Debbie Bampton: Highly-decorated midfield powerhouse
Born: 7 October 1961, Sidcup
Debut: Netherlands (A) 30 September 1978
Occupation: Cashier (1981), Selector (1982), Courier (1987), Footballer (1988), Postwoman (2005)
Part One: England
England manager Tommy Tranter handed 16-year-old schoolgirl Bampton her England debut on 30 September 1978 in a friendly with the Netherlands in Vlissingen.
Bampton’s overriding memory of the event was the inordinately tight shorts supplied to England’s players. They were wholly unsuitable attire for running about on a reclaimed island on the windswept North Sea coast.
As a mere slip of a lass the offending garments did not present Bampton with too many problems. But some of her more mature, fuller-figured team-mates apparently struggled.
In Daily Mail parlance, they had to “pour their curves” into the “sultry numbers”.
Unsurprisingly, England crashed to a comprehensive 3–1 defeat, Pat Chapman scoring the goal. Bampton came off the sub’s bench for 20 minutes and hated it.
It was the typical sort of amateurish nonsense which saw several leading players quit the game in 1978 and 1979, clearing the decks for the next generation.
Bampton went to the 1981 Portopia Tournament in Japan. She hit England’s final goal in the 4–0 win over the hosts in Kobe.
Sadly, the debut micro-shorts were not to be the last sartorial scandal encountered by Bampton during her Three Lionesses career.
Trooping off after another match in Italy, she went to swap shirts with an opponent – but England boss Martin Reagan wasn’t having any of it.
His steely touchline glare had Bampton wriggling back into her top quicker than you can say: “Ciao”!
Martin was a straight-laced guy. After all, he was a product of the FA administration which picked Ron Greenwood over “Ol’ Big ‘Ed” himself, Brian Clough.
But he wasn’t scandalised by this airing of early sports-bra technology. More likely he knew the potless Women’s Football Association (WFA) could ill afford a replacement shirt!
A broken leg which washed out Bampton’s spell in New Zealand (see below) also kept her out of England’s first ever UEFA qualifiers starting in 1982.
Battling back into contention, she played a key role in the Denmark semi-final. At Gresty Road, Crewe, England edged a nervy encounter 2–1.
The WFA credited Bampton with England’s second-half winner, although Danish FA records suggest Liz Deighan did the damage.
In any event, the second-leg in Hjørring was settled by Bampton’s towering header from Pat Chapman’s corner. The team celebrated winning through to the final with an impromptu human pyramid.
The final first-leg at Sweden’s Ullevi national stadium was backs to the wall stuff. England were fortunate to escape with a 1–0 defeat, but Bampton so nearly grabbed a priceless away goal.
Collecting possession from Linda Curl, she burst into the box but flicked a weak shot agonisingly wide of Elisabeth Leidinge’s post.
When the second-leg in Luton went to penalties, Bampton showed an iron nerve to convert England’s third kick. But Curl and Hanson put theirs too near Leidinge, who, ankle-deep in mud, failed to dive out of the way.
In August 1984 the Charity Shield between Everton and Liverpool at Wembley Stadium took place in front of 100,000 fans.
The WFA was invited to stage a short curtain-raiser and plumped for a six-a-side knockabout between Bampton’s Howbury Grange, Millwall Lionesses, St Helens and a Merseyside/Wirral Select.
Billed as the first time women had played football at Wembley Stadium, Linda Whitehead hailed a major “breakthrough”.
Amidst farcical scenes, Millwall were eventually declared winners because their goalkeeper (Sue Street) had the fewest touches!
That was on the Saturday and on the Monday Bampton was basking in Venetian Riviera sunshine, as England’s Mundialito campaign kicked-off against Belgium.
A hectic schedule of Euro finals, Wembley and then the ‘little World Cup’ in Italy: it seemed women’s football was at last reaching critical mass.
Bampton was back in Italy for the following year’s Mundialito, which England won. They handily beat upstarts the United States 3–1 along the way.
She dipped out of the starting line-up during the Euro 1987 qualifying campaign. Reagan perhaps allowing two creative ‘luxury players’ Hope Powell and Brenda Sempare free reign against the outmatched Irish and Scots.
But for the big games Bampton was always in there, usually alongside Gillian Coultard in a double pivot midfield. Both featured as England lost 3–2 to rivals Sweden in the Euro 87 semi-final, after extra-time.
Bampton’s toughness and famed aerial prowess meant she could also fill in at centre-half, like she did after the successful Angie Gallimore–Lorraine Hanson axis was broken up by the latter’s pregnancy in 1986.
Influential Bampton remained an England regular throughout the 1980s. When Carol Thomas (née McCune) retired in 1985, she was the natural choice to inherit the captaincy.
She clocked up her