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C of E - Latest News


More great news for Middlesbrough Girls' Centre of Excellence came on Friday 30th April as U16 stars Jess Round and Ellie Christon were selected for the England U17 training camp commencing on May 24th at Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre. Round had been involved in the U15 camp 2 weeks ago for the first time, while Christon had not featured for England due to injury for several months.

Craig Nicholson said, "It is unbelievable news! Jess has only recently been involved in the England set-up, so to make the progression so quick shows just how impressed they were with her. Ellie has had a tough time with injury but has been very competent since her return. They have really pushed on over the last 2 or 3 years these two and they are getting their just rewards for it".


Saturday 2nd May 2009 saw 125 players, parents and staff from Middlesbrough Girls' Centre of Excellence take to the road for their annual end of season tour. The girls took part in a tournament on the Saturday arranged by Blackburn C of E which involved five C of E's including themselves, Blackburn, Crewe, Everton and Wolves. The weather was fantastic and everyone got a chance to see the quality in a different region.

"All 5 centres were of very good quality, as you would expect. I think our younger teams performed magnificently and really showed what they could do. The older girls found it very difficult against some very well organised teams. Everton in particular were very strong" said director Craig Nicholson.

On Sunday 3rd, having stayed the night in Birmingham, the girls played an exibition match against Liverpool C of E at Aston Villa's playing facility, Birmingham University. Another night in Birmingham then brought round a trip to Pride Park on Monday 3rd to watch the Woman's FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Sunderland.

"We did the same last year and the girls really enjoyed watching the game between Arsenal and Leeds. This year I thought the game was a little more competitive and a better spectacle. It was a strange game for some of the girls because they were watching a group of players at Sunderland that last year they were playing against and in some cases playing with! It just shows the reality and progression of where these girls actually are'.

'All in all it was a brilliant 3 days and everyone thoroughly enjoyed it!"
Craig stated further.

The U16's have one more game to play on May 30th against Coventry and West Riding C of E's then the season will come to an end with an annual presentation evening.
Trials for next season will be held in June. If you are interested please contact Craig at


Sunday 19th April was a proud day for Middlesbrough Girls’ Centre of Excellence as U10 player Mia Brannigan and U12 player Shauna Kelly competed in the Redcar & Cleveland PCT Family Fun Run event. The girls ran on behalf of the centre and managed to raise over £300 through sponsorship. Mia’s Dad, Gary, also participated in what was a very exhilarating affair.
“For girls so young they show fantastic commitment to not just the C of E, but to football and sport in general. To want to participate in such an event at their age is impressive enough, but to raise money for the centre as well is even more special. A big thank you must go to the girls and their parents for doing this. It’s excellent to see our young talent doing so much for football and for themselves and their well-being,” said director Craig Nicholson.

Final Game - North Yorkshire C of E

On Saturday 26th April the girls played their final game of the 2008/9 fixture programme against North Yorkshire C of E. For the second Saturday running the sun was glorious which made the conditions a bit tougher for the girls. The U10's and U16's played at the home venue in Eston, while the U12's and U14's did the travelling South.
Andy Cook of the U14's said, "It was a very tight game from start to finish and it got a bit scrappy at times. North Yorkshire have improved alot since the last time we met at the start of the season. Our girls did very well though and deserve a lot of credit for their hard work".
The girls now look forward to their end of season tour which commences early next Saturday morning.

Matchday 19 - Sunderland

Sunderland were the opponents for the girls' penultimate game of the season. The U12 and U16 squads travelled to Houghton-le-Spring with the U10's and U14's playing at home. Sunderland always prove to be a tough test for each of the age groups and today was to be no different.
Emily Toase, who took charge of the U12's for this game, said, 'These lot have been playing superbly of late, they showed a very pleasing performance against Newcastle last time out but today rivalled that outing! They were excellent from start to finish and there were some fine individual performances. Nic and Amy have done very well, their understanding of 9v9 was very impressive, especially as they haven't played it for very long'.
The girls play their last game of the fixture programme next Saturday against North Yorkshire C of E. The week after that the centre is travelling to Blackburn, Birmingham and Derby as part of their end of season 3 day tour.

