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Langley reflects on FA Cup memories and shovelling snow before win at Salford as Newcastle Women prepare for Barnsley

LAST November Becky Langley cleared snow off a pitch with her players to ensure their second round FA Cup away clash with Salford City went ahead. 

On Sunday her Newcastle United Women’s side will battle Barnsley for a third round spot in the far different setting of St James’ Park.

Becky Langley hopes to steer her side to the Women’s FA Cup third round with the draw taking place on December 11
Katie Barker was among the scorers when Newcastle United Women beat Alnwick Town at St James’ Park in May

A crowd of more than 25,000 – which would be a record number for a women’s game at the stadium – is expected to turn out to watch the club’s bid to keep their FA Cup dreams alive. 

Last year a 4-0 drubbing of Salford saw the Magpies book a third round tie with Chorley before progressing to the fourth round where they lost 1-0 to Ipswich Town

Langley, 27, whose team play in the women’s game’s fourth tier, told NUFC TV: “The FA Cup has always been a competition we’ve had great memories from. 

“Last season we played at Salford City men’s ground and we were shovelling the snow off the pitch to make sure that the fixture actually went ahead.

“And a couple of weeks ago we played Hull away with brilliant memories of watching 17-year-old Becky Ferguson score the winning goal in extra time, that got us through to this round.

“We want to make sure that we get through this round.”

The Magpies’ 2:00 pm fixture could see them surpass the previous fan attendance record they set for a Newcastle women’s game in May this year. 

Back then a crowd of 22,134 turned up to see Langley’s side beat Alnwick Town 4-0 in an FA Women’s National League encounter. 

The match, which saw Langley become the first boss to oversee a Magpies women’s side at St James’ Park, was attended by club co-owner Amanda Staveley, 49, and Prem team chief Eddie Howe. 

And among the supporters watching was midfielder Freya Bailes who skippers Durham University’s side and joined the Magpies this July. 

Of her memories of that day, Bailes said: “When I got off the train at Newcastle I thought there were a lot of people wearing shirts.  

“The closer I got to the stadium, the more I realised everyone was going. 


“I felt a bit emotional just because of playing football for so long so I can’t imagine what the feeling will be like on Sunday when I pull the shirt on. 

“It will definitely be the highlight of my career so far. 

“I’ve been in the FA Cup before and played at some big stadiums but I am expecting more fans there on Sunday than ever before.

“As a childhood fan coming up to St. James’ once or twice a year, as the highlight of our family trip, it’s going to be surreal. 

“It’s been a moment that I’ve spoken about with Becky for so long, something that really made me want to sign (for the club).”

Langley’s team, who officially became part of Newcastle in August, are targeting promotion to the third tier

The last clash between Newcastle and Barnsley saw the former seal a 1-0 win in the Women’s National League. 

And Barnsley are currently three points behind their opponents in the fourth tier with a game in hand having played eight matches in the division so far this season. 

Langley, whose side are battling for promotion, are currently third in Division North of the National Women’s League. 

This August the team, who had previously been independent and backed by Newcastle United’s Foundation, officially became a part of the club. 

The move was completed as part of a formal restructuring which includes the establishment of a development squad. 

And in April Langley spoke of her hope of one day seeing the team compete in the WSL.

Last season Newcastle reached the fourth round of the Women’s FA Cup’s

She told The i : “My ultimate aim is to take Newcastle competing into the WSL.

“But we can’t buy our way into that league, it has to be done the right way. We need the right staff, the right players.”

In the past year Newcastle has been the focus of ‘sportswashing’ accusations from human rights bodies including Amnesty following a Saudi Arabian-backed takeover of the club last October. 

The £305million takeover which involved the Middle Eastern nation’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) led to the PIF owning an 80 per cent in the club. 

Last month Amnesty was reported to have renewed its accusations. 

And in August their spokesman Felix Jakens claimed Saudi Arabia’s investment in sport was an “attempt to switch the focus away” from human rights concerns in the country including the rights of women. 

Last October Staveley, who insists the club aims to be ‘welcoming and inclusive to all’, said Newcastle was ‘wholeheartedly committed to women’s and girls football’ and helping its women’s team to grow.  

Langley insists backing for her team has made their set-up become more professional. 

The Magpies boss said: “Last year we were operated in a kind of grassroots style.

“When the owners came on board they started to professionalise a couple of things but it was doing it with a serious approach so that it felt right. 

Langley’s team will face Merseyrail and Leeds United in their last two games before the end of this year

“Now we’ve gone into this season with a much more professional feel about everything.

“We’ve been given extra training sessions, we’ve got extra for facilities provision and we’ve got more professional staff on board to help everything with the girls’ game.

“And now we’re in a position where we can really kick off this season, push to win the league and push to get through to the next round of the FA Cup.”

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