the players’ best nicknames and why they have them.
Sarah Fairlamb – Chief. Sarah plays 5-a-side football and organises games, tournaments and all the travel, she’s in charge therefore she gets “Chief”.
Amber Witson – Nana. Amber has the soul of an old person, is fueled by cups of tea and always has tissues at the ready! She has been known to turn up to matches with a blanket just incase she gets too cold! It’s worth mentioning that Amber is only 17!
Rachel Best – Besty – that’s pretty self-explanatory.
Beth Richardson – Betty, in a previous team there was too many Beth’s so got the nickname Betty!
Bethany Heyward – Bella
Do you have a fairly-settled team?
Definitely, the past couple of seasons coaches at Cramlington United have focused on developing youth football, and have started girls teams from U-10s upwards. This season we have started to reap the rewards of all that effort and the girls are stepping up to the senior team. The seniors train alongside the U-18s and some of the U-18s are now playing senior football. As a result we have a large squad but we’re a tight-knit bunch that play for each other and offer support at each other’s games.

How did the 2014/15 season go for you, what did you expect from 2015/16 and who are your biggest rivals?
14/15 was a period of transition for our squad, we had a few changes in management and always knew we just needed to find our feet that season. We finished 5th in the league with some great results surprising many along the way and reached the semi-finals in the league cup, unfortunately being knocked out by local rivals Whitley Bay Development. Going into 15/16 we’ve settled as a squad and had a good pre-season, we’re currently sit top of the league with a place in the final of the league cup having knocked out Whitley Bay Development (the same semi-final fixture as the previous season) in a close encounter that finished 2-1. We also recently reached the semi-finals of the Northumberland County Cup, we drew Newcastle United Reserves which was an amazing opportunity. We held our own and at half time it was 0-0, however experience and fitness prevailed in the second half with the NUWFC ladies going on to win 6-0.
Tell us a top fact about your team:
Our team made history on 13th March 2016 by booking a place in their first ever cup final match, this shows how far this team has come in just a few short years.
Who is your captain and tell us a bit about her (nickname, background, what she’s good at and not good at)?
Our captain is Gemma Laurie (nicknamed “the tank”) she’s 24 and plays centre back. Gemma has a wicked long throw and a deadly combination of pace and strength. One of the longest serving players at the club, having always played club football for Cramlington United, she’s previously played school and county football. Gemma has only ever scored 1 goal for Cramlington United in her time with the club.
What about your coach / manager – Are they serious, funny, good / bad and why?
Mark Hedley – What can we say about Mark? We can say he’s funny, he tries to be serious but he sometimes can’t get a word in edge ways. He’s dedicated and committed to both the U-18s and the senior squads and gives up both Saturdays and Sundays to be on the sideline.
Tell us a funny moment the team shared:
Someone made a remark that one of our players, Linda Ulker, gets hit in the face with a ball quite frequently – ever since this was mentioned, Linda has blocked a ball with her face at least once every time she’s played and it gets funnier each time it happens.

Who is the team’s jock (the fittest) and who is the joker?
Emma Graham is the fittest on the team; she commands midfield and wins every header – even at 5ft 3!
The joker has to be a tie between Amber Witson – because she’s constantly in the middle of all the trouble and Brooke Hayward – recently pulled off a match-winning save that got a reaction from most in attendance, then we notice Brooke clapping herself – it takes a certain type to be a goalkeeper!
Does the team / club have an unsung hero?
Pat “the stat” O’Donnell – Pat is the man behind all the text messages to and from players and parents, he organises pitches and referees, he’s a regular linesman for most games and self-declared statistician; without him we’d be lost!
Who is always first to the bar / on the dancefloor on a night out?
Bar – Mark, he needs it putting up with us lot!
Dancefloor – Gemma Laurie! 

Action photo by Colin Lock

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