A New Dawn for Portsmouth

Published: 14/08/2023

By Ian Chiverton. Photos by Jason Brown

This summer will go down as one of the biggest in the history of Portsmouth Women FC.  The Women’s team moving under the ownership of Tornante is headline news enough, but it was announced alongside the news that the club will be moving to a semi-professional model.

Pompey had a fantastic season in 22/23 finishing 4th just 6 points from Champions Watford.  Moving to a semi-professional model has taken the recruitment shackles off manager Jay Sadler who has now been able to target players who demand a wage, something the club has previously never done.

Pompey has seen some departures. Dan Rowe, Mae Goulden, Libby Kingshott, Anisha Hill, Leanne Bell, Anaisa Harney, Sammy Quayle and Taylor Mcdonald have all left.  A special mention for Dan Rowe and Sammy Quayle, 228 appearances between them with Dan having Captained the team over the last few seasons.  We wish them and all the departing players the very best.

The squad see’s 7 new additions ahead of the new season.  Let’s take a look at those in the order they joined.

Georgie Freeland: 21yo Georgie joins the club with a wealth of experience for a player so young.  She won the Southern Division in 21/22 and has since been playing in the Championship. An attacking winger with an eye for goal.

Kelci Bowers: 19yo defender Kelci arrives following her departure from Louisianna State University. Kelci was part of the England Youth teams from U14 to U19 which shows her calibre.

Ella Humphrey: Ella joins Pompey having had a successful loan from Brighton in the 2022/23 season.  Ella is a versatile player who will give Jay cover across multiple positions.

Leeta Rutherford:  One of the biggest Pompey Women Legends of all time, Leeta rejoins Pompey.  With 12 seasons and 215 Pompey appearances already under her belt the midfielder is a statement signing.  Leeta was previously a member of two Pompey title winning squads and has played at a higher level for 3 different clubs.  She brings a wealth of experience to our young squad.

Riva Casley: 24yo Defender Riva joins from league rivals Oxford.  She was Oxford’s Captain during their title chasing campaign last season.   Another player who has experience playing at higher levels she wouldn’t have been short of offers in the summer.  The fact Jay has persuaded her to join in quite a statement.

Beth Lumsden: A player I have admired for some time, I always hated it when we played against her so I’m delighted she will be wearing the royal blue.  The 24yo forward is a formidable player at this level.  27 goals in 33 appearances in the 21/22 campaign for Oxford shows that. Another player with Championship experience. She has already been scoring loads of goals during pre-season and she will be a key player in the coming campaign.

Beth takes aim in the 2-2 draw against Reading in pre-season

Emily Pitman: 18yo Emily joins from Arsenal’s under 21 team following an impressive trial during pre-season.  The hard working forward has been scoring regularly during pre-season and will bolster Jays forward options.

Jay’s squad now consists of 23 players and he has multiple options in every position.  I’ve been impressed with Tornante’s backing of the Women’s team.  Some would say long overdue, but fans should be delighted with the direction the team are going.

Jay’s recruitment has been very impressive.  Not only has he recruited a lot of high calibre players with higher level experience, but more than half the signings have Portsmouth supporting families.   They will know what it means to wear the shirt and could give the team an edge in the coming season.

During the summer the League made a huge announcement regarding promotion from Tier 3.  Previously you would need to win the division then play the winners of Tier 3 North in an “all or nothing” match for a place in the Championship.  That is no longer the case, if you win Tier 3 from 23/24 you will go straight into the Championship.  This has been demanded by clubs for a long time and there is now a huge incentive to go for the League title.

On paper Pompey have one of the strongest squads in the division and they have been impressive in pre-season.  However football isn’t played on paper and Jay and his squad will know they need to hit the ground running.  As we saw last season, at only 22 games the League season is short and consistency will be key.

The season starts on 20th August with Pompey hosting Cheltenham at Westleigh Park.  With Season tickets available at £44 for adults and just £11 for Under 17 ,  that is ridiculous value for money to watch the standard of players we have at Pompey.

It’s the dawn of an exciting new era for our Women’s team so come down and be part of it. I promise you won’t regret it.