1969: The club is formed as the Belle Vue Belles by a group of young, ambitious women who were selling draw tickets on the terraces at Doncaster Rovers FC.
1971: They began playing local, small-sided games but within a short period of time found themselves venturing outside of Doncaster and subsequently the Belle Vue part of the name had no meaning. This led to one of the biggest moments in the club’s history as they decided to change their name to the Doncaster Belles.
1983: The Belles were victorious in the Women’s FA Cup for the first time in the club’s history. Fittingly, a brace from club founder Sheila Stocks, as well as a goal from Jill Hanson helped Doncaster lift the cup in a 3-2 victory over St Helens at Sincil Bank in Lincoln.
1987: After three successive final heart-breaks, success would come in fine fashion as goals from Jackie Sherrard and Karen Walker’s set Nottingham’s City Ground alight with a 2-0 final win over St Helens, with a penalty save from Belles’ keeper Tracey Davidson sealing the win.
1988: Further success continued for the Belles as a 3-1 win over Leasowe Pacific saw the Belles retain the Women’s FA Cup. Strikes from Karen Walker, Jackie Sherrard and Gill Coultard cancelled out a Michelle Jackson penalty at Gresty Road, Crewe, in the entertaining final. Jackson joined the Belles the following season and played a key role in the heart of the Doncaster defence.
1990: The yellow and blues were back in the Women’s FA Cup final and experiencing more success as talismanic midfielder Gill Coultard scored the match-winning goal in a 1-0 victory over Friends of Fulham at the Baseball Ground in Derby.
1991/92: After championship success in the regional leagues, the Belles became founder members of the National League in the 1991/92 season. Their dominance saw them clinch the FA Women’s Premier League title with an undefeated record as strike duo Karen Walker and Gail Borman netted a combined total of more than 50 goals.
They made it a double-winning season following an emphatic 4-0 Women’s FA Cup win over Red Star Southampton with Walker setting a record for scoring a hat-trick in every round of the cup, including the final.
1993/94: The rise of Arsenal saw the Belles suffer both league and cup final heartache to the Gunners, however, Doncaster exacted revenge in the 93/94 campaign despite the odds being against them.
Needing three wins from their last four games, the Belles dug in to clinch the league title and finish four points ahead of rivals Arsenal. Further misery was inflicted upon the Gunners as the Belles regained the Women’s FA Cup following their 11th cup final in 12 years.
Over 1,600 fans watched on from the Glanford Park stands in Scunthorpe as Karen Walker’s header proved enough to beat Knowsley United 1-0 and give Doncaster the cup. That game also marked the retirement of founding member Sheila (Stocks) Edmunds following a glittering 25-year career with the Belles.
2000: More than 3,400 spectators at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane ground saw the Belles narrowly defeated 2-1 in the Women’s FA Cup final by Croydon, as Vicky Exley struck for Doncaster to equalise, with Karen Walker seeing a penalty saved.
2001: The Belles took part in the inaugural FA Women’s Community Shield, though it would be Vic Akers’ Arsenal who continued their dominance, with the treble-winning Gunners running out 5-2 winners, with Melanie Garside and Karen Walker scoring for the Belles.
2002/03: Doncaster finished as runners-up in the league for the third successive season, though they did manage to triumph over Arsenal 4-0 to inflict the side’s first league defeat in over two-and-a-half years.
The Belles also knocked Arsenal out of the Women’s FA Cup during the quarter final stages before suffering a 2-1 defeat to full-timers Fulham in front of over 10,000 supporters at Selhurst Park. Jody Handley was on target for Doncaster against Fulham who also claimed the Community Shield with a 1-0 win over the Belles in 2003.
2005: The Belles formalised a partnership link with Doncaster Rovers to enable the team to play a number of games at Belle Vue stadium and also to use the training facilities at Cantley Park. The partnership also led to a name-change of Doncaster Rovers Belles.
2006: The Belles worked alongside Doncaster Rovers, Doncaster Lakers Rugby Club, Doncaster Athletic Club and Doncaster Council on the development of the new 15,000-seater community stadium.
2009: The Belles were named as one of the eight members of the inaugural FA Women’s Super League, due to kick-off in March 2011.
In November 2009, The Belles for The Community Initiative was launched – becoming Britain’s first social enterprise delivering community, social, health and educational services with female sport as a focal point. This launch was based on extensive research with a large number of community organisations and agencies within Doncaster and South Yorkshire.
This year also saw Doncaster finish runners-up to Arsenal in the FA Women’s Premier League Cup final.
2013: The Football Association announced in April that, as part of an FA WSL restructure and expansion, Manchester City WFC would replace the Belles in the top tier in 2014. The Belles were placed in a new 10-team FA WSL 2.
After a decade of service to the Belles, long-serving manager John Buckley left the club in September 2013, with Gordon Staniforth was appointed into the head coach role two months later.
2014: Doncaster narrowly missed out on promotion, finishing runners-up to Sunderland as they snatched the solitary promotion spot on the final day of the FA WSL 2 season. Later in the year, Glen Harris was appointed as the Belles manager following Staniforth’s departure.
2015: Winning 14 games from 18, a superb season saw the Belles finish in the top two of the FA WSL 2 – securing promotion back into the top-flight. Boasting such a stunning campaign, the Belles received a hat-trick of accolades in the annual FA Women’s Football Awards for ‘FA WSL 2 Club of the Year’, as well as striker Courtney Sweetman-Kirk picking up ‘Players’ Player of the Year’ and ‘FA WSL 2 Top Goalscorer’.
2016: The Belles’ return to WSL1 was marred by fixture disruption and injuries to key players, resulting in relegation back to WSL2. The season also saw the departure of Harris as manager, who was replaced by his assistant, Emma Coates, who oversaw the club’s only win of the season on the final fixture against Reading Ladies.
2018: After finishing runners-up several times, the Belles finally got their hands on the WSL2 trophy. Emma Coates, Kate Rowson and Neil Redfearn all had spells as manager in our title-winning season, with our league win claimed just before kick-off in our penultimate game of the season.
2018/19: The 2018/19 season would see the Belles in the third tier of women’s football, with Zoey Shaw and her development squad all making the jump up to the first team, with home fixtures also being played at Rossington Main’s Oxford Street ground. After a tough start to the campaign, Shaw’s side picked up respectable results towards the end of the season, narrowly missing out on survival on the final day.
2019: In the club’s 50th anniversary year, the Belles join the Club Doncaster family, with Russ Green joining as chief executive. The Belles reverted to their historic colours of red and white which they wore when they formed, whilst keeping yellow and blue colours for their away kit.
For the 2019/20 season, the Belles will play in the FA Women’s National League Division One Midlands as they look to bounce back to the third tier at the first attempt.