Five players NOT in the English Football Hall of Fame

…Who should be!

NFM

National Football Museum’s ‘one female’ policy reeks of tokenism


Recently retired Arsenal stalwart Faye White was named in the English Football Hall of Fame this month. While Kelly Smith and Rachel Brown are nailed–on certs to join White in the next couple of years. Who could begrudge these warriors their place in the pantheon of greats? Not Women’s Football Archive, that’s for sure. But where does that leave earlier players, already overlooked for too long? Here’s five whose bizarre exclusion makes the whole thing a JOKE…


TerryWiseman1980small

Theresa ‘Terry’ Wiseman England’s number one throughout the eighties: tritely dubbed “the female Shilton”. London-born, she guarded the nets with distinction at Spurs, Maidstone, Howbury Grange and Friends of Fulham, winning back-to-back W.F.A. Cups and some 60 England caps. Also an animator who worked on Raymond Briggs’ masterpiece The Snowman and ended up Stateside, working for Disney Pixar. A cornerstone of England’s Euro 1984 successes, she repeatedly thwarted Pia Sundhage and pals in the final first–leg in Gothenburg.


Kerry Davis Burst on the scene in 1982 with two goals against Northern Ireland in Crewe. Hit two in the Belfast return, notched the only goal in Dublin, all four in Scotland and finished England’s historic Euro 84 campaign with 11 goals in 11 games. Signed by Lazio in 1985, she spent four years as a Serie A pro, also playing for Trani and Napoli. Turned out for Knowsley (Liverpool), Croydon and Millwall Lionesses on the Premier League circuit.

A favourite of 90s England boss Ted Copeland: her time in Italy made her a diligent trainer and gave her a physical confidence often lacking in female players. Went to the 1995 World Cup as a veteran. Adroit, versatile, elusive, loyal, she plundered upwards of 40 goals for the Three Lionesses in a 16-year career.


CarolMcCune1977small

Carol Thomas (née McCune) England’s time-served skipper from 1976 to 1985 who made the Guinness Book of Records when she crashed the 50-cap barrier. A redoubtable right-back from Hull with a tigeress-ish tackle. Certifiably football-daft, she tied the knot in 1979 and went to the Euros in Italy by way of a honeymoon! Played club soccer for Hull Brewery, Preston Rangers, CP Doncaster and Rowntrees FC of York. The protégée of much-loved Flo Bilton, who loomed large over women’s football in the East Riding of Yorkshire and beyond.


Sue Buckett One of a few Southampton WFC candidates to belatedly join Sue Lopez, the sole Saints inductee, in the national Hall of Fame. Buckett was England’s first goalie in 1972, whose incredible longevity saw her playing in the Women’s National Premier League some 20 years later. She backstopped the peerless Southampton WFC side to an avalanche of silverware and won 30 England caps in a 12-year national team career.


Linda Curl Goalscoring policewoman who made her England bow at 15 and retired as the all-time record cap holder. A big game player who popped up with crucial goals for Martin Reagan‘s genuinely top class England team. Another Euro 84 hero who scored in both the semi-final and final. Curl was not slow in striking goals for her clubs either, firing both Lowestoft and Norwich to W.F.A. Cup glory before winding down her playing days with spells at Town & County and Ipswich Town.



None of these players had a central contract. They didn’t get glossy photo shoots or expenses-paid jollies to La Manga and Cyprus. But they all made sacrifices over many years to write their names indelibly in the annals of English football history. Honourable mentions go to Pat Chapman, Liz Deighan and Lorraine Hanson (née Dobb), further proof—should it be needed—that women’s football in England did not start in 1993.

Players: Lynda Hale

Lynda Hale: Flying winger with a cannonball shot

Smiling women with shoulder-length dark hair in white t shirt

Born: c.1954, Southampton

Position: Right winger

Debut: Scotland (A) 18 November 1972

Occupation: Trainee machine operator (1972)

England’s original outside right who wrote her name in the record books by scoring in the first ever match against Scotland. With seven WFA Cup winner’s medals from nine final appearances she also found sustained glory with Southampton WFC. Read on to discover how the explosive power in Hale’s trusty right boot changed the course of English football history forever…

Most of the following info about Hale’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


On 7 October 1967 Hale played her first game for Southampton, alongside fellow debutantes Pat Davies and Sue Buckett, in a 9–0 win over Ipswich at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Netley.

Youngsters Hale and Davies had been blooded by coach Dave Case, first with Patstone United then in the combined Southampton team.

Lopez (1997) said of her team mate Hale that she: “had an amazing right foot that enabled her to power her way past defenders, and had, perhaps, the hardest shot of any woman.”

The work of football historian Gail Newsham means Hale can now be put into context alongside Lily Parr of Dick, Kerr’s Ladies, an earlier player who also lay claim to the hardest shot title, albeit with her left foot rather than right.

Like Parr, Hale’s rocket shot was as much to do with technique, or timing, as it was brute strength.

