Bristol Rovers Football Club have announced that they intend to return to the world of women’s football with the launch of a new senior female team at some (unspecified) point in the future.
Speaking at the press launch of the club’s project to build a new academy and first team training facilities, Pirates’ chairman Steve Hamer told their official website “In time, we hope to have a ladies side attached to the club and, once established then it is our intention that they also use this site for games and for training.”
Their previous foray into the women’s game proved highly successful. Starting out in the South West Women’s Combination in 1998 they finished second in the table in their first two seasons, before finally taking the league title and promotion to the WPL in 2001. They also reached the semi-final of the FA Women’s Cup during the 2000/01 season, attracting over 3000 spectators to the Memorial Stadium when they faced Arsenal in the last four.
They finished as runners-up in their first season in the Southern Division behind the league’s only professional team, Fulham. A year later they topped the table to win promotion to the top flight just five years after their formation, never having finished outside the top two of their division in that time.
In 2005 financial difficulties at Rovers led them to reduce their funding to the women’s team, which was renamed Bristol Academy at this point, then twelve months later funding was withdrawn altogether, ending Bristol Rovers’ involvement in women’s football.
During their period playing as Bristol Rovers the club developed a rivalry with Bristol City’s Women’s side, enjoying near total dominance over their cross-city rivals, so it was a bitter pill to swallow for some fans when Academy were re-named Bristol City in 2016.