When Rachel Furness celebrated winning the Women’s Championship with Bristol City at Ashton Gate last month, it was a case of deja vu. Just twelve months earlier, she had experienced the same promotion feeling at the same ground – but with a different team. As a Northern Ireland midfielder, Furness had helped Liverpool beat Bristol City at Ashton Gate to secure promotion to the Women’s Super League (WSL). In January, Furness left the Reds in search of more game time and her experience paid off as City won the league in front of a record crowd of 7,045 with one match to go, sitting four points clear of Birmingham City in second.
Furness said that the win was extra special due to the pressure that was on the young and inexperienced squad. She was proud to have achieved promotion back-to-back, and felt that the team deserved it. Since their promotion to the WSL, Bristol City have confirmed that the women will play all their home matches at Ashton Gate next season. This is indicative of the growing support for the team, which has been bolstered by closer integration with the men’s team and the addition of former England defender Anita Asante to the backroom staff last summer.
Furness noted that there were two completely different feelings between her two promotions. At Liverpool, there was an expectation to win due to their squad, money and size, whereas at Bristol City it was much harder due to the competitive nature of the Championship season. She was proud to have been a part of what they achieved, and noted that she had learned a lot about herself in the last year – both on and off the pitch.
Furness is out of contract in June and does not know if she will remain with City next season in the WSL. She said that she still feels she can give something and is trying to enjoy it while she can. Football is a rollercoaster, with highs and lows, and Furness is grateful for these moments.