Getting stronger with each season, Durham looked set for a sterling Spring Series after sitting in the top four for all of the 2016 season, but ultimately finished six points off of the top come the summer.
The majority of paperwork signed over December as Lee Sanders committed his players to new deals, the return of Zoe Ness (and signing of injured Grace McCatty) the two bits of business to cat the eye. Following a super Spring Series, Ness has signed a new deal and Sanders has brought in Abi Cottam, Ellis Dalgliesh, Kathryn Hill and Nicola Worthington, the only losses Rachel Laws and Tyler Dodds who returned to Sunderland.
During the regular 2016 season, only Yeovil, Bristol and Everton finished above the Wildcats and with all three having taking the step up to WSL 1, Durham are arguably favourites for the title, well accustomed to WSL 2 life. The northern most team in WSL 2, Durham have the ability to turn New Ferens Park into a fortress the only seven points they dropped at home last season spread out over the top three teams. Provided they can continue to navigate their long trips down to the plethora of southern sides in the league, there is no reason that Durham can’t replicate their home form when on the road, Ness and Beth Hepple a duo that could unlock any defence.
Another team that’s able to balance out youth with a smattering of experience, the Wildcats don’t lack for confidence and there is a sense around the club that WSL 1 is very much within their grasp. With a modest fanbase and no landmark men’s team to bring them under their wing as other WSL teams do, the Wildcats remain one of the humbler sides in WSL, only making their strong performances more impressive.
Expected to do well over the coming season, there is little to suggest that the Wearside team won’t be finishing high up the table, whether they’d be ready for the challenges of WSL 1 a whole different matter.