Match: Ireland 0–4 Denmark, 17 April 1985, Glenmalure Park

Glenmalure Park 17 April 1985 – Ireland 0–4 Denmark

Denmark too strong for Ireland in Dublin

Classic match report: Lone Smidt Hansen-inspired Danes thump Ireland 4–0 in prestige friendly

As Martin O’Neill’s boys in green battle Denmark for a place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, we’ve delved into the archives to profile this women’s match from April 1985. Irish fans hoping for encouragement may wish to look away now!

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PSST, word to the wise… everyone knows that GOSSIP is the single most destructive force in the universe. I know it, you know it, even the cats and dogs in the street know it.

And if nothing else women’s football clubs are veritable lightening rods of gossip.

The England national team brings together some of the top gossips from the four corners of the country, producing a gossip epicentre of truly mind-boggling proportions. Gossip on the scale of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. A Gossip payload sparking very real fears that it might rupture the time-space continuum and pull the universe in on itself.

Yadda yadda yadda. Ach, it’s soon old news anyway, tomorrow’s chip wrappers, as they say. Then the cycle repeats – there’s nothing new under the sun.

Twas ever thus. Making her way in the game a young Hope Powell heard on the grapevine that senior Pro Liz Deighan had questioned her fitness to England boss Martin Reagan. She seethed over it for some 30 years then vented in her book.

Back then Deighan was a sinewy powerhouse. Hope a cocky young pretender. Saintly boss Martin Reagan proudly called Hope a Rolls Royce of a player. But the sharp tongues and warring cliques in the dressing room sharktank made it heavy going, for Hope and her one-time paramour Brenda Sempare.

Rugged defender Angie Gallimore shunned the tittle-tattle and reached out to Hope. The gift of a Brazil shirt (‘cos you play like a Brazilian’) sealed their unlikely north-south pact.

When Hope copped racist abuse from a player in a club match, Sempare was on hand to punch the culprit’s lights out. Biff!

Fast-forward 15 years and Hope’s the wily old stager. Getting less of a look-in from England boss Ted Copeland she’s not bitter: “To be fair Ted had a type of player, and I wasn’t it!”

As England manager Hope was eventually ousted by a mutinous rabble of players. Her targets weren’t result-based, she protested, perhaps forgetting ALL managers are a hostage to results.

Preening mentor Sir Trevor Brooking failed to do his own dirty work, slithering away on his belly leaving a slimy yellow stripe. That his ears were burning is a racing cert.

All this ain’t a woman thing, it’s a football thing.

John Aldridge wanted a new contract at Liverpool and accused manager Kenny Dalglish of defecating on him when it wasn’t forthcoming. For his part Dalglish retorted that Aldo had defecated on the club. It’s hard to imagine this excursion into schoolyard gibberish was the finest moment of either man’s storied career.

Taking the scatological theme one step further, disgruntled Scottish journeyman Ian McCall once curled off a genuine “jobby” into Simon Stainrod’s shoe. Yuck!

On that note, we’re hearing on the jungle drums that the current ‘crisis’ in women’s football is gonna run and run… until the next one, anyway.

Players: Pat Firth

Patricia “Pat” Firth: Wunderkind striker and pioneering female coach

With Foden’s in 1974. Photo from the NFM #HiddenHistory project

Born: c.1957, Leeds

Position: Forward

Debut: Scotland (H) 23 June 1973

Occupation: Production worker (1976)

A striking prodigy from Leeds who burst on the scene in a flurry of GOALS. She blasted a sensational debut hat-trick – England’s first ever – against Scotland in June 1973. At club level she helped Foden’s wrest the WFA Cup crown away from Southampton in 1974, then returned to Yorkshire with the ever-improving Doncaster Belles in 1976. After nine goals in 11 England caps, a series of debilitating knee injuries saw her retrain as a goalkeeper and turn to coaching. As a pioneering female player/manager she passed her FA Preliminary licence and took both Rowntrees and Bronte to the WFA Cup semi-finals. In January 1987 she was appointed as Yorkshire and Humberside regional coach, the first woman to hold such a senior coaching role within the old WFA setup. She also coached the Welsh national team during the 1980s.

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Prenton Park, Birkenhead 27 April 1991 – Doncaster Belles 0–1 Millwall Lionesses

Yvonne Baldeo hits winner as Lionesses stun Belles and seize Cup

Midfield warriors Gillian Coultard and Debbie Bampton pose with D.J. Bear prior to locking horns again

Classic match report: Millwall end Belles hoodoo to win their first national Cup

…Back to the football then (craving your indulgence Eni!) England kick-off their latest bid for World Cup glory at Tranmere Rovers’ Prenton Park, in an opening qualifier against Russia later this month. And that’s all the excuse we need to recall Prenton Park’s first big women’s fixture; this classic Cup final in 1991 between Doncaster Belles and Millwall Lionesses. Odds-on favourites Donny lost out on a fifth win in their eighth final, as Yvonne Baldeo’s 65th-minute winner handed the spoils to first-time finalists Millwall.

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Op-ed: ‘Wiki Geeks’ locked in spiral of failure

Meet the small band of unfortunates who make up ‘Wikiproject Football’ – Wikipedia’s all-male cabal of soccer anoraks.

Perspective and Wikipedia ‘notability’: “These are small, the ones out there are far away”

There is an excellent Wikipedia ‘task force’ specialising in women’s football, with some talented and hard-working contributors. But their aims are frustrated at every turn by the handful of obsessed losers at the main project, who block-vote to rig deletion discussions and skew the inclusion criteria in favour of their pet subjects.

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Match: England 2–0 France, 7 November 1974, Plough Lane

Plough Lane – England 2–0 France

England beat France to secure eighth straight win

Classic match report: Southampton duo Davies and Lopez score to down Les Bleues at Wimbledon

In 1974 the British economy was in the toilet due to crackpot ‘austerity’ measures. Terrorism lurked on the nation’s streets due to disastrous foreign policy failures. While a feeble government colluded with backward Loyalist bigots from Northern Ireland. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose! Still, at least in those days England could beat France at women’s football, which they’ve never managed since…

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Match: England 8–0 Scotland, 23 June 1973, Manor Park

Manor Park 23 June 1973 – England 8–0 Scotland

England thrash Scotland in first ever home match

Classic match report: Lionesses rattle in EIGHT as roof falls in on sweltered Scots

England’s first official home match took place in the rarefied environs of Manor Park, Nuneaton on 23 June 1973. With England leading 2–0 at half-time, the peely-wally Scots ran out of puff. A final score of 8–0 remains their record defeat. Pat Firth’s debut hat-trick, braces from Pat Davies and moonlighting Scot Paddy McGroarty, and a late finish from sub Eileen Foreman undid Scotland, whose captain Mary Anderson had to go off at half-time.

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