Matchday 18 - Newcastle United

Middlesbrough Girls' Centre of Excellence played against Newcastle in their 18th competitive fixture of the season. The U10 and U14 squads made the trip to Newcastle's venue at Northumbria University while the U12 and U16 squads played at Eston.

It was a lovely day for football and Director Craig Nicholson witnessed a superb performance from the home U16 team. "Newcastle only had 10 players available which meant we had to play 9v9, which isn't ideal at this age group but any playing time is better than no time. The girls found themselves with lots of time on the ball and with great space available and because of that they used the ball brilliantly at times and put some neat passages of play together'.

'We haven't been scoring too many goals this season and one of the reasons is that we don't have enough efforts at goal, particularly from distance. But the girls have come up trumps today with 4 or 5 goal fantastic goals. We are very pleased with the display", said Craig.

The girls now only have 2 games left of their original fixture programme, against Sunderland and North Yorkshire, but some attention has been turned to the recently confirmed season end tour where the girls will play some extra games. More details to follow.

Matchday 17 - Leeds Utd

Saturday 28th March saw the girls pit their wits against a very strong Leeds Utd set up. it was the first time all four teams had played against each other because of the horrendous weather over Christmas, so the girls were keen to show off their talents. U10 coach Steph Libby managed a very action-packed game.

"The girls started really well and played some very nice football. I think Leeds saved their best players for the middle third and we went to sleep a little bit and didn't perform as well as we could have. We got control back in the final third of the game and ended up with a positive ending to the performance", she said.  

Matchday 16 - Lincoln

Matchday 16 - Lincoln
On Saturday 21st March all four age groups fom the centre made the gruelling trip down the country to face Lincoln Girls' Centre of Excellence. The journey was a 7 hour all round trek and Andy Cook of the U14's feels the trip may have jaded the girls slightly for their games."The girls showed glimpses of well worked football but overall it wasn't one of our best days. I don't know whether the journey had exhausted some of the girls but we were very slow at getting started and didn't really pick up any momentum. Fair play to Lincoln though, they were very tough opposition on the day".

Jess gets the nod!

Jess gets the nod!
The Centre of Excellence received more good news on Thursday 19th March as U16 midfielder Jess Round was the latest player to be called up to the England U15 training squad. The training camp commences in April and Director Craig Nicholson believes it is nothing more than Jess deserves.

"Jess has been with us for a very long time and improves season by season. She has been one of the most consistent players throughout ther time here and thoroughly deserves her chance. Fingers crossed she can show the new management exactly how good she is and sustain her place there'.

'If you look at the 4 players we have now had involved with England recently, they have all been at the C of E for numerous years. It shows just what a good job the staff are doing and that we really do have the best players from the region here".

Match Day 15 - West Riding

Match Day 15 - West Riding
The fixture against West Riding proved to be a good test for all age groups on Saturday 7th March. With the U12 and U16 squads doing the travelling, the U10's and U14's did the representation on home soil. Director Craig Nicholson was there to watch the two home games.

"The younger girls put in a fantastic performance. They were a bit down after last week's tough clash at Sunderland but very much made ammense today. We have some marvellous talent coming through, the coaches are working wonders!

'The U14's had a very difficult game especially as they got off to a horrid start but they showed great determination and ended the game very much on top with some fine individual performances. The ability to put things right during a game and show improvement is essentially what the learning process we offer is all about".

Match Day 14 - Sunderland

Saturday 28th February seen the girls pitting their wits against a tough Sunderland set-up. The U10's and U14's did the travelling this week to Houghton-le-Spring with the other two age groups playing at the regular Eston venue, the oldest of which was set up for a very physical rematch after a brutal encounter earlier on in the season.

Mark Dick of the U16's said, "The girls worked very, very hard today but couldn't seem to catch the breaks. They never got into their stride really and didn't show the fluency they have displayed recently. They very much matched Sunderland physically though and that is pleasing to see".

Jo Bullen, head coach of the U10's said, "It was the first negative result we have had all season. A few of the girls took it as a bit of a shock but it's all part of the learning curve. They will have learnt more after that game than most this season".