This was in evidence at the 1970 Deal Tournament, under the watchful eye of FA supremo Sir Denis Follows.

Sir Denis went along under his own steam and was left purring at the quality of football on show. Particularly a fizzing shot from Hale which he fondly recalled years later: “nearly broke the crossbar”.

This brought the WFA their most significant convert to the cause and a powerful ally against the more backward elements in the FA. Sir Denis played no small part part in finally getting the 1921 ban lifted. He afforded the WFA the space they needed, to not exactly thrive, but to keep plugging away.

In 1971 Southampton beat Ayrshire cracks Stewarton Thistle 4–1 at Crystal Palace to secure the first ever Mitre Trophy (also known as the WFA Cup). Hale started the match and Sir Denis and his wife were present as guests of honour.

In 1971 Hale visited Rome after befriending an Italian player when Southampton faced Sue Lopez’s Roma in a series of matches in the USA.

This was much to the fury of Southampton and the WFA, who were already whipped into a lather by a moral panic about professional Italian clubs “poaching” the top English players.

No one really knew where the money was coming from for all these pro teams and “unsanctioned” national team tournaments.

Perhaps inspired by reading The Godfather (the film came out the following year), Saints boss Norman Holloway reckoned the Mafia were involved.

Holloway’s moany letter to the WFA got a reply saying that Stanley Rous, the English president of FIFA, was personally looking into the allegations.

In any event Hale was not seriously considering a transfer to the pro ranks, according to Lopez.

Hale won the WFA Cup again in 1972 and in 1973 she scored in Southampton’s 2–0 final win over Westhorn United: “a fine strike,” said Lopez.

Before the 1973 Cup final Hale had scored 22 goals across 18 League and Cup matches that season. Not a bad return for a wide player, but over on the other wing Pat Chapman had plundered 82 (eighty-two!) in 21 matches.

The 1974 final was famously lost to Fodens, but Southampton bounced back to reclaim the trophy in 1975 and 1976.

In 1977 Hale scored “a superb solo effort”, the winner in a pulsating 3–2 League Cup final win over rivals QPR. But Southampton lost 1–0 to the same opponents in the WFA Cup final at Dulwich Hamlet.

A measure of revenge was gained in the following year’s final when Southampton’s Sharon Roberts, sister of notorious Spurs hatchet man Graham Roberts, put in an early ‘reducer’ on QPR’s Hazel Ross. QPR fell apart and lost 8–2, Pat Chapman helping herself to a double hat-trick.

Again Southampton bounced back, beating Lowestoft 1–0 to win the 1979 edition of the Cup. But the team was on the wane, and got beat by Cleveland Spartans at the quarter-final stage in 1979–80.

A last hurrah came in 1981, but by then Hale had moved on to form a nearby club called Solent. Versatile Clare Lambert later came through Solent’s ranks to emulate Hale and play for England.

England


In 1972, 18–year–old starlet Hale made it through a costly and gruelling set of regional trials into Eric Worthington’s first ever official England squad.

That November she patrolled the right wing berth in England’s first ever official match, a 3–2 win over Scotland at Ravenscraig Park in Greenock, near Glasgow.

With England 2–1 down in blizzard conditions, Hale beat two defenders and the goalkeeper in a race to the ball and her composed, low finish from inside the area brought England back on level terms. Jeannie Allott hit England’s winner from the other flank.

A grainy black and white photo reproduced in Wendy Owen’s book shows Hale in the squad for the 3–0 win over France in April 1973, but wearing a substitute’s sweatshirt.

She started England’s fourth match, against Northern Ireland at Twerton Park, Bath, and hit two goals under the floodlights – the second a “35-yard lob”.

She was also listed on the team sheet as England thumped Scotland 8–0 at Nuneaton in June 1973, under interim coach John Adams.

But competition for places was especially fierce in Hale’s position. In the 1973 England v Possibles match, the culmination of that season’s trials, Hale’s opposite number seven was Lesley Stirling, the tough Lancastrian from Preston North End.

By November 1974’s 2–0 win over France at Plough Lane, Hale’s place on the right had been taken by QPR’s Sandra Choat, who won praise for her tricky wing play.

The match programme for England’s first ever defeat, against Sweden in June 1975, lists Hale at number 3. With no other obvious left-back in the team it seems like she was filling in.

Hale was apparently not fancied by Tommy Tranter and her England career was much shorter than some of her Southampton colleagues’.

Missing out on the 1978 Belgium game before a record crowd at The Dell must have been a particular disappointment.

But she certainly played her part: Who is to say where we would all be if Hale had not caught the eye of Sir Denis Follows and given him his Road to Damascus moment?

Or if she had not equalised and England had suffered an embarrassing draw—or even defeat—to the Scots?

Or if her Italian transfer rumours had not got the authorities’ knickers in a twist, prompting them to take tighter control of women’s football and (eventually) run it properly?