The Pub Cup hasn’t even kicked-off yet but one ladies team who will be taking part have already been thrust into the spotlight.
Beccles Town Ladies FC, who are representing the pub that has backed them from the beginning, The Ingate Free House, recently appeared as guests on BT Sport’s weekend football show Saturday Morning Savage.
Pub owner Michelle Payne, team manager Alan Runnacles and members of the squad travelled from Suffolk to Stratford to take part in the show at the BT Sport studios.
Michelle, who sponsors the team, said it was a great bonding exercise.
You could see on the bus on the way down how they were getting excited and how it was bringing them together.”
“They hadn’t been to a TV studio before so it was a new experience and they were a little bit nervous. Everyone was incredibly nice. Robbie Savage came over and shook everybody’s hand and they all signed a flag we had taken, after the show.”
Michelle was interviewed on air about the pub’s involvement in the women’s game.
She said: “I just told them how important it is for the community and how things are starting to improve with the women’s game but there is still a long way to go.”
She was joined by Alan Runnacles, Beccles Town Ladies FC manager, who play in the Norfolk Women & Girls’ Football League.
After gaining promotion last year they have found the higher division more challenging but are looking forward to taking part in the first ever BT Sport Women’s Pub Cup.
Alan said: “Being on the TV was brilliant and that has just got the squad all the more geared up for the tournament.”
He added that the link with the pub has been essential to the team’s success.
“Beccles is not a very big place and I have known Michelle for years. When I went to the pub and told her I was starting up the team and needed sponsorship she just said straight away ‘how much?’.
“She has been incredibly supportive from the start and does so much, such as sorting out the travel to the studio, paying for the fuel and even getting us the Beccles Town FC flags.”
Michelle’s support of Beccles Town Ladies has previously been recognised with a BT Sport Manager of the Month trophy and visit from England’s most capped footballer Fara Williams.
This year’s BT Sport Pub Cup is the biggest ever with 192 teams taking part at 12 top class stadiums across the country.
For the first time we are also running a women’s competition which will have heats at Selhurst Park, Molineux, Ewood Park and Bramall Lane.
Beccles Town will be representing The Ingate Free House at Bramall Lane on May 20.
Alan said: “As I said on the show, even the professional women do not always get to play on their club’s first team pitch so this is just an incredible opportunity for the squad.”
The teams, both men and women, who qualify from the heats progress to play in semi-finals at Manchester City’s Academy. The winners of that will compete in the Pub Cup Finals Day at Newcastle’s St James Park on June 4.
The Pub Cup champions will receive the trophy, glory and free BT Sport plus £5,000 of equipment for the pub they are representing.
We’ll provide updates throughout the tournament on these pages and on our Twitter feed, so if you don’t follow us already take a look at @BTSportBars.