Calling all Stattos

Football history buffs of the world, unite!

Maggie Pearce keeps an eye on Pia Sundhage in the Euro 1984 final

Maggie Pearce keeps an eye on Pia Sundhage in the Euro 1984 final

AUTHORITATIVE football stats site RSSSF.com has published a list of the oldest and youngest players to play and score for their countries.

Now the number crunchers behind the prestigious list, stattos of international repute, need your help to properly credit the women who should be on there.

It is thought that Maggie Kirkland (Pearce) and Linda Curl may have debuted for England before their 16th birthdays, and that Jeannie Allot hit the Scotland net at 16.

Frankly, if detail about such all-time greats is difficult to come by, how many other candidates are ‘hiding’ in plain sight?

Neil Morrison and his gimlet-eyed cohorts deserve unfettered praise for their efforts. For very few football history experts of this calibre give women’s stuff the time of day: never mind equal billing.

It has always been the case. As Pete Davies put it in I Lost My Heart To The Belles (1996): “the women didn’t keep track of their stats with the stamp-collector’s precision of the men”.

That MUST change for women’s football to put down roots, without which there can be no progress and no ascent. We all have our part to play.

Those in charge of promoting women’s football have long peddled tiresome baloney about explosions in participation numbers. Time and time again we hear that the game is on the cusp of its breakthrough.

The problem with this dubious narrative is that everything pre-breakthrough (ie. before now) is accorded lesser status.

The reset button is hit every two minutes. A long and proud heritage is ignored or, worse, denigrated when it ought to be the major selling point.

If any of you among this site’s small but discerning readership can aid RSSSF in their quest, then please… PLEASE chip in with any info – no matter how small.

Together we can put the women’s game on the record and end many years of shameful neglect. Thank you!

Goalkeeper blog: So Terry Wiseman was no Hope Solo…

…But without the Terrys there’d be no Hopes!

Or, Standing on the shoulders of giants

LOOK at this video from the Women’s Euro 1984 final. MovementSoccer deserves thanks for posting it – as well as the whole final it came from – on YouTube here.

It was a mightily big game in English football history. It’s heady stuff but only a tiny subset of soccer anoraks will appreciate it: a niche within a niche! Pearls before swine! I get all that.

Also, poking fun at England goalie Terry Wiseman’s kicking is only a little joke. Some gentle joshing. After all, irreverence (“bantz”) is the whole currency of “teh Interwebz”. I get that too.

There is a serious point in here somewhere though. And not just the point that Wiseman produced a string of top saves in that very game. Saves that Hope Solo herself might be proud of.

Watch that whole match and fair’s fair: no-one on the pitch in 1984 could keep goal like modern great Hope Solo. Nor could they run like a Lotta Schelin, or shoot like a Lotta Schelin. Or Alex Morgan, or Christen Press.

Nobody was as half as strong as Abby Wambach. I remember the USA playing at Leyton Orient in 2011, in the tunnel pre-match they were geeing themselves up by whooping and hollering in the American style.

Then Abby high-fived a flunkey and damn near tore the guy’s arm off!

Eh… anyway, in 1984 these players were out there, doing it. Making the sacrifices necessary to get these tournaments off the ground.

They had the dedication to train in their own time at their own cost. Taking unpaid leave from their jobs to proudly pull on their country’s shirt.

Their reward? Often sneering derision. Sometimes even medieval ignorance and bigotry. Hostile governing bodies wishing they’d all just disappear.

The “USWNT” (if you must) didn’t start until the following year. England – Wiseman and all – bashed them 3–1 in the teams’ first meeting.

We all know the USA kicked on from there and started winning everything in sight. But remember that without the likes of Terry Wiseman this would never have happened. There’d be no tournaments to win. No-one to beat. No-one who cared enough to watch!

Olympic gold medalist Hope Solo trains full-time, has the benefit of modern sports science and is at leisure to spend all day in the gym. Of course she can kick the ball further!

Probably even a size four miniature like the one Wiseman was trying to adjust to in the vid.

