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Revived Rivals: Women’s championship is set to see three North East teams competing next season. 

By Maizie Berry 

Sunderland vs Durham at Maiden Castle Photo credit: Alamy

Crystal Palace’s 2-0 victory at The Dripping Pan cemented Lewes’ relegation from the Barclays Women’s Championship. As a result, it is confirmed we will be seeing appearances from 3 North-East clubs in the Women’s Championship next season: Durham WFC, Sunderland AFC Women and Newcastle United Women.  

Despite being beaten by the Royals, Durham’s Wildcats will return for their 11th consecutive season in the Women’s Championship after avoiding relegation due to Lewes’ loss. They currently sit 10th in the Championship just above the league’s relegation spots. Meaning the River Wear derby will be returning to Maiden Castle for the 24/25 season as well as the introduction of a new league rivalry between the Magpies and Wildcats.  

Due to Charlton’s 1-0 victory, Sunderland’s race for promotion came to an end just falling short of the league’s top spot. Mel Reay’s side prepare to play likely league-winner’s Crystal Palace away at Selhurst Park on Sunday, to put an end to their notable campaign.  

Earing themselves back-to-back promotion, the Magpies dominated their first season in the Women’s National League North going unbeaten for the entirety of 2023; suffering their only loss to Nottingham Forest in January of this year. Becky Langley’s side gained their promotion after a 10-0 victory over Huddersfield Town at Kingston Park securing a spot in the Championship and one step closer to their aim of the WSL.  

Most recently, in March, Sunderland played Durham in the home fixture of their 23/24 season. The latest matchup saw an eight-goal game with the Lasses claiming a 5-3 victory. The three points played an integral role in Sunderland’s promotional race at the time. Sunderland’s top scorer Emily Scarr was the first to make her way onto the scoresheet, later accompanied by teammates McAteer who scored a brace on the day as well as Jenna Dear and Kate Watson also getting on the scoresheet. Durham’s Molly Lambert also bagged herself a brace accompanied by Beth Hepple’s stunning free-kick which was later awarded March’s goal of the month in the Championship. 

The Tyne-and-Wear Derby will be making an exciting first appearance in the Women’s Championship after the 23/24 pre-season clash between the sides which saw Sunderland claim a 4-2 victory over the Magpies. Summer signings Dear and McAteer found themselves on the scoresheet alongside Sunderland’s Katy Watson and Newcastle’s Charlotte Potts. The match saw former Sunderland captain Emma Kelly receive two yellow cards during the game resulting in her early departure in the 75th minute. 

In August of 2021, the wildcats rounded off their pre-season campaign by hosting Newcastle United at Maiden Castle. Durham arrived back to their first home crowd in 18 months with an electric 8-0 win. The end of the tie saw six of the Wildcats on the scoresheet: Briggs, Hill, Robson, Wilson, Bradley and Hepple appearing twice due to her brace alongside an own goal from the opposition.  

Going into next season, the three teams will be battling out, setting an exciting stage for women’s football in the Northeast and shining a spotlight on the talent, passion and rivalry the region has to offer.