Women's FA Cup: Leanne Crichton praises progress of game

Leanne Crichton
Leanne Crichton has made 13 appearances for Notts County so far this season
SSE Women's FA Cup final - Chelsea v Notts County
Venue: Wembley Stadium. Kick-off: Saturday, 1 August - 15:00 BST
Coverage: BBC One, BBC 5 live, BBC Radio Nottingham, BBC London 94.9 and live text commentary on BBC Sport website

Women's football is a generation ahead of where Notts County's Leanne Crichton envisioned it would be growing up.

In her first year as a professional, the 27-year-old midfielder has helped Notts to the first Women's FA Cup final to be played at Wembley.

The Scotland international said: "I don't even know if it [playing at Wembley] would have been a dream because I'm more of a realistic person.

"For generations to come I thought the game would develop and expand."

Women's FA Cup final: Key stats & great moments

Talking to BBC East Midlands today ahead of Saturday's FA Cup final against Chelsea, Crichton continued: "Growing up I never thought it would be something that I would be able to tap into as a footballer.

"I'd never have imagined it would take off quite the way it has in the last 10 or 15 years anyway."

Crichton, who helped Glasgow City complete their third consecutive domestic treble in 2014, says playing as a full-time professional at Meadow Lane is a "luxury".

She said: "It has been amazing. I was worried coming away from home. It is my first year as a professional, so it was always going to be a challenge."

A brief history of women's football
1895: North beat South 7-1 in the first women's football match 1920: 53,000 watch Dick Kerr Ladies beat St Helen's Ladies at Goodison Park
1921: The FA bans women from playing on Football League grounds 1969: The Women's Football Association is formed with 44 member clubs
1971: The FA lifts the ban on women playing on the grounds of affiliated clubs. The first women's FA Cup final takes place 1972: England beat Scotland 3-2 in the first official women's international in Britain
1991: The WFA launches a national league with 24 clubs 1993: Women's football is brought under the governance of the FA
2002: Football becomes the top participation sport for girls and women in England2011: The FA Women's Super League is launched, a second tier follows in 2014
2015: England finish third at Women's World Cup2015: First Women's FA Cup final hosts at Wembley Stadium

Saturday's game will be the biggest Women's FA Cup final in history, with more than 26,000 tickets already sold.

Crichton believes the women's game in England has been transformed following the national team's bronze medal at the World Cup and the FA Cup final will be another seminal moment.

"The event and day itself will be one to remember," she added.

"There will be a lot to take away from it, win or lose. It will change the game for the better for the future."