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"There's a more personal connection to the players... it's lost in the men's game": What it's really like being a Barclays FA Women's Super League fan

Man City women vs Chelsea women
(Image credit: Getty Images)

This article is part of our Ultimate Guide to the Barclays FA Women's Super League and FA Women's Championship

Women's Football Weekend is designed to put a spotlight on the Barclays FA Women's Super League and FA Women's Championship, bringing in new fans to the game.

Many will have got their first taste of women's football over the weekend, whether from the North London Derby, the top-of-the-table clash between Durham and Liverpool in the FA Women's Championship, or the battle between last season's first and second placed Barclays FA Women's Super League sides, Chelsea and Manchester City.

FourFourTwo reached out to Jayne Comer, the women's representative on Manchester City's fan network City Matters, to ask her what newcomers to the women's game can expect...

FFT: When did you start watching football?

Jayne Comer: I have always watched football from as far back as I can remember. I was brought up in the shadow of City's old ground Maine Road, and my primary school was even on the car park – so right from the beginning, there was never going to be any other team for me.

I have been a season ticket holder for more years than I care to remember and enjoy supporting the club at all levels (youth team, reserves, men's and women's teams... it's all just City to me) home and abroad year in year out.

How has women's football changed in the time you've been watching?

I think investment and more teams turning professional has seen an inevitable knock-on effect in terms of quality and levels, substantially rising over the time I have followed the women's game. 

Where once the facilities offered to women players were below par and nowhere near the level offered to men, clubs like City have worked really hard to even that out. We are very lucky to have world-class facilities available equally to all our players at the City Football Academy and with women players now able to play and train full time, the quality on the pitch has improved drastically, so that is the biggest change for me and one I hope to see continuing.

What do you think is the biggest difference between watching the women's game and the men's game? 

As a fan, there are differences between the matchday experience as a fan of women's football than that of being a men's fan. Barclays FA Women's Super League grounds offer a more family-friendly matchday atmosphere, where rival supporters mix and songs are 'cleaned up' so everyone can join in. 

There was, until Covid intervened, a more personal connection to the players, with most clubs allowing players to meet and greet with the fans after games. This meant young fans could actually interact personally with their heroes, something I feel now lost in the men's game. I hope it is something we can see return post-pandemic when safe to do so.

Pricing is generally much cheaper too, therefore a much more accessible product for families on a budget than a men's game.

However, I feel I should point out that none of this means we as fans don't want our teams to win! 

The result and the passion of the fans, the endeavour of the players and the enjoyment of a day out at the match is exactly the same as fans of the men's game experience. In many cases at my own club these fans are the same people and have the same passion for both the men's and women's teams.

Who's the best Manchester City player you've seen?

Now, this is a very difficult question to answer and I have given it considerable thought. 

At Manchester City over the last seven years, we have been lucky to witness many world-class players. Carli Lloyd, Jill Scott, Steph Houghton Lucy Bronze – all stars at the very top level of the game.  

But for me, seeing Keira Walsh develop from a promising young talent in our first professional season in 2014 into one of the very best midfielders in the world today has been a real joy. Her vision and awareness, combined with her strength,  balance, calmness and passing mean she has everything needed to be a world star. We are truly lucky to be able to watch such a player week in, week out.

If you were to ask me to name another, maybe one to keep an eye on, then Lauren Hemp is also destined for the very top table in world football, trust me!

Who's the best player you've seen from another club in the Barclays FA Women's Super League?

Kim Little at Arsenal is a great player, Fran Kirby of Chelsea has a natural talent too, But for her consistency in performances against City over the years, I will go for Chelsea's Ji So Yun. 

She has always caused the very best City sides problems and has such balance and poise on the ball. A really cultured footballer with a talent that can open up opponents defences at any time

Best goal you've seen in the Barclays FA Women's Super League?

I will go for the volley scorecard by City's Toni Duggan back in 2014 in the last home game that season vs Chelsea.  It won the game, stopped Chelsea winning the title and was eventually awarded City's overall Club Goal of the Season that year beating Premier League stars such as Sergio Aguero and David Silva – the first time at any club this had happened.

What's the best away experience you've had in the Barclays FA Women's Super League?

Away days are a huge part of our Supporters Club. We fund coaches to get our members to as many away days as possible all over the country. We have had some fantastic days out at many grounds over the years, Notts County at Meadow Lane in our early days sticks out, we have beaten Chelsea, Arsenal and United on their own grounds too and those wins are always sweet.

So I really can not pick out just one specific away day as the best ever, as they are all fantastic days out with a fantastic set of supporters and we make the most of it win, lose or draw

What's been your best moment as a fan?

As a City fan I have seen many amazing moments – like Sergio Aguero winning the Premier League with the last kick of the season, for instance. 

Every success for our women's team has an equal thrill for me. We have picked up seven trophies in total since turning professional in 2014. If I were to have to pick one I would say the best single moment is Toni Duggan celebrating with a knee slide after netting the penalty Chelsea that secured our first Barclays FA Women's Super League title back in 2016. A truly Iconic moment never to be forgotten.

Man City women

(Image credit: Jayne Comer)

What would you say to someone who's never watched women's football to convince them to give it a go?

I would implore someone to approach it with an open mind. To forget all the outdated stereotypes aimed at women's football and to go and witness the passion and commitment of both the players and the fans!

I would encourage any family to try an afternoon out at City, to enjoy the varied activities and events the club put on pre-game, then to sit together in a safe,  friendly but passionate atmosphere and support their team with exactly the same level of passion any fan of the men's game would do. 

Come and watch a huge majority of the best players in the world of women's football plying their trade in an amazing league we now have in this country.

It's safe, accessible and much cheaper to watch than men's football,  so I would encourage anyone to give it a go. I'll Bet you enjoy it and will want to come back for more. 

Finally... who do you think will win the Barclays FA Women's Super League this season?

With City being injury-ravaged this season, we have not seen ourselves challenging as we would have hoped this season. 

The title for me is a two-horse race between Arsenal and Chelsea, both of whom are very impressive. 

I would just lean towards Chelsea, due to their previous experience of winning it and the fact that I think they have a squad to cope with the rigours of the run-in. But it will be a close-run thing – Arsenal have impressed me a lot this season too.

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