Probably even on a windy day in Gothenburg (where Solo once spent a season) with the sun in her eyes.

Commercial Artist Wiseman got to the top in two careers and now lives in America herself, working for Disney Pixar. Her footballing achievements remain criminally unrecognised at home.

But for the likes of Wiseman and Elisabeth Leidinge down the other end, the ones who got the ball rolling, every incremental success that women’s football gets is part of their legacy.

So let’s lay off the mickey taking. Or if we can’t lay off it, at least give it some context.

Verdict:


Now look here, Hope Solo is a great champion and would have hit the big time in whichever direction she went.

But if Terry Wiseman’s generation hadn’t paved the way, who’s to say it would have been in saving soccer balls?

It might have been in chucking a ball into a hoop. Or hitting a little ball with a bat. Or leaving the ball out altogether and running round a track.

It might have come in the national sport: dressing up as a sofa and excitedly running into other people dressed as sofas.

Where, you may ask, would the USWNT be then?

Match: Sweden 1–0 England, 12 May 1984, Ullevi (part 2)

Ullevi 12 May 1984 – Sweden 1–0 England

Pia Sundhage’s header beats England in first leg of Euro 84 final

Classic match report: Martin Reagan’s brave England stay in touch for second leg in Luton

Terry Wiseman 1984 final

Part two in a two-part series: profiling England’s classic Euro 1984 final defeat by Sweden. England won through to the inaugural continental showpiece by beating the Danes over two-legs in the semi-final. Opposition then awaited England in the shape of formidable Sweden and star centre-forward Pia Sundhage. Playing 35 minutes each-way with a size four ball, the sides met in front of a record crowd at Sweden’s national stadium, the Ullevi in Gothenburg. England’s gutsy 1–0 defeat left things delicately poised for the return match in Luton two weeks later.

Match Report


After their last four meetings ended in stalemate, England and Sweden wore the look of two fairly evenly matched teams with a healthy respect for eachother’s capabilities.

The match started tentatively, both teams sizing eachother up. Chapman’s initial forays down the left wing fizzled out under the close attentions of Ann Jansson.

Pat Chapman closely marshalled by Ann Jansson

Pat Chapman closely marshalled by Ann Jansson

It quickly became clear that Bampton and Coultard had a tough assignment against Sweden’s tenacious midfield general Anna Svenjeby, who deservedly picked up the Player of the Match award.

When Sweden forced a succession of corners mid way through the first-half, inspirational left-back Maggie Pearce could be heard to encourage and cajole, bellowing: “We’ve gone a bit quiet girls! Come on!”

In the 18th minute debutante Lena Videkull expertly chested down a right-wing cross and thumped a fierce shot off the base of the post, with Terry Wiseman beaten all ends up.

Seconds later the ball broke to Sundhage in the box and Sweden’s centre-forward blasted straight at Wiseman, who gathered at the second attempt.

Sundhage and Wiseman continued their personal duel in the 20th minute when England’s goalkeeper made a brave diving save at her rival’s feet… three yards outside the penalty area.

It was unclear whether Dutch ref Mynheer Bakker was feeling chivalrous or had left his cards in the dressing room! Wiseman was not even spoken to and England charged down the direct free kick.

England were penned back but on 23 minutes Åhman-Svensson’s awful outswinging corner landed at the feet of Linda Curl. A swift counter attack looked likely but even before Curl got her head up she was wiped out by a rugged challenge.

Play was held up for several minutes while physio Tony Brightwell administered treatment. Curl was in obvious discomfort but hobbled to her feet and soldiered on.

Linda Curl attended to by physio Tony Brightwell

Linda Curl attended to by physio Tony Brightwell

Ten minutes before the break, speedster Davis left her marker by the corner flag with a neat turn and marauded into the penalty area. When Börjesson abruptly shut the door in her face, Davis’s dying swan dive did nothing to impress the ref. It was a big step up in class for the youngster, still a diamond in the rough.

That was it until half-time and England reemerged to play into the breeze for the second period. Terry Wiseman had dispensed with her baseball cap for the second-half but was called into action almost immediately as Sweden turned the screw.

