YORK City Ladies are a team looking up.

A little under a year ago, the Minsterbelles appointed coach Jill Stacey to the role of technical director with the aim of providing a broader overview of the team and its development.

This has allowed the side to take extra strategic approaches, such as in retaining players who have graduated through the regional talent club, one of 13 tier-one RTCs in the country.

Stacey remains involved in coaching York too, working with first-team manager Chris Hamilton and coach Stuart Amos, among others.

The experience of Hamilton has been a boon for the Minsterbelles, who have been able to bring in a number of players into a new-look squad with his help.

Thus both the immediate and longer-term fortunes of the side are being shored up.

And, with an eye to the future, York have applied to be moved up a tier from their current Step 5 competition, the North East Regional Women’s League premier division.

“I think York City Ladies are gaining a great name in the women’s game. There are a lot of players in the area talking about our environment and how positive our players are about it. I think it’s a good place to be coming and playing your football at a decent level,” Stacey summed up.

“We just want to keep driving the programme forward and keep getting stronger every year, and hopefully keep attracting a decent level of player to the club.”

Both the ladies team and the RTC are run by York City FC’s Community Foundation, the charitable arm linked to the club.

The RTC is responsible for the development of players from under-10 level to U16s and has seen graduates go on to sides like Manchester City, Sheffield United and Durham.

“What we wanted to do was increase the standard of everything at York City Ladies so it would enable players to, instead of going to teams outside the area, play for York City Ladies,” explained Stacey.

“When we were looking at how we could improve the structure at York City Ladies, bringing in other coaches who had experience in the women’s game is why we’ve brought Chris in. He’s currently on his ‘A’ licence alongside myself and Stu.

“He had worked with Rebecca Fevers, Abby Parkin and Holly Findlay in previous roles so some have come across and improved the standard of our squad.”

Fevers, Parkin and Findlay are three players who came in during the summer overhaul along with Shannon Durkin, Carly Smith, Emily Cattle, Lizzie Patterson,Milly Ash and Alisha Hardcastle.

They have made a big impact at York, who are now vying for a second consecutive North Riding County FA Ladies Cup title. York beat Minster city rivals York RI 11-3 in the last four to set up a final date with Middlesbrough Reserves this coming Sunday.

“All in all, it’s a pretty new squad and they’ve gelled together really well,” commented Stacey.

“It’s always tough when you’re bringing players together who haven’t had that much chance to train and play together but they’ve knitted together really well.

“There’s a really good feeling among the group, a real good camaraderie. They all get along really well on and off the pitch. I think that’s testament to the environment Chris and me have helped create on the pitch as well.”

The County Cup is not the only front City are competing on. After their league campaign was declared null and void, the NERWL set up a Subsidiary Cup competition to keep non-elite women’s players in action. It is, for all intents and purposes, a series of friendlies, but there is still hopefully a final to play towards, depending on levels of interest from other clubs. York are keen to take it seriously, Stacey said.

Before coming to York, Stacey worked for 16 years at the Newcastle United Community Foundation where she was responsible for football development activities in the city.

She also has experience as coaching manager of the Newcastle United Women’s side, and one of the women’s sides at Northumbria University.

Now at York, Stacey is showing clear ambition.

When the season was cut short, the FA invited teams to apply to go one division up. York are hoping to have heard back by the start of next month. The application process is weighted 75 per cent towards past results and 25 per cent towards facilities, structure and funding.

“We’ve got some really strong teams in our league who have some strong set-ups, the likes of Wallsend, Alnwick Town, Farsley,” she admitted. “I would expect them or teams like them to have applied so we’ll be in good company trying to make our way up the league.

“We wanted to show that ambition. We do want to move through the leagues, whether that’s through an application or on footballing merit, if it’s not through the application this season, we’ll try next season to finish top and get ourselves into the next tier.”