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.
Patricia “Pat” Firth: Wunderkind striker and pioneering female coach
Born: c.1957, Leeds
Debut: Scotland (H) 23 June 1973
Occupation: Production worker (1976)