'Affordable, accessible, enjoyable': United Women are ready to inspire

Tuesday 13 September 2022 11:30

Manchester United Women’s league season will finally get under way this weekend, when Marc Skinner’s team welcome Reading to Leigh Sports Village (Saturday 17 September, 12:00 BST).

The side were due to kick off last Saturday with a trip to Tottenham Hotspur, but all Women’s Super League fixtures were postponed as a mark of respect following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

But the positive for the Reds is that we’ll now start 2022/23 at home, and hardcore United Women fan Deb Henry is hoping the club can maximise the buzz around England’s Euro 2022 success and get more people down to cheer the team on.

Reds get green light for Reading WSL game


United can begin the Women's Super League campaign this coming Saturday, following a statement by the FA.

“There’s been a great number of tickets sold for the first home game as Leigh,” she says, excitedly. “Thankfully now there is a shuttle bus that runs between Old Trafford and Leigh too, so that will really help people [to get to the ground]. 
“But it's about sustaining that: getting people in the door and getting them to come back again. If we're not going to maximise the Euros, then what else can we use?!

“It's affordable. It's probably the most accessible top-level football. People talk about ‘let's get little girls to games and inspire them,’ but let's not limit it. Let's get little boys there too, so they can see women's football is enjoyable. So that it becomes normal for them.”
United Women finished fourth in the WSL last term – just a few points shy of the third position that would have entitled us to a Champions League spot for the very first time. But Henry believes the Reds are going places under Skinner, who is preparing for his second season in charge.
“This time last year we were all a bit anxious,” she admits. “We didn't know what our level was. We didn't know what we could achieve. A lot of people were saying: If we get top half, we'll be happy. 
“But if not for a few really disappointing draws, we could have ended up with Champions League football. We were close. I know that doesn't count for anything, but I'd like to think we can push on this year. For me, it's down to the players. 
“As a person, I like him [Skinner]. We were at risk of stagnating with Casey [Stoney], I think, and I like what he's done. I like the way we play, I think he's done a great job and he’s doing a great job. I hope he can bring success to the club.”

'The women's team caught me off guard'


Meet the diehard Red in our latest United Review handshake illustration, Fans’ Forum rep Deb Henry.

And if you are one of those people who is yet to experience a United Women game, Henry has a word or two of encouragement.
“In terms of atmosphere, we like to think every fan can get the experience they want,” she explains. “That might be: 'I'm just going to sit very quietly with my family and enjoy the game, and get a few autographs at the end.’ 
“But if you want to go and sing with people, you can do that as well. We don't say: ‘This is the way it is.’ If you want to come on your own, there will be other people who are more than happy for you to stand with them.
“When the team was first reformed, it wasn't me that was saying: ‘Let's go.’ It was my husband. He was saying: ‘It's £39 for a season ticket, let's do it.’ At the time, I was thinking: that could be a men’s game on Saturday and a women’s game on Sunday. 
“Now in hindsight I realise that's actually good thing! A lot of us [United Women] fans have said we didn't expect to be taken with the team as quickly as we have been. There was a moment very early on, just realising how much it meant to me, how much it meant to us all. It caught me out.
“The players give you their all. They wear the badge with pride.”


Tickets for United v Reading in the Women's Super League this Saturday 17 September at 12:00 BST are on sale to all supporters, online via tickets.manutd.com, and hospitality seats are available in shared Executive Boxes.

Coach travel from Old Trafford to Leigh Sports Village can also be booked in advance.