Report: Scotland’s moral right to the Women’s FA Cup

The real story of Eric Worthington and the Women’s FA Cup

Annual Scotland–England match trophy was repurposed as English WFA Cup

Women’s Football Archive sounds the pibroch for footballing justice

Last hurrah: Eric Worthington’s Cup gets its swan song in 1997

England’s first ‘official’ match on home soil took place in the rarefied environs of Manor Park, Nuneaton on 23 June 1973. The failure to secure a Football League ground for the event – even in the off-season – was a measure of the lasting sabotage wrought on women’s football by the FA’s 1921 ban. Opponents Scotland had been edged out 3–2 in the teams’ first fixture the previous November. In contrast to that blizzard by the Clyde, Nuneaton was in the midst of a scorching heat wave. With England leading 2–0 at half-time, the roof fell in on the peely-wally Scots. 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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Report: Suffragettes of Football, National Football Museum, Manchester, 7 March 2017

Or, England’s Lost Generation tells us what it was really like

Our special correspondent ‘An Audience Observer’ writes from the front line of women’s football history…

As part of International Women’s Week, the National Football Museum and the BBC teamed up to present a discussion panel with regard to the pioneers of the women’s game. The list of attendees to the panel were Pat Gregory, Carol Thomas, Liz Deighan, Kerry Davis and Rachel Brown-Finnis, ably led by the BBC’s Eilidh Barbour.

The event opened with a short BBC film outlining the early history of the women’s game including contributions from the indomitable Gregory, Sue Lopez, Sylvia Gore and the champion of the women’s game in the day in the form of Lawrie McMenemy, who coined the phrase the “Suffragettes of football”.

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Match: England 1–0 Sweden (3–4 PSO), 27 May 1984, Kenilworth Road

Kenilworth Road 27 May 1984 – England 1–0 Sweden (3–4 on penalties)

Linda Curl’s cracker levels the tie but Swedes edge it on penalties

Classic match report: Sweden win the first ever UEFA Women’s Euro, but brave England push them all the way

Photo from the much-missed Damfotboll.com

Women’s Football Archive Exclusive: the definitive account of England’s Euro 84 final clash with Sweden. Clunkily entitled the UEFA Competition For National Representative Women’s Teams, the inaugural continental showpiece went down to the wire in torrential rain at Luton’s Kenilworth Road. 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, two weeks previously. England’s gutsy 1–0 defeat left things delicately poised for this return match in Luton…

 

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EURO 2017 Blog: Will Scotland be Aye Ready?

Crumbs from the funding table too little, too late for Scots soccer hopefuls

Scotland women face an uphill task at the 2017 Euro Championships in the Netherlands

CARDS ON THE TABLE: we desperately want Scotland’s women to succeed at Euro 17. Okay, almost our entire knowledge of Scotland and Scottish culture comes from Irvine Welsh novels, Celtic FC books and online football forums. But no-one would be happier than Women’s Football Archive to see the Tartan Army triumphantly “giving it laldy” to the strains of their anthem Bits N Pieces in Holland this summer.

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When Martin Reagan went in to bat for women’s football

Martin Reagan (1924–2016): The man who stepped up to save women’s football in England

Women’s football lost one of our own with Martin Reagan’s recent passing, but his deeds will never be forgotten

martin-reagan

In May 1984 the England women’s football team manager Martin Reagan returned from Gothenburg with a creditable 1–0 defeat for his team, and a blueprint for soccer success. Ex-pro Reagan knew exactly what England needed to do to reel in their continental rivals: copy the Super Swedes. In the days before women’s football was trendy he proudly shouted his support from the rooftops. But his sterling efforts were thwarted at every turn, by an unholy alliance of Football Association intransigence and – yes – sex bias, which was still firmly rooted in 20th Century British life.

