Chris Church | Swansea City Ladies squad deserve the accolades
“Ecstatic” Swansea City Ladies coach Chris Church says the players deserve all the credit after clinching the Genero Adran Premier League title for the third consecutive season.
After being the dominant force in Welsh domestic football in recent campaigns, the Swans faced some stern tests as their rivals sought to usurp them at the top of the table.
There has been a new format to contend with, while the Swans also suffered a first league defeat in over three years.
But despite the new challenges and setbacks, Church’s team have continued to show the style, determination and ruthlessness that are the hallmarks of champion sides.
In the end, Swansea dropped just seven points in 19 games.
They have been confirmed as title winners with a game to spare, and Church was keen to attribute the achievement to the players' hard work and resolve to keep bettering their previous achievements.
“We’re ecstatic,” Church said.
“It’s been a long season but it’s the reward for the players, I think they deserve this accolade of winning three in a row.
“I think that’s a great feat for anyone to try and do, and I think the players have excelled this year and I’m really pleased for them.
“The work ethic of the group and the desire to achieve things that no one else believes they can achieve sets them apart from the rest of the league.
“I think for us to win it three times in a row, you’ve just got to hold your hands up and congratulate the players on their achievements. The players have worked hard to be this successful.
“That badge means everything to them and it raises their level, it raises the staff’s level as well."
With Swans’ dominance in the Adran Premier League over the past few years, it would be all-too easy to overlook the scale of the achievement of stringing together a trio of titles.
Church praised his side for the way they have shouldered the weight of expectation and shown real desire to keep raising the bar for themselves.
“We have a target on our backs because of how successful we’ve been” he explained.
“That target keeps getting bigger and the scalp keeps getting bigger – you only have to look at Cardiff City when they beat us to end our three-and-a half year unbeaten run; that meant so much to them because it had taken so long for a team to beat us.
“That is the level that we’re trying to achieve year in year out, to make sure that we raise our standards.
“We talked about it last season that teams would up their level and coaches would get better and challenge us in different ways, and we’ve had to find different ways to win at times.
“Maybe one or two times it hasn’t been pretty, but there are times when the Swansea way has shone through.
“We’ve stuck to our principles of playing our way even when times are tough. I think it’s only going to get harder and the standard is only going to get better.
“With the change in the format of the league you almost had to go and win it twice. You had to get the points in the first half of the season to set yourself up in the second half of the season.
“It made it a lot more difficult to win it this time around and I think that made it sweeter, the fact that we’ve had to do it a harder way than in previous seasons.
"But what a way to do it with a game to spare, and we can’t wait to go and lift the trophy next weekend.”
The game in question is against second placed Cardiff Met who have run Church’s team close this season.
The fixture had looked like it might be a title-decider but the Archers were held by Cardiff City on the weekend, leaving the Swans four points clear heading into the final match.
Despite already being crowned champions, Church wants to finish the season on a high and show exactly why Swansea City Ladies are three times champions.
“The league isn’t over – no game is a dead rubber,” he added.
“We go there to win and we go there as champions looking to still set the standard.
“We don’t want them to believe they can beat us, we still want to maintain the standard.
"We want to win and celebrate with the players. We can’t wait to lift the trophy.”