The girls play next on Saturday 7th March against West Riding C of E.

Hope Powell comes to......Eston?!

Hope Powell comes to......Eston?!
Tuesday 24th February was a fantastic day for girls' football in the North East as Hope Powell, the England Woman's team head coach, and her coaching team travelled to Eston to a regional Girls' Centre of Excellence in service event. The day seen directors and coaches from all of the centres in the North come to Eston academy where Hope and the team presented on the importance of player development, talent ID and player conditioning.

For the Middlesbrough U14 & U16 girls the occasion was even sweeter as they were required to participate in some practical sessions delivered by the England coaching staff and Hope herself.

Director Craig Nicholson said, "This is the first time Hope and her team have ever done anything like this in the North East. The girls were ecstatic when they knew Hope was coming to coach them, and I think some of the coaching staff were too! The fact that they are coming to venues like this shows how much girls' football has developed of late, particularly here in the North East. They delivered some very important messages on the day for the coaches that attended".

Stay posted for all the photo's that were taking on the special night!

Matchday 13 - Newcastle United & Hull

Matchday 13 - Newcastle United & Hull

With the tragic weather of late comprimising the Eston venue, Middlesbrough Girls' Centre of Excellence used their school half term break to 'squeeze' some much needed fixtures into their development programme. Wednesday 18th February seen them test their skills against both Newcastle United and East Riding (Hull) girls' Centres of Excellence in a triangular fixture.

Director Craig Nicholson said, " It's not ideal having the girls come in between training but with all the games they have missed recently we had to get the momentum back somehow. A lot of thanks go to Newcastle and Hull for rearranging their respective fixture at the last minute to join us here at Eston. It turned out to be a good day, a very much needed one for the girls!".

Lisa Bell of Newcastle United said, "We thank Middlesbrough for hosting us during what was a very worthwhile exercise. The girls really enjoyed it!".



Beth Mead from the U14's had something to shout about lately as she was presented with a prestigious award from the Mayor of Middlesbrough, Ray Mallon. Beth was nominated for the 'Certificate for Achievement in Sport' award for her inclusion in the International set-up, along with U16 players Ellie Christon and Sarah Thompson.

"Being nominated for the award in the first place is a great accolade for the girls but to go one step further and recieve the certificate is a massive statement!'
'Recieving it for girls football just shows the attention everyone is now paying to their efforts in the sport!" said director Craig Nicholson.

Father of Beth, Richard said, "The idea for the awards came from Brenda Thompson, Middlesbrough Council's Executive councillor for public health and sport. The Council recognise the fact that there are so many sports people are doing well in our area, they thought it would be fitting for them to recognise their achievements'.

'Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon presented the awards in the council chambers. He congratulated Beth on been selected to attend three England U15 training camps last year".

Matchday 12 - Newcastle United

The weather played an integral role yet again for the centre on Saturday 7th February as the Eston home venue was again cancelled due to frost. That meant that only the U12 and U16 squads were playing, they were entertained at Newcastle's home venue at Northumbria University. It wasn't all doom and gloom though!

Mark Dick of the U16's said, "The girls played exceptionally well at times and showed great passing sequences to move up the pitch. We are very proud of them, it was an excellent game to watch and be a part of".

Regarding the U12's game, assistant coach Nicola Reed said, "They are improving week by week at 9v9 and played particularly well in the 2nd and 3rd periods of the game today. It's a big step for them and they are still learning about their positional roles and responsibilities on the larger pitch".

Next Saturday see's a rescheduled game take place with only the U10's and U16's playing against Leeds at home (weather permitting). The U10 and U14 fixture from today has been rearranged for Saturday 1st April.

Matchday 11 - Hull

Middlesbrough Girls' Centre of Excellence finally got a game played on Saturday 31st February when they travelled and played host to East Riding Centre of Excellence. The weather had been causing havoc of late and the girls hardly trained leading up to Saturday.

