"I'm totally devastated" - Becky Langley reacts as Newcastle United Women season cut short again
Written by Joseph Nelson
Becky Langley has expressed her disappointment at the decision to end the FA Women's National League Division One North season early for the second consecutive season due to the effects of Covid-19 - but maintained her appreciation of the professionalism her squad has shown during three months of uncertainty.
In the Football Association's announcement on Monday, it was confirmed that the FAWNL was being brought to an immediate halt, just as it was last term. The season will be declared incomplete, with no further league fixtures taking place this season. There will also be no promotion and relegation.
It was, though, announced that the Vitality Women's FA Cup and Northumberland FA County Cup will resume, and Langley confirmed that her squad will be continuing training in April, as planned. The Lady Magpies' last competitive fixture was a 3-1 FA Cup win against Barnsley Women back in December, and they are due to play Brighouse Town Women in the second round proper on Sunday, 4th April.
Manager Langley told nufc.co.uk: "I'm totally devastated about the decision for another season null and void."
She described the last few months as an "emotional rollercoaster," admitting that she "held on to some hope that (they) might be continuing." Recent developments have certainly come as a blow, as Langley believed that this season could have been successful for the Lady Magpies, ruing the missed opportunity to build on "an outstanding ten-week pre-season, which so much hard work went into."
Whilst the fractured nature of this season has been a source of frustration for Langley and her staff, she was quick to praise her squad, stating: "The progression the players have made has been fantastic. The squad and support services have been significantly strengthened and I'm really proud. We will come back even stronger."
She labelled her squad "a class act" and championed the way they have coped with what has been thrown at them, "whether it be running programmes or HIIT sessions, or dealing with the uncertainty created around our potential league return."
This season has been difficult for the Lady Magpies and certain squad members have been particularly supportive to both their teammates and the manager. Langley specifically highlighted Courtney Lock and Rhiannon Gray (pictured) who, in her opinion, "have been absolutely outstanding leaders this season, whether that has been on the pitch leading from the front or encouraging teammates." She further expressed her admiration for the duo, highlighting that they "go above and beyond" and "are really positive role models for women and girls in the North East."
While it is clear that the abrupt ending to the season is disappointing, there have been some benefits, such as the innovative training methods and team building. This will only help Langley's squad, and strengthen them for the future.
And Newcastle United Women are very much alive in cup competitions, with Langley now hoping that her squad can build upon the impressive cup run they had put together ahead of the break and end the season with some silverware.
Photographs courtesy of Colin Lock/@Tyneside_NUWFC
"The progression the players have made has been fantastic. The squad and support services have been significantly strengthened and I'm really proud. We will come back even stronger."