Reading FC Women goalkeeper Rachael Laws has been named in Sunderland Ladies team of the decade, earning the number one jersey at the FA Women’s National League Northern Premier Division side.
Laws, who also coaches Woodley United first team, joined the Royals Women in 2018 after Sunderland’s Ladies team were effectively cut adrift by the club and subsequently demoted two divisions following the FA’s Women’s Pyramid reshuffle that same summer that saw Manchester United’s newly formed women’s team enter the second tier.
Described in The Guardian as a ‘talent factory’, graduates of Sunderland’s Ladies team formed a large part of Phil Neville’s 2019 Women’s World Cup squad, with the likes of Lucy Bronze, Steph Houghton, Jordan Nobbs, Jill Scott and Beth Mead all now household names.
Speaking to Football in Berkshire, Laws said: “I was at Sunderland altogether in the reserves and first team for 14 years in total. I made my first team debut at 15 against Derby County.
“Sunderland were relegated due to not meeting criteria to be in FA WSL, they went down two divisions essentially. If I wanted to continue to play professionally I had to move.”
In a 2018 interview with BBC Sport, Laws said on her move: “Reading is somewhere I want to personally be and thrive hopefully while I am here.”
At Reading, Laws vies with Slough-born Grace Maloney for the number one shirt. As well as Sunderland and the Royals, she has played for Liverpool and earned an England call up during the 2015 World Cup Qualification.
The Woodley United connection
It is another former Sunderland player (and team of the decade inductee) though that got Laws involved at Woodley. Rachel Furness – who joined Reading in 2017 and has since joined Liverpool – was the one who introduced the goalkeeper to Kestrels boss Jamie Williams.
Laws said: “Rachel Furness knew Jamie and had already been asked to coach. She then asked me to become goalkeeper coach after Jamie had asked her to ask me!”
Woodley have benefitted from the Reading FC Women connection this season on the pitch as well, Craig McCreeth, Laws goalkeeping coach has been brought in as the first team goalkeeper and in a typically non league twist, can be found on Saturday afternoon’s being warmed up for Woodley games by the very player he coaches for Reading!