"It's a frustrating time for everyone involved at the moment. The weather is threatening to cancel everything we do. The girls' had no training sessions before this game, so to play as well as they did is a huge accolade. It says a lot about what they are doing away from the centre which is a big part of their learning pathway", said director Craig Nicholson.

The girls' next game is scheduled against Newcastle United C of E. Fingers crossed the weather won't disrupt this one!


Middlesbrough Girls' Centre of Excellence managed to raise a fantastic amount of over £1100 on Saturday 24th January as they proceeded with a fundraising night at St. Peters Social Club. The night involved a tombola, a raffle and a blind auction for some signed merchandise kindly donated by Middlesbrough Football Club and players and parents of the centre. After the fundraising acitivites everyone had to chance to let their hair down wih a bit of disco and karaoke!

Director Craig Nicholson organised the night with a big help from U10 parents Anna and Gary Brannigan. Crraig said, "The night was an incredible success! There was a brilliant turn out and we couldn't ask for more in terms of the amount we rasied adn the money everyone spent on the night. We thank St. Peters Social Club enormously and everyone who came and supported us on the night or donated items. This is another marvellous step to providing some exciting end of season plans!",

Matchday 10 - North Yorkshire

The weather had another impact on the schedule on Saturday 10th January as the home games against North Yorkshire were thrown in doubt because of frozen pitches. The referee's agreed to start both games, with the U12's having to move from their 9v9 to a softer 8v8 pitch, only for both games to be abandoned. The U14 pitch had dangerously hard goalmouths which were proving quite hazardous and after the 2x20 mins periods the U14's game was stopped for the same reasons.

However, the U10's and U16's managed to play all of their games away at York on the outdoor 3G facility. Craig Nicholson said, "It has always been the same, this time of year is a big obstacle for the season and lots of training and games get cancelled or thrown in doubt. It's always the biggest shame for the team that has had to travel, my apologies and sympathy go to York but they were very understanding. We havea  bit of a break now so fingers crossed we may have no more cancelled or abandoned".



The U16's got a taste of the working life on Tuesday 23rd December when they went to Asda, South Bank to do some bag packing. 10 girls turned up at the supermarket to help raise money for the centre along with U16 coach Mark Dick and director Craig Nicholson. Altogether their bag packing skills managed to raise nearly £500 during the 4 hour stint.

"I'm really proud of the girls that turned up, they showed great character and dedication given up half of their day to help us raise money. They were very professional throughout their time at the supermarket and struck up a great rapport with some of the staff there. They showed great maturity and Mark and I are very thankful to them, their parents and also to Asda for given us the opportunity", said Craig.

Matchday 9 - Sheffield Utd

Saturday 13th December turned into a very poor day for the C of E as all four games ended up being cancelled. The U10 game was postponed early on due to lack of Sheffield Utd staff, so the remaining 3 teams all travelled for their respective games. However, bad weather over night had left the facilities in a bit of a mess and the game was called off with the players and staff halfway to Sheffield.

"It has turned out a very wasteful morning. It's frustrating to be told so late on, especially when we were travelling such a distance but these things do happen. My apologies go out to all the players, parents and staff that wasted their mornings. It means the girls now have an even bigger wait until their next game", said director Craig Nicholson.

The girls now have no remaining fixtures in 2008. It has been a fantastic first half of the season and we now look forward to what 2009 will bring for the centre!

Matchday 7 - Lincoln

Saturday 29th November was a great day for Middlesbough Girls' Centre of Excellence as they hosted all four age groups at Eston Academy against Lincoln C of E. On what was a very frosty and foggy morning the venue was packed full of players, parents and coaches for what turned out be a very challenging set of games.

"It's always nice to see different teams come up here to play us, we actually did the trip down there last season. I think all 4 age groups found the games very tough today against a very good set-up from Lincoln. They will have got a lot out of those games which is what this scheme is all about. The weather was kind enough to us and both sets of players at all ages seemed to be playing with a smile on their face which made it a cracking morning!" said Director Craig Nicholson.

Next week see's the girls up against Leeds United.

