Doncaster Belles: Staniforth wants Belles to bounce back

Gordon Staniforth. Picture: Kevin Neagle
Gordon Staniforth. Picture: Kevin Neagle

Gordon Staniforth has vowed to rebuild Doncaster Rovers Belles in an attempt to bounce straight back to women’s top flight, writes Hayley Paterson.

New boss Staniforth replaced John Buckley at the helm last month and is working alongside newly appointed director of football Julie Chipchase following the club’s controversial relegation from FAWSL1.

The ex-York City and Carlisle striker has wasted little time in getting to know his squad ahead of the club’s FAWSL2 bow - drawing up contracts for the majority of Belles’ existing players.

He has also offered coaching roles to star players Sue Smith and Leandra Little - currently being courted by several FAWSL1 clubs - in a bid to keep them at Doncaster.

Belles will play outside of the game’s top flight for the first time in their history in 2014 after failing to meet FA criteria for an FAWSL1 licence.

Staniforth said: “I don’t see Doncaster Rovers Belles as a FAWSL2 club.

“We want to be in the top flight, we want to bounce back.

“It’s about restructuring and rebuilding, that’s what myself, Julie and the board are all hoping to do.”

“I’m thoroughly enjoying the job so far, it has been fantastic to be out on the pitch and working with the team,” continued Staniforth.

“Myself and Julie have been working on a number of things on and off the pitch and bit by bit we’re getting there.

“I’ve spoken to every player on a one-to-one basis to see where they see themselves at the club and what they want to achieve. They seem happy with what is happening here.

“I have had some great insights into the players and how they see the club.

He added: “Leandra Little and Sue Smith will come onto the coaching team and be more involved as coaches, particularly because of their sports science knowledge and experience in the game.

“There will be bigger roles for both Leandra and Sue because we want them here for as long as possible, they have qualities that we need and want here.

“Beth England is also getting help with their legal studies through BPP University (the club’s Law school investors) and there are others who would like to take on coaching badges and other roles, both sporting and academic.

“We’re wanting to shape the players as all-round individuals and give them a life after football. I’m very keen for that to happen.”

Staniforth said he will have the players in post-Christmas for training and that friendlies were already being lined up in the New Year against the likes of FA WSL champions Liverpool and Notts County Ladies.

He said: “We’ll be getting the squad in for testing in December which will be based at Sheffield Hallam University and go through aspects such as fitness and nutrition to see where each player is at.”

As well as keeping hold of the first team, the 56-year-old told the Free Press he was keen to add to the squad.

He added: “I’ve had a long list of people who have sent me emails regarding players.

“Any players coming in will have to be better than what I have got. That will be the hard part.”