Match: Lowestoft 2–0 Cleveland, 1 May 1982, Loftus Road

Loftus Road 1 May 1982 – Lowestoft Ladies 2–0 Cleveland Ladies

Woe for Cleveland as Lowestoft’s Linda Curl and Angie Poppy put a new name on the Women’s FA Cup

Classic match report: Spartans dashed by Waves who secure 1982 WFA Cup

In May 1982 goals from Linda Curl (26) and Angela Poppy (58) gave Lowestoft their first WFA Cup, at the expense of Cleveland. The event was staged at a Football League ground for the first time, on – topically – a controversial plastic pitch at QPR’s Loftus Road in Shepherd’s Bush, London.

This was the competition’s 12th final and only the second not to feature Southampton WFC, following St Helens’ 1–0 victory over Preston North End at Enfield in 1980. Eleven of the next 12 finals were contested by Doncaster Belles.

Football League whistler Danny Vickers (Ilford) took charge of the 80-minute showpiece, which was sponsored by “TRIMTAPE”. This was an exercise audio cassette tape devised and marketed by lycra-clad dance legend Eileen Fairbane.

Kick-off was at 12.30 pm, prior to promotion-chasing QPR’s 7–1 Second Division win over Bolton Wanderers at 3pm. The men’s match attracted a crowd of 9,995.


Cleveland Ladies – The Spartans

Cleveland Spartans 1982

Cleveland were formed in 1976 as Cleveland Rangers. The Middlesbrough outfit edged out Southampton in an epic semi-final, winning a replay 2–1 after the first game in Hampshire was locked at 1–1 after extra-time.

After getting a bye in the first round, they had seen off Kilnhurst (4–1), Fodens (5–2), Aylesbury (1–0) and BYC Argyle (4–0) to book their place in the semi.

In the WFA’s patchwork regional setup Cleveland had been shoehorned into the Nottingham League (Middlesbrough is nearly 130 miles from Nottingham). There they lived in the shadow of Doncaster Belles.

The club was managed by Andy Neal, the son of Chelsea and ex–Middlesbrough manager John Neal. Experienced campaigner Janet Turner, a science teacher and FA preliminary coach, also took on some coaching responsibilities.

This Janet Turner is not to be confused with her namesake and contemporary who played on the left-wing for St Helens and Crewe and was a hero of England’s Euro 1984 run.

Cleveland’s previous coach John Simms had stood in as the WFA’s England manager for 1979’s unofficial Euro championship in Italy, after Tommy Tranter had left to manage in Iceland.


Lowestoft Ladies – The Waves

Formed in 1971, Lowestoft shared Lowestoft Town men’s Crown Meadow ground and were gunning for a double. They recaptured the South East Women’s League title in 1981–82 and won through to their second WFA Cup final. “The Waves” had lost 1–0 to Southampton in 1979 at Waterlooville.

On 21 March 1981 Lowestoft made history in facing rivals Maidstone at Carrow Road, Norwich, immediately after the Norwich City v Arsenal men’s First Division match. This pioneered the ‘double-header’ and was the first women’s match to share the bill with a Football League game.

Sporting their classic 80s Bukta kit, Lowestoft accounted for Colchester (4–1), Suffolk Bluebirds (7–0), Old Actonians (2–0), Preston North End (3–1) and Doncaster Belles (4–2). Maidstone were edged out 1–0 in a tense semi-final.

Manager Stewart Reynolds had assembled a strong team, bringing in England internationals Debbie Bampton and Vicky Johnson as close-season signings from Maidstone and Spurs, respectively.

They joined local favourites Angie Poppy and Linda Curl, prolific goalscorers and also both England internationals. The match programme described Poppy, only 28, as a ‘former international’ with five caps.

Young skipper Jackie Slack, a defender, made her England debut a couple of years later at the 1984 Mundialito. Wunderkind centre-back Sallie Ann Jackson, 16, bagged consecutive WFA Cup winner’s medals in 1984, 1985 and 1986 with three different clubs then turned pro with AC Milan.

England midfield powerhouse Debbie Bampton played in this game before taking up an offer to play and coach in Auckland, New Zealand. A broken leg restricted her to coaching and she was back for England’s Euro 84 qualifying campaign.


The Match

The match exploded into life and surged from end-to-end, both teams struggling to adapt to the ridiculous conditions underfoot. QPR’s plastic ‘Omniturf’ was a very early form of the artificial turf which marred the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

LOWESTOFT

1. Rita Fossey

2. Mary Hinson

3. Jackie Slack (c)

4. Vicky Johnson (out 78′)

5. Sallie Jackson

6. Kim Blowers

7. Angie Poppy

8. Deborah Bampton

9. Shirley Jones (out 69′)

10.Linda Curl

11.Julie Bolton

Substitutes:

12.Avril Nolloth (in 69′)

13.Kate Purdom (in 78′)

14.Hannah Davidson

Coach: Stewart Reynolds

CLEVELAND

Janice Elliott .1

Pamela Williams .2

Anna Citro .3

Marrie Wieczorek .4

Denise Markham .5

Susan Anderson .6

(out 69′) (c) Ann Duffy .7

Margaret Anderson .8

Jane Hughes .9

Teresa Murphy.10

Julie Tomlinson.11

Substitutes:

Jane Laugher.12

Janet Turner.13

(in 69′) Carol Wickham.14

Julie Hogan.15

Coach: Andy Neal

Lowestoft’s defence closely watched Cleveland crackshot Jane Hughes, who had plundered 22 goals that season and hit the semi-final winner over Southampton.

On 26 minutes Lowestoft’s class told and Linda Curl, one of the finest penalty-box predators English football has ever seen, scored a typical opportunist goal.