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Players: Jeannie Allott

Brilliant Jeannie Allott played international football for England AND the Netherlands

Women's Football Archive

Jeannie Allott

woman with long blonde hair jumping for a football

Born: c.1957, Crewe

Position: Left-winger

Debut: Scotland (A) 18 November 1972

Occupation: Schoolgirl (1972)

Featured in the Sports Illustrated ‘Faces in the Crowd’ column in the 29 November 1965 issue:

Jean Allott, 8, a Crewe, England schoolgirl, scored two goals in her debut at center forward for the Wistaston Green Primary School boys’ soccer team. Said her headmaster, “She passes intelligently with her left foot and goes into the tackle as hard as any of the boys.”

Sue Lopez described “a phenomenally fast, strong, tricky left-winger.”

Allott had reportedly been playing for Fodens for eight years when selected to the first England team in 1972, but was only 16. Branded “a real livewire” character by Wendy Owen, she was the team’s joker.

Some sources credit a goal to Allott in England’s famous 3–2 debut win in Greenock. The footage shows Allott collecting a partly-cleared corner and…

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Sunderland and the WSL – professionalism in English women’s football

One step forward, two steps back: debt-ridden Sunderland axe pro women’s setup

Women’s Football Archive ponders the implications of Wearside giants Sunderland slashing their women’s team’s budget, at a time of make-or-break for the FA’s fledgling WSL project.

EXPONENTIALLY fewer female players, compared to the men, means everyone knows who the best ones are. So it’s easy for a club to hoover them all up then thrash everybody else.

Arsenal did it for years, and Manchester City are doing it now.

This goes on further afield too. When our best come up against the Lyons and Wolfsburgs we are invariably sent packing. You can set your watch by it.

Give Women’s Football Archive a team with twice Man City’s budget and we’d round up a mish-mash of Yanks, Franks and Germans – then give “Citeh” their dinner.

Or we’d just play them at their own game: wait for the England players’ contracts to lapse, then woo them all away with bigger deals.

Money matters


Listen, the FA’s WSL model relies on raising standards across the board. That means getting full-time training for – with all due respect – sub-top level players.

The FA model also relies on getting someone else to pay for it. And they are not sniffy about who coughs up.

On the eve of WSL I, Birmingham City owner Carson Yeung flung the club’s Ladies a bin liner full of cash. Cash of – ahem – very dubious provenance.

Such largesse saw star-studded Brum scoop the FA Women’s Cup and a couple of runners-up spots. But with Yeung caged and the cupboard bare, the big names soon slunk away to greener pastures.

At the other end of the spectrum is a stand up guy like Ray Trew at Lincoln/Notts County. To any rational onlooker, his longstanding support of women’s football makes NO sense.

Okay, let’s not dust off the halo just yet – you don’t attain Ray’s station in life by being a choirboy.

But judged squarely on his actions down the years, women’s soccer fans of every stripe have much to thank the former Notts County supremo for.

Women’s Football Archive has been privately assured that Trew is the real deal. A principled football man who absorbed the women’s club’s losses in his business empire, all to send a positive life lesson to his daughters.

Like Mo Fayed at Fulham 15 years earlier, he kept writing the cheques while the FA failed to deliver on their promises of jam tomorrow.

Over at Doncaster Belles, backers BPP – a US-style private university – are perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea.

But let’s talk about what they are: a licence to print money.

They bankroll the Belles’ full-time operation with chump change found down the back of their sofa.

Great for the Belles and great for the game. Ironically, though, BPP’s involvement only came about during the FA’s bungling of the Belles’ 2013 demotion and the subsequent outcry.

Sunderland


Younger readers may not realise that Sunderland are a grand old football club with a proud heritage. The team of luminaries including Raich Carter, Len Shackleton and Charles Buchan.

Buchan was a sort of male precursor of Sue Lopez: a great, thinking player turned coach, turned writer. An advocate of the game. What the North Americans call a “builder”.

Quite how the modern Sunderland have contrived to put themselves £140m in debt – while the BPL slosh buckets of Sky TV’s billions over themselves – is anybody’s guess.