WANTED - U16 Goalkeeper

Middlesbrough Girls' Centre of Excellence are looking for a goalkeeper for their U16 age group. Due to unforseen circumstances they have been left with no players with goalkeeping experience at this age and with three quarters of the season yet to play they find themselves in quite a predicament.

If you are or you know a goalkeeper with club experience who fits into the U16 age band then please contact Director Craig Nicholson at

Matchday 6 - West Riding

Matchday 6 - West Riding
West Riding C of E were the opposition for MGCOE on Saturday 22nd November. For this week the U10's & U14's travelled to West Yorkshire while the U12's and U16's stayed at home. It was the first of 5 fixtures in a row, making it a very busy schedule leading up to the festive break.

Adam Brooks of the U16's said "I was pleased with the performance of the girls for best part of the game, although I have to say West Riding were a very good team. They moved the ball very well and had a lot of posession. Having said that, I think we looked more threatening going forward and had more clear cut chances. Unfortunately we failed to capitalise on them and didn't hit the net as many times as we should have done. It was disappointing to concede the goals we did. All in all it was a very good, competitive game and both teams played some very attractive football at times".

Matchday 5 - Sunderland

Matchday 5 - Sunderland
Middlesbrough girls' centre of excellence took on Sunderland C of E on Saturday 8th November. The U12's and U16's made the trip up the A19 while the U10's and U14's played at home, Eston. The weather had threatened to disrupt the games during the week with training on Thursday night cancelled to protect the pitches for Saturday's games. However, when Saturday came the pitches were still in a bad condition and the U14's had to play on a unorthodox 9v9 pitch.

"It wasn't an ideal situation for the girls or the coaching staff but other than calling off the game at the last minute we really weren't left with any options. Saying that, the girls still showed their professionalism and gained a very positive result in terms of their performance as individuals and as a team. It was another good day for all our teams as we are all seeing the benefits of the hard work that is going into the coaching sessions during the week. The coaches here are doing a fantastic job", said Craig Nicholson.

It wasn't all rosey on Saturday with Chelsea Jowers of the U16's and trialist Chloe of the U10's picking up serious injuries. Everyone at MGCOE wishes them a very speedy recovery!

The girls now have a 2 week break before they entertain West Riding C of E.

Matchday 4 - Newcastle United

Saturday 1st November saw the girls compete against Newcastle United with the U12 & U16 squads at home and the U10 & U14 squads away. The girls hadn't  played a competitive fixture for 3 weeks and they don't come much tougher than local rivals Newcastle.

Steph Libbey of the U10's watched a very impressive game at Newcastle. "The girls played tremendously together. We had been working on 'pressing from the front' in training and it was excellent to see the girls applying the coaching to their games. They showed nice interplay and have gelled really well for a team full of new players. They were very impressive!", she said.

The girls play their next fixture against Sunderland next Saturday.

Pyjama Party!

Pyjama Party!
Monday 27th October was a fun night at Eston academy as the Centre of Excellence ran a 'Train-in-your-pyjamas' night. The night was part of the on-going fundraising acitivies the centre is doing in a bid to aid an end of season excursion similar to last season. The girls turned out in all sorts of bedtime attire, aswell as the coaching staff!

"There were pyjama bottoms, tops, bath robes, slippers, nighties and even sleeping masks!" said Director Craig Nicholson. "It is always nice to do something fun for the girls as they train so hard and are so dedicated to improving themselves, but when it also involves raising money for our centre for the end of season plans it's like killing two birds with one stone! Everyone was in fantastic spirit and the night was a huge success", he added.

Talent ID Camp

Talent ID Camp

On Saturday 4th October 10 nominated girls from Middlesbrough Girls Centre of Excellence took part in the FA's regional talent identification camp at Hull University. It was the second time the FA had run the camp, with 2 Middlesbrough players progressing to the England U15 squad this time last year. The 10 hopefuls were required to partake in defensive and attacking based coaching sessions before lunch and a set of competitive matches afterwards infront of England's scouting team which included U15 Head Coach Kay Cossington. The 2 successful players from last year were also asked to participate in the camp as England representatives.

