Growing up in Lancashire, all Beth Stanfield wanted to do was to play football and now she’s living that dream.Now in her second season at Town, the full back started off at her hometown club, Preston North end before joining Fylde FC.
“My Dad first got me into football, playing in the garden,” says Stanfield.
“I’ve played football for as long as I can remember and started playing properly for the local boys’ team when I was about 5 or 6.”
That was quite the norm when Stanfield grew up. With very few girls’ teams at schools or at Sunday League level and it wasn’t all plain sailing for Town’s no.2.
“They used to take the mick out of me, especially when I played for the boys’ teams because I was the only girl. People would definitely make fun and underestimate me.”
“But I always had the support of my teammates and parents so I wouldn’t let it affect me. They were so important”
That resilience would prove key in her attempts to emulate childhood hero Kelly Smith’s exploits as she joined Preston in the under 14’s before making her way up through the age groups to make her senior debut aged just seventeen.
I played for Preston for a few years which has been the highlight of my career and I was there until the takeover happened with Fylde.”
“After signing, I played for Fylde for about two years before I went to university at which point I moved to Guiseley and had a really good couple of years there, winning Players’ Player of the Year in my last season. Unfortunately, Guiseley then folded at the end of the 2018/19 season so I then came to Huddersfield at the start of 2019/20.”
To say Stanfield hit the ground running would be an understatement. Despite fierce competition for places, she shone above the rest in her debut season. Although the campaign was cut short, the right-back featured heavily, including the historic FA Cup tie with Ipswich Town, and hit one of the goals of the season away at Middlesbrough.
Her rocket into the top corner would take some beating and, funnily enough, she did just that. Nottingham Forest visited the Stafflex Arena as league leaders earlier this season and everyone knew it would take something special to condemn them to their first loss of 2020/21, so Stanfield stepped up with a sweetly struck first-time volley as Town claimed a vital 2-1 win. She says it is hard to pick between the two.
“It’s a close call but I think my goal against Forest was my favourite because it was a much closer game and it gave us the lead. The technique was really good as well. I could probably try that shot another 100 times and only hit it like I did once!”
When asked what her favourite memory is from her time at Town so far, Stanfield didn’t hesitate in talking about the FA Cup.
“Playing at the mens’ stadium was a great experience for everyone and hopefully we can do that again in the near future. Obviously the result didn’t go our way, but it was a brilliant occasion.”
“And then personally I’d probably say my goal against Forest this season, it was one of my better ones!”
The pandemic has disrupted daily life as we knew it all over the country and having both her seasons at Town either cut short or put on hold for months on end, it’s hardly been a normal welcome to life in West Yorkshire, but there are still many positives to take. When asked to sum up her Town journey so far, it’s clear to see that Stanfield is striving for more.
“I think it’s gone okay. The first season was a bit underwhelming and results and performances were quite inconsistent before everything stopped.”
“This season we’ve started a lot better but my time here has been really disrupted with the pandemic!”
“The board opting not to go for promotion this year is disappointing to be honest, but I understand the decision. If we get promoted next year, we need to ensure that we can sustain ourselves financially not just for one season, but for many more to come and I believe we can do that!”
Interview by Jack Walker