Debutante Anette Hansson – named in place of usual outside-left Helen Johansson, struck down with myocarditis – burst past Thomas and fired in a cross.

Sundhage’s diving header drew another sprawling save from Wiseman, who was alert enough to get her fingertips on the ball when it was fired straight back in from the right.

Deighan sliced the resultant corner over her own crossbar, to the audible mirth of commentator Grive, but England clung on and scrambled the ball away.

The second-half was nine minutes old before England mounted an attack of their own. Gallimore got her head to the ball in the penalty area, but she was crowded out and could only divert it well wide.

Two minutes later overworked Wiseman made a point blank save by her post. It was Videkull’s header from another of Hansson’s left-wing deliveries. Sweden’s debutantes were proving every bit as tall, athletic and talented as their new team-mates: both went on to have long careers in the Blågult (blue and yellow).

Reagan reacted by substituting Janet Turner on for Pat Chapman on 47 minutes. Chapman gave her sore back a rest while Turner tucked in a bit deeper to try and stem the Swedish tide.

Misinformed commentator Grive announced Turner as Hope Powell, but Cathy Gibb correctly reported it was Turner. Powell – later famous as England’s martinet coach – would have to wait until the second-leg in Luton to get a crack at the Swedes.

Sundhage bears down on Terry Wiseman

Sundhage bears down on Terry Wiseman

Wiseman’s best moment of all came after 49 minutes. Sundhage galloped clear of the English defence and was completely clean through, only for focussed Wiseman to pull off a breathtaking one-on-one save.

On 51 minutes Curl fed Bampton who burst into the box but scuffed England’s golden chance agonisingly wide with the outside of her right boot.

Until then Curl’s contribution had been minimal. Perhaps feeling the effects of her first-half injury she put in a shift but lacked the spark to get any change out of Sweden’s excellent centre-halves Börjesson and Kåberg.

The match swung back down the other end and on 53 minutes Thomas incurred the displeasure of the Dutch referee with a crude hack on Svenjeby, who was turning up everywhere like fine dust.

Thomas’ tackle may have had a whiff of retribution about it, but she went unpunished when Börjesson ballooned the free kick from 20 yards.

Two minutes later skipper Thomas redeemed herself with a great headed clearance off the goal line, with Wiseman beaten. Sundhage nodded the resultant corner onto the crossbar as England’s goal continued to lead a charmed life.

It couldn’t last and Pia Sundhage broke the deadlock on 57 minutes. Burevik was afforded too much space down the Swedish right and hoisted a perfectly measured cross into the danger area.

Wily Sundhage stole between the centre-halves, flashed across Hanson and headed powerfully into the bottom left-hand corner of Terry Wiseman’s goal from six yards out.

England centre-backs Hanson (left) and Gallimore (right)

England centre-backs Hanson (left) and Gallimore (right)

On 64 minutes Tony Brightwell was called into action again, this time for Gillian Coultard, who took a heavy knock while effecting a booming clearance. She accepted culprit Hansson’s apology but, sensibly, was in no rush to get up.

Four minutes from full-time, England’s hearts were in their mouths again. Sundhage’s scooped close range shot from a narrow angle bobbled right across the goal line and hit the far post.

Gallimore thwarted Videkull with a desperate sliding challenge in the goalmouth, but Pearce’s tired clearance only reached the edge of the box. Eva Andersson lashed a powerful shot just wide. It was all hands on deck!

Somehow it stayed out and, at 1–0, England lived to fight another day. A second would have been curtains: a two-goal deficit to this Swedish team surely irretrievable.

“Physically we gave everything but we can’t complain about a 1–0 defeat,” was Martin Reagan’s understated verdict.

Swedish goalscorer Pia Sundhage saw the second leg as a mere formality, assuring women’s soccer nut Thorsten Frennstedt: “We won’t miss that many chances for two games in a row”.