It must be a legacy of crackpot decisions like axing Mick McCarthy, a rough-hewn gaffer who invariably leaves clubs in better nick than he finds them. Or ditching Martin O’Neill for wacky Paolo Di Canio.

Incredibly, the relegation-haunted Mackems are STILL paying off massive transfer fees in respect of countless duds, who had to be shipped out for peanuts.

That makes choking off funding to their own women’s section all the more ludicrous.

Booting out the full-timers condemns Sunderland to life in the WSL 1 slow lane and almost certain relegation.

Even if they did beat the drop, the WSL’s capricious licencing criteria will likely doom them to an artificial, Donny Belles-style demotion.

“A previously successful model” and the War on Fans


The club’s mealy-mouthed statement, which branded savage cuts a reversion to “a previously successful part-time model” cruelly blindsided Sunderland’s female pro’s.

The rest of us were left perplexed. Just how stupid do they think we are?

The last time Sunderland’s men came close to winning anything of note, in 1992, they were paying honest plodders like Anton Rogan and John Byrne a few hundred quid a week.

Will they revert to this “previously successful model” too? Or will they keep flushing millions down the toilet, wasted on hapless Davie Moyes’ rock-bottom outfit?

The “previously successful model” soundbite – a piece of Orwellian doublespeak – came from CEO Martin Bain, a former Glasgow Rangers official with links to Israel and South Africa.

Bain steered Rangers onto the rocks, while up to his armpits in the toxic Employee Benefit Trust (EBT) tax-cheat which proved the Ibrox club’s undoing.

His tenure saw Rangers sold for a quid then crash into liquidation. Indeed, with the club in its death throes Bain went to court to “ring fence” his dues, elbowing aside hundreds of small creditors and debenture holders.

Quite reasonably, many will construe his attack on Sunderland’s women as simply a new front in his wider war on the Wearside club’s fans.

Women’s Football Archive Verdict:


Now look here, whatever anyone says about Glasgow Rangers, they were a football club with a long unbroken history. And for that to end the way it did was nothing short of shameful.

It behoves all of us in the women’s football community to ensure that Sunderland’s women do not go the same way.

Ever since the days of Liz Deighan, Pauline Chilton and Christine Hutchinson, the north-east has been a hotbed of the English women’s game.

Then Mick Mulhern’s red and white talent factory churned out a seemingly endless conveyor belt of Lionesses, including Jill Scott, Steph Houghton, Carly Telford and Lucy Bronze.

But with the exodus of full-timers already underway, it seems the best the club can hope for is a period of consolidation at WSL 2 level. And the prompt appearance of a more reliable income stream.

Make no mistake, if self-sabotaging Sunderland are turfed out of the FA WSL altogether then oblivion awaits.

Previous knifes in the back from their dopey, irresponsible ‘parent club’ have already wasted eight of the Lady Black Cats’ nine lives.

Their demise would spell disaster for the WSL’s stated aim of widening England’s talent base – with the nearest top-flight club in Manchester.

AT the moment, any spindly-legged 13-year-old who does more than three keepy-uppies at her ‘Regional Talent Centre’ is whisked into the England setup. That puts her on the radar of all the top clubs.

There are NO hidden gems any more and it’s all in danger of becoming a stage-managed procession. A bit too predictable.

In the old Championship Manager 2 video games you could resort to the ol’ cheat codes. Stick Gabriel Batistuta and Romário up front, with Andreas Möller ‘in the hole’ loading the bullets, and you wouldn’t go far wrong.

Which was fun… for a while, until it got boring. Yet the FA expect folk to open their wallets and fund perennial WSL also-rans in an equally lopsided arrangement.

Let’s get real. Not even BPL clubs – notorious financial basket cases – or guys with the intelligence and maturity of Ray Trew will keep picking up the tab in those circumstances.

Maybe THAT’S the underlying issue here?