"A couple of years ago in Centre of Excellence football, this sort of opportunity seemed a lifetime away. It just shows how much woman's and girls football has and is growing. The girls had a fantastic day in pretty gloomy conditions and each one of them worked their socks off. Regardless of what comes from the camp, each girl should be very proud for being selected in the first place and giving the day their 'all'!", said Craig Nicholson, Centre Director.

ID Camp Participants:

Anna Young
Becky Langley
Lottie Tattam
Chantelle Magson
Emma Morris
Jess Round
Sarah Thompson
Chelsea Jowers
Ashleigh Coyle
Jenny Dixon
Ellie Christon (U15 Squad)
Beth Mead (U15 Squad)

International call-up

International call-up
Middlesbrough Girls' Centre of Excellence were delighted on Monday when they received the news that U16 player Sarah Thompson was asked to join up with the England U15 training camp at Lilleshall the following morning.

Sarah took part in the regional talent ID camp held 2 weeks ago at Hull University and had impressed so much that England U15 head coach Kay Cossington aquired her for the forthcoming camp.

"It's another fantastic day for MGCOE and for girls' football in general. The C of E's around the country still unfortunately have their critics but this again just proves why we are here and how much we are developing the female players at our centres. Sarah has been here for nearly 6 seasons and thoroughly deserves this opportunity", said Director Craig Nicholson.

Sarah now joins Beth Mead and Ellie Christon on Middlesbrough's current England U15 roll of honour.

Matchday 3 - Hull

After a 2 week break Middlesbrough Girls' Centre of Excellence endured their third competitive fixture of the season against Hull C of E on Saturday 11th October. A marvellous day of sunshine provided the girls with the ideal opportunity to get back into the swing of things and put their training and coaching to the test.

Centre Director Craig Nicholson was required to referee for the U10s' game and said, "The girls actually went a goal down but showed fantastic spirit to get back into the game for such a young crop of players. They played some really exceiting football at times and you could see just how much they have improved already over the first 2 months of the season. A lot of credit must go to Jo and Steph who are doing a marvellous job. There are some real stars of the future in that team!".

The girls play their next games against Newcastle United on Saturday 1st November.

Matchday 2 - North Yorkshire

Matchday 2 - North Yorkshire

Saturday 13th September saw Middlesbrough Girls Centre of Excellence play their second fixture of the season against North Yorkshire C of E. The girls started very positively last week against a tough Sheffield United and were hoping to produce another set of fine displays against their Yorskhire counterparts.

The U16's and U10's played at Eston this week with the U14's and U12's away, on a day where the weather was a far cry from the terrential rain of last Saturday.

Andy Cook, head coach of the U14's said "The girls put in another great performance! There were some girls playing out of position, particularly in defensive areas, but they worked very hard and showed an increasingly good understanding of their roles. You could see they were thinking about and using the things we had worked on in training over the week.

The girls were also excellent in attack and we scored some fine goals".

The U10's, U12's and U16's also produced some pleasing displays and the girls now have 2 weekends without a game before some selected U14's and U16's prepare for the England Talent ID Camp on Saturday 4th October at Hull University. 


Middlesbrough Girls Centre of Excellence got their season underway on Saturday 6th September with a tough opener against Sheffield United. With the U10's & U16's playing down at Sheffield and the U12's & U14's at home, United proved to be a very challenging first game and a real eye opener for the new recruits of the fantastic standard they are now playing at. The girls from all 4 age groups made a very impressive start and showed some real quality in what was a very wet and windy morning at both venues.

U16 Head Coach Mark Dick said, "the girls did very well in the horrible conditions. Some of them have really looked after themselves over the summer break and they showed some great quality at times against a very good opposition."

After the games Centre Director Craig Nicholson reflected on what was a very good start to the season. "I could see the girls who have just joined us were quite nervous and didn't really know what to expect. I had the chance to watch most of the U12 and U14 games and once the girls got into their strides the quality of both age groups was very good. The girls who have just joined us have added some excellent attributes to the teams and they should all be very proud. I heard from the other coaches that the U10's and U16's were very impressive also."

Middlesbrough Girls Centre of Excellence will face their next test against North Yorkshire C of E next Saturday.