Match: Sweden 1–0 England, 12 May 1984, Ullevi

Ullevi 12 May 1984 – Sweden 1–0 England

Pia Sundhage’s header beats England in first leg of Euro 84 final

Classic match report: Martin Reagan’s brave England stay in touch for second leg in Luton

Euro1984TV

Part one in a two-part series: profiling England’s classic Euro 1984 final defeat by Sweden. England won through to the inaugural continental showpiece by beating the Danes over two-legs in the semi-final. Opposition then awaited England in the shape of formidable Sweden and star centre-forward Pia Sundhage. Playing 35 minutes each-way with a size four ball, the sides met in front of a record crowd at Sweden’s national stadium, the Ullevi in Gothenburg. England’s gutsy 1–0 defeat left things delicately poised for the return match in Luton two weeks later.

Venue


The final first-leg was staged at Gothenburg’s Ullevi Stadium; that’s the main Nya (new) Ullevi, not the smaller Gamla (old) Ullevi which the Swedish women’s national team use today.

The following year disaster was narrowly averted when Ullevi hosted a Bruce Springsteen concert. ‘The Boss’ and his E Street band whipped 64,000 locals into such a frenzy that they nearly brought the house down – literally. The owners had to shell out nearly £3m in repairs.

There was never any danger of collapse here, but the reported 5,662 crowd did represent a new record for a women’s game in Sweden. That figure looked a conservative estimate too, as the ground held 50,000+ back then and the grandstand looked pretty full.

Sweden’s national broadcaster Sveriges Television were in evidence, with commentary provided by veteran sportscaster Bengt Grive. It was a bright, clear day and the pitch was in very reasonable condition with just a few dry spots amongst the luscious green.

Beautiful big stadium, decent pitch, record crowd… “let’s play some football,” England’s players must have thought.

Previous meetings


This was the seventh time the teams had gone head-to-head, with Sweden victorious on three occasions. One win came on a penalty shootout after a 0–0 draw. The other games also finished level, leaving England still looking for their first win.

In the first ever meeting at Ullevi in June 1975, Sweden put a stick in previously unbeaten England’s spokes to win 2–0. A gangly 15-year-old named Pia Sundhage made her debut, while Ann Jansson scored both goals.

Proving that was no flash in the pan, the Swedes visited Plough Lane, Wimbledon in September 1975 and casually drubbed England 3–1. The English Women’s Football Association were reeling after sponsors pulled out and the match left them seriously out of pocket.

The next meeting was in July 1979, a third place play-off between two demoralised teams at the unofficial (non-UEFA backed) Euro 1979. Sweden prevailed on penalties when the game in Scafati, Italy finished goalless.

In September 1980 Filbert Street, Leicester, hosted a 1–1 friendly draw. Then in May 1982 a return friendly at Viskavallen, Kinna, also finished 1–1 over 90 minutes. Swedish TV broadcast the Kinna game and awarded Player of the Match Gill Coultard a snazzy tracksuit.

England boss Martin Reagan betrayed his military background with a brilliantly matter-of-fact match report in the WFA News:

On Tuesday May 25th, our party consisting of fourteen players, Officer-in-charge Sheila Rollinson, Physio Tony Brightwell and I assembled at Heathrow for an 11 a.m. departure for Sweden. On arrival at Gothenburg (2 p.m. Swedish time) we then travelled 12 miles to our hotel on the outskirts of Gothenburg…

Tracy Doe hit both England’s goals in these two friendlies, the one in 1980 was her third in three caps. For some reason Doe wasn’t included in the squad for this 1984 final but was listed in Howbury Grange’s line-up the previous week, alongside Bampton and Wiseman, as the Kent team outclassed Doncaster Belles 4–2 in the WFA Cup final at Sincil Bank, Lincoln.

Another friendly in October 1983 finished honours even. Two-all this time, at Charlton Athletic’s The Valley, in south-east London.

More generally, Sweden were enjoying something of a cultural renaissance: the week before the final had seen Herrey’s Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley triumph at the Eurovision Song Contest in Luxembourg. Great Britain’s effort, Love Games by Belle & The Devotions, was mercilessly booed and limped home in seventh place.