Cleveland’s tireless full-back Anna Citro, an England basketball player who toiled at Middlesbrough’s ICI factory in her day job, enjoyed a titanic struggle with Lowestoft counterpart Vicky Johnson.

Marrie “Maz” Wieczorek gave a typically whole-hearted midfield performance for Cleveland. The club’s reigning Player of the Year, she collected three caps for England in 1980 and became Cleveland’s first international player.

Gritty northerners Cleveland kept battling to stem the tide but were undone again on 58 minutes when Poppy turned in a corner from the right.

Both teams fought on with determination and aggression, with no quarter asked or given. On 69 minutes Lowestoft’s Shirley Jones was carried off on a stretcher, nursing a broken collarbone.

Former FA secretary Sir Denis Follows was on hand to present the trophy to Waves captain Jackie Slack. Women’s football lost a great friend and ally when Sir Denis died the following year.

Cathy Gibb’s match report in the WFA News said of gallant runners-up Cleveland:

Left bitterly dejected and reflecting on what might have been, the North-East losers Cleveland contributed to a game that perhaps failed to reach the capable heights of a classic cup final but in fact won the hearts of many new sporting friends in the world of professionalism.


Post–match

The victorious Lowestoft team were granted a civic reception at Lowestoft Town Hall. There they were warmly greeted by Waveney District Council’s first female chair Daphne Mellor.

Romance blossomed between bearded Lowestoft boss Stew Reynolds and goalscorer Angie Poppy. Their son Carl Poppy had football in his genes and turned out for Lowestoft Town at Wembley in the 2008 FA Vase final.

This was the high-water mark for Lowestoft, who rapidly hit the skids. The team spectacularly failed to defend their trophy, being crushed 7–0 by Warminster in the fourth round of the 1982–83 competition. Instead Doncaster Belles scooped their first Cup at Sincil Bank and built a dynasty by reaching 11 of the next 12 finals.

Lowestoft Ladies reformed in 2011 and currently play in the Eastern Region Premier Division. In January 2015 the ’82 squad held a reunion at the current team’s FA Women’s Cup tie with Luton, inspiring their young counterparts to a famous 2–1 win.

At some point Cleveland formally linked up with Middlesbrough FC and became Middlesbrough Ladies. Stalwart Maz Wieczorek stayed involved and served the club for many years as manager and honorary president. She famously led the club on a historic tour to North Korea in 2010. They are currently scrapping for points in Division One (North) of the FA Women’s Premier League.


Photos

1. Cleveland’s Anna Citro (left) kicks across Vicky Johnson of Lowestoft (right) during the match.
2. Cleveland’s cup final squad. Back (L–R): Jane Laugher, Margaret Anderson, Pamela Williams, Susan Anderson, Caroline Wickham, Jane Hughes, Denise Markham, Kim Moore. Front (L–R): Teresa Murphy, Julie Hogan, Anna Citro, Janet Turner, Marrie Wisczorek, Ann Duffy (captain), Janice Elliott, Gillian Hood.
3. Jubilant Lowestoft players on their lap of honour.
4. Statuesque Lowestoft skipper Jackie Slack hoists the famous Women’s FA trophy.

Arsenal Ladies FC are a franchise

Vic Akers

Franchisee: Vic Akers

Arsenal Ladies are an MK Dons–style franchise formed in Islington, 1987.

In the 1980s Arsenal’s Vic Akers had copied Millwall’s successful community project and wanted to reproduce the Lionesses’ pioneering youth structure for girls too.

In 1987 Akers took a big shortcut and effectively bought his way into the upper echelons of the domestic women’s game by “amalgamating” Aylesbury Ladies.

Aylesbury were an established club and no mugs. The previous season they had knocked Friends of Fulham, the holders, out of the Women’s FA Cup.

Arsenal Ladies inherited Welsh goal–machine Naldra ‘Naz’ Ball from Aylesbury and her goals bagged the new franchise’s first few titles.

Akers became a modern day Alfred Frankland, thinking nothing of inviting players from rival teams along to training.

No rules were broken – after all, there were no contracts to break.

But inducements were offered and the franchise’s “shamateur” ethos quickly led them to Dick, Kerr’s-style dominance over their strictly amateur rivals.

An unhealthy stranglehold was only broken in recent years, other teams could offer inducements of their own and the playing field levelled out.

These days the Arsenal franchise have been dragged back into a pack of WSL mid–table battlers.

R.I.P. Gero Bisanz

Gero Bisanz

Women’s football pioneer Gero Bisanz has died of a heart attack aged 78. He was manager of the German women’s national team between 1982 and 1996.

The architect of countless painful drubbings for England’s WNT, Polish–born Bisanz played for FC Cologne and coached Bayer Leverkusen in the early 1970s.

He was the West German FA’s director of coaching when he was tasked with putting together a women’s national team in 1982.

In 1981 an invite to the Taiwan Tournament caused red faces at German soccer HQ because they had no women’s national team to send.

Bisanz was the top coach in the country — an indication that the Germans meant business with their new venture.

From a standing start the Germans quickly challenged the Scandinavians and Italians, seen as the leading lights of the day.

Meanwhile England have NEVER beaten Germany since the first ever meeting, a 2–0 reverse at the ‘Mundialito’ in August 1984.

English counterpart Martin Reagan could only dream of the fairly mild backing Bisanz got from his association.

Bisanz cracked it in 1989 — winning the Euro Championship on home soil. Rivals Norway were seen off 4–1 before 22,000 fans in Osnabrück.

Notoriously, each member of the winning squad was rewarded only with a naff tea set by the West German FA.

Miffed Gero later saw the funny side and donated his to the German football museum.

He stood down after the inaugural women’s football tournament at the 1996 Olympics. Sidekick Tina Theune was anointed his successor and continued German domination of women’s football into the 21st Century.