One of North Wales’ finest young female footballers of recent years revelled in playing at a world-famous English Premier League stadium on Sunday.
Former Rhyl FC star Paige Williams came on as a second-half substitute for Leeds United in their FA Women’s National League Division One North clash with Alnwick Town at the iconic Elland Road.
Leeds won the game 6-0 and sit third in the Tier 4 table behind Newcastle United and Liverpool Feds, Paige’s previous club.
The 22-year-old Paige came on for Bridie Hannon in the 61st minute at Elland Road when United were 5-0 up against the bottom side, Laura Bartup having scored four of the goals.
With the game won, manager Dan O’Hearne introduced all five substitutes within a short period. The match was watched by a lively crowd of 1,370.
Leeds United Women usually play home games at Thorp Arch, Wetherby, but Sunday brought a rare chance to perform at the Yorkshire Whites’ celebrated “HQ”.
Former Prestatyn High School pupil Paige joined Leeds from Liverpool Feds in June 2021. The right-winger has made 25 first-team appearances for The Phoenix (the nickname for the women’s side).
Manager O’Hearne paid tribute to Paige’s commitment to the club in travelling up to Yorkshire from North Wales every week and believes with more consistency she can develop into an even better player.
“She’s been in and out of the starting line up most of the season – we just need more consistency from her,” said O’Hearne. “The effort and work-rate is there, just the final ball sometimes lets her down and that’s why she has started some games from the bench.
“Her commitment is unbelievable traveling from North Wales and she is really keen to learn and improve her game. Hopefully she will stay at the club next season and command a regular starting place.”
Paige started playing football at the age of seven, having been inspired to do so by watching her mum Katie play at weekends.
Originally from Hereford, her first team was Hinton Girls under-10’s, who are based in the city.
The team struggled initially, but once her mum took over as coach it became one of the strongest in the Hereford FA League and Paige began to progress rapidly as a right-winger.
She went on to play for Bartestree Girls and then at county standard for Hereford United from the ages of 10 to 12 before being snapped up by Birmingham City Ladies.
However, life changed when she moved to North Wales as a 13-year-old.
Paige was one of the youngest players in the Prestatyn Girls squad which won the 2014-15 Under-16 Welsh Cup as part of a treble.
At the same time, her game was flourishing at Rhyl FC, and by the 2016-17 season she was representing the Lilywhites regularly in the Welsh Premier Women’s League at the age of 16.
She was the winner of the first Grassroots North Wales Young Player of the Year in 2016-17.
In unison with her studies, Paige joined Liverpool Feds of the FA Women’s National League Division One North in 2018-19. She was named Reserve Team Manager’s Player of the Season at the end of her debut campaign.
Covid then took its cruel intervention and many young football careers were put on hold – including Paige’s.
However, summer 2021 brought the joy of a move to Leeds United. where Paige, who qualifies to play for Wales, aims to write more happy chapters in her footballing story.