Teams


ENGLAND
Theresa Wiseman .1
(c) Carol Thomas .2
Morag Pearce .3
Lorraine Hanson .4
Angela Gallimore .5
Gillian Coultard .6
Liz Deighan .7
Deborah Bampton .8
Linda Curl .9
Kerry Davis .10
(out 47′) Pat Chapman .11

Substitute:
(on 47′) Janet Turner .15

Coach:
Martin Reagan

England were unchanged from the Denmark semi-final. Howbury Grange goalkeeper Terry Wiseman, her hair in trademark bunches, won her 18th cap. Skipper Carol Thomas (née McCune) of Rowntrees in York started at right-back, with Southampton’s vastly experienced Maggie Pearce (née Kirkland) at left-back. According to the return match programme Pearce won a 39th cap, while Thomas was credited with a 44th.

Angie Gallimore of Broadoak Ladies in Manchester formed a centre-back pairing with Doncaster Belles’ Lorraine Hanson (née Dobb), who had a heavily strapped left thigh. Gallimore sported a Marouane Fellaini-style perm and had been the left-back until switching inside to accommodate the return of Pearce from childbirth. As a callow 15-year-old, Pearce had been England’s first ever left-back against Scotland in November 1972. She returned to the fold in May 1982.

Versatile Hanson often played as a striker for the Belles so neither her or Gallimore were archetypal British centre-halves. That seemed to suit Reagan’s system as both could play out from the back, or if Swedish dangerwoman Pia Sundhage dropped deep they could go with her. Hanson won her 26th cap and Gallimore her 13th.

Much was asked of the midfield in Reagan’s flexible 4–3–3, which comprised Debbie Bampton, Gill Coultard and Liz Deighan. Nominally the central, holding midfielder, Bampton had just captained Howbury Grange to WFA Cup success. She was on the comeback trail after a bad injury and picked up the 12th cap of a long and glittering career.

Tigerish tackler Coultard won her 15th cap. Although synonymous with Doncaster Belles, she was playing for Rowntrees at the time: the works team from York’s big confectionery factory. She also played hockey for Rowntrees, even after going back to the Belles.

SVERIGE
1. Elisabeth Leidinge
2. Ann Jansson
3. Anette Börjesson (c)
4. Angelica Burevik
5. Mia Kåberg
6. Anna Svenjeby
7. Eva Andersson
8. Anette Hansson
9. Karin Åhman-Svensson
10.Lena Videkull
11. Pia Sundhage

Coach:
Ulf Lyfors

Liz Deighan was the third member of England’s midfield trio and, at 30, the oldest member of the starting XI. A slight but sinewy figure, bristling with energy, North-easterner Deighan played for St. Helens and collected a 35th cap.

On the left wing, Southampton’s Pat Chapman shrugged off a back injury to win her 28th cap. She’d been crocked in the Denmark semi-final, but also laid on the cross for Bampton’s winning header in Hjørring. Linda Curl of Norwich Ladies wore number 9 and won her 31st cap at the age of just 22.

Kerry Davis of Crewe Ladies started on the right, but with license to roam. An exceptional 21-year-old athlete with pace to burn, Davis clearly had the raw materials to reach the top in any sport. It was unusual in those days for football to win out, given the lack of rewards on offer. But England were sure glad it did: livewire Davis won her tenth cap and had already blasted 11 goals.

England’s substitute’s bench combined youth with experience. Friends of Fulham’s Brenda Sempare and Millwall Lioness Hope Powell, aged 22 and 17 respectively, were the young Tyros. Both midfielders debuted in the 6–0 rout of Ireland at Reading the previous September and had three caps apiece.

At the other end of the career spectrum was England’s original skipper Sheila Parker (née Porter), who had 30 caps. Parker began her career with Preston Ladies (the famous Dick, Kerr’s. Yes: Dick, Kerr’s, if you please!) Her astonishing career was a thread of continuity running through the different eras of women’s football in England. Along with Deighan she’d played for St. Helens in their 1983 WFA Cup final defeat and had moved on to Chorley.

