Arkengarthdale teenager helps women’s team through to semi-final

Photo: Darlington FC Women and Girls Football.

An Arkengarthdale teenager has helped Darlington FC Women’s team reach the semi-final of the Durham County FA Women’s Cup.

18-year-old goalkeeper Ellen Atkinson, who attends Richmond Sixth Form, scored in a penalty shootout at the weekend before putting her gloves back on to make a match-winning save in her team’s game against Consett.

Manager Shaun MacKenzie said: “Ellen volunteered to take a penalty — we know she can put them away as she does that in training.

“She was going to be in the first five, but we decided to put her sixth just in case — and that’s how it worked out.”

Ellen started playing football for a mixed team for the Two Dales Football Club in Reeth when she started school. She left the club to join Bedale JFC before playing for Darlington Spaire FC’s Under 18 team.

Ellen then moved to play for Darlington in September 2021 as their reserve goalkeeper, becoming their first gamekeeper in September 2022.

The team plays in the Durham Ladies League and recently competed in the Vitality FA cup, getting through the first three rounds.

After excelling in GCSE PE, Ellen opted to specialise in sport and is studying triple CTEC Sport.

Ellen said: “I have always enjoyed the thrill of being a goalkeeper and being under pressure – in fact, I perform better under pressure.

“I have really enjoyed playing for all the teams over the years, and it’s been privilege to be selected as Darlington Quakers’ A-team’s first goalkeeper.

“I sort of fell in to being a goalkeeper, it was my first position when I was four playing at Reeth and I’ve stayed there ever since.

“I am intending to go to university to study paramedic science so I will be sad to leave the Quakers but I hope to join another squad at university.”

Miss Abbey, lead teacher for PE at Richmond School, said: “Ellen is an outstanding goalkeeper.

“She has committed many years of training to develop her skills and work her way to first choice goalkeeper for Darlington.

“Saving a penalty and then turning around and scoring the winning penalty against another goalkeeper not only reflects her versatility as a player but also her mental strength to succeed under such pressure.”

The draw has been made for the semi-finals of the Durham County FA Women’s  County Cup and Darlington FC Women’s team will play Chester Le Street Town Ladies FC away on Sunday, 19th February.