After entering a new era of closer than ever integration with parent club Wolverhampton Wanderers FC, Wolves Women are now playing in what is their sixth decade of competitive football.
Formed in 1975 as Heathfield Rovers, initially as a West Midlands League second division club, they later became Wolverhampton & Wednesbury Tube and then Wolverhampton Ladies before taking the name Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1993.
That final name switch was a good omen as the1993/94 season saw them promoted to the Premier League – which was then the top flight of the English women’s game – where they spent two seasons before relegation.
In 1999 the club was incorporated under the Companies Act with several influential business people joining the board, among them BBC presenter Jenny Wilkes (chair) and former England Women’s cricket team captain Baroness Rachael Heyhoe Flint.
The club evolved a strong youth development programme, several players going on to become senior internationals – Rachel Unitt, Jody Handley and Emily Westwood for England, Kerrie Manley for Wales and Amy McCann for Northern Ireland
Aston Villa’s European Cup-winning captain Dennis Mortimer was appointed manager in 2000 and led the team for three years, narrowly missing out on promotion.
In a landmark move in the 2008/09 season the women’s section was taken on board by Wolverhampton Wanderers FC as part of Wolves Community Trust.
Recent seasons have seen the club promoted and relegated twice, managers James Astle and Tim Dudding both leading successful promotion campaigns.
At junior level the club was awarded a new FA Girls’ Regional Talent Club license in 2016, supporting the identification and development of players with elite potential as part of the England Talent Pathway. Encouragingly, the RTC has seen some talented young players moving through the ranks and making their mark at senior level.
Current first team manager Dan McNamara took over at the beginning of 2018 after a poor start to the season and led the battle to avoid the drop, but after a hard-fought campaign relegation was confirmed – agonisingly on goal difference.
There was further disappointment in the following two seasons, firstly as McNamara’s team finished runners-up and so missed out on promotion and then, agonisingly in 2019/20, having promotion snatched away as they had all but clinched top place when the season was null and voided due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 2020/21 season looked like déjà vu as once again. Wolves were riding high only to have another pandemic-enforced end to the campaign, but a deserved promotion was eventually achieved via the FA’s ‘upward movement’ initiative, so ending the team’s three-year break from the National League Northern Premier Division.
Onwards and upwards is now the aim as McNamara and his side make the most of benefits derived from the solid support of their parent club.
The women’s set-up has become part of Wolves Academy for the first time, while Jenna Burke-Martin has become the first ever full-time member of staff as Head of Women’s and Girls’ Football.
These progressive moves have dove-tailed with the sharing of the men’s Premier League team’s top-class Compton Park training ground facilities – including sports science, analysis and physiotherapy – as part of Wolves’ ‘one club’ ethos.