Completing the squad was six times capped Terry Irvine, 32, Wiseman’s goalkeeping understudy who played for Aylesbury. And Janet Turner, a specialist left-winger who had also been in St. Helens’ 1983 Cup final team but had recently joined Kerry Davis at Crewe. Turner was the only sub to be used in Gothenburg and she collected a 12th cap.

In Part 2: Full match report and aftermath. ONLY on Women’s Football Archive, the leading resource for women’s football heritage and traditions.

Player: Sue Buckett

Sue Buckett: England’s original goalkeeper

Embed from Getty Images

Born: c.1946, Portsmouth

Position: Goalkeeper

Debut: Scotland (A) 18 November 1972

Occupation: Clerical supervisor (1972), Senior project engineer (1992)

Sue Buckett is an English football great. As England women’s first ever goalkeeper she won 30 caps in a 12-year international career which took her all over Europe. In a brilliant club career with Southampton, she played in 11 WFA Cup finals and won eight of them. Those who saw her play describe a calm and unshowy presence, who made acrobatic saves and plucked crosses out of the air with minimum fuss.

Most of the following info about Buckett’s achievements comes from the indispensable works of her former team mates, Sue Lopez (Women on the Ball 1997) and Wendy Owen (Kicking Against Tradition 2005)…

Southampton

In 1966 the intersection of England’s World Cup win and Southampton FC’s promotion to the top-flight kick-started a women’s football revival in the unlikely setting of leafy Hampshire. The famous Dick, Kerr’s Ladies of Preston had folded the previous year, so the lights had all but gone out on women’s football in England.

Buckett was part of a ‘new wave’ of women’s footballers, who had little in common with Dick, Kerr’s hefty northern lasses who puffed Woodbines and ate bread and drippings. Instead these well-mannered young ladies sprang from a Tory heartland and espoused a “jolly hockey sticks” ethos.

A pupil at prim Western Park Girls’ School in Southampton, Buckett was a talented netballer and came close to representing Team GB in canoeing. After getting bitten by the football bug she quit the other sports, except badminton which kept her reflexes in tune.

By necessity, she was a completely self taught goalkeeper. She admired Gordon Banks and started going to The Dell in order to study the top professional goalies at close hand.

A women’s league popped up with matches played on a Sunday at the public pitches on Southampton Common. Buckett played for Flame United, a team of office girls from Southern Gas.

Flame narrowly won the first ever league title in 66–67, then inked a sponsorship deal with local bookie Charlie Malianza. They rebranded as ‘Inter Malianza’, a tongue-in-cheek homage to Helenio Herrera’s Inter Milan, who dominated Europe in the 1960s before being laid low by Jock Stein’s Glasgow Celtic.

Buckett made her bow for the Southampton representative XI on 7 October 1967, in a 9–0 destruction of Ipswich at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Netley. Interestingly she played outfield, Lynn Attwood of Cunard was the original Southampton custodian.

Lopez reports that Buckett’s first game ‘between the sticks’ came on 18 July 1969, in a prestige friendly against crack Czechoslovakian outfit Spartak Jihlava at Nursling recreation ground. A 4–1 win sent Spartak back behind the old Iron Curtain with their tail firmly between their legs.

The match was attended by Welshman Ron Davies, who was the star centre forward of the male Southampton FC team recently promoted into the top-flight. He was the Rickie Lambert of his day!

In August 1967 Davies bagged a four-goal haul against Manchester United at Old Trafford, after which United boss Matt Busby hailed him the best in Europe. Sue Lopez remembers down-to-earth Davies as fantastically supportive of the women’s team’s endeavours.

At the 1970 Deal Tournament final, Buckett was party to a curious one–v–one sudden death penalty shootout between Southampton’s Sue Lopez and Cambuslang Hooverettes’ Paddy McGroarty. Buckett saved future England teammate McGroarty’s first effort and saw the second kick missed. Lopez also missed her first kick but secured Southampton’s first trophy with her second.

In 1971 Southampton beat out more Scottish opposition, Stewarton Thistle this time, to secure the Mitre Trophy (also known as the WFA Cup). Ultimately Buckett played in all ten of Southampton’s WFA Cup finals and collected eight winner’s medals.

When other Southampton players started to hang up their boots, around about 1978 or so, Buckett was determined to soldier on. She had won everything it was possible to win, but as a relative latecomer she had plenty of football left in her and wanted standards kept high.

When Southampton WFC folded in 1986, Buckett was among a group of players who headed to Red Star Southampton.

Hardy perennial Buckett was still around when the inaugural National League kicked off in 1991. In the opening match Red Star hosted Merseysiders Knowsley United at their Cam Alders ground on 15 September 1991.

Irish international Geraldine Williams famously netted the League’s first ever goal to put Red Star ahead after 17 seconds. Lee doubled the advantage on seven minutes, before Knowsley’s Woollam crashed a volley past Buckett on 17 minutes.

Red Star held on to win 2–1 and finished second to all-conquering Doncaster Belles that season. They also lost 4–0 to the Belles in the 1992 WFA Cup final at Prenton Park.

Forty-seven-year-old Buckett made a record 11th final appearance, but Donny’s Karen Walker extended her record of scoring a hat-trick in every round to ensure there would be no fairytale finish for Buckett.

Sue Lopez reported that Buckett hung up her gloves in 1994 and became the club physio. These days that would mean many years of exams and poring over boring diagrams. Luckily back then you only needed basic first aid training and an ability to hold a wet sponge.

Red Star were promptly relegated, but linked up with Southampton FC men and became Southampton Saints in 1995. In Saints’ 2–0 Cup final defeat to Arsenal Ladies in 1999, Fifty-something (!) Buckett was named on the bench as substitute goalkeeper.

While coaching at the Saints Buckett unearthed promising goalie Aman Dosanj, who later signed for Arsenal and won a scholarship to the US. Dosanj made a little bit of football history when she won a youth cap and became the first British Asian to represent England at any level.

Buckett later became a more than useful golfer on the veterans’ circuit, turning out for the prestigious Royal Winchester club.

England


Buckett and Sue Lopez were among a handful of Southampton players in Harry Batt’s England XI, which travelled to Northern Italy for the FIEFF European Cup in 1969.

When the WFA put together an official England team in 1972, Buckett was the obvious choice at number 1. But she still had to go through the regional trials to secure her place alongside young understudy, Susan Whyatt of Macclesfield.

England team mate Wendy Owen (2005) wrote:

“Sue Buckett, at twenty-eight years old, was their highly experienced goalkeeper. Eric [Worthington] chose her to be the backbone of the England team, a role she was to fulfil for many years. She was a supremely agile shot stopper, decisive on crosses and prepared to marshal her defence with calm authority.”

In the first match at Greenock’s Ravenscraig Stadium, England went behind when Buckett was beaten by Scotland’s Mary Carr. The ball came through a ruck of players—what the Scots might call a “stramash”— and past unsighted Buckett who dived in the icy mud.

Things looked ropey when England went 2–0 down in the first half, a corner kick sailing over Buckett’s head and straight into the net. To be fair, the scorer was a certain Rose Reilly – one of the greatest players of all time. Buckett’s blushes were spared when gutsy England hit back to win 3–2.

Redoubtable centre-half Wendy Owen gave Buckett’s safe hands much of the credit for England’s success in the following years, when they saw off all comers until being soundly beaten by Sweden (1975), then Italy (1976).

England’s 3–0 win over Belgium at the Dell on 31 October 1978 was a big deal for Buckett, who had often stood on those terraces as a paying supporter.

With evergreen Buckett maintaining top form into her mid-thirties and beyond, 1980s England boss Martin Reagan nevertheless had to do some long-term planning.

Terri Irvine, the Irish-born Aylesbury stopper who found fame on TV’s It’s a Knockout, was drafted in for a few games. But Buckett’s long-term successor in England’s gloves proved to be Terry Wiseman, the footballing illustrator who eventually became a legend in her own right.

Buckett collected a total of 30 England caps from 1972–1981 and a brief comeback in 1984. She never played in a major tournament because UEFA and FIFA shamefully dragged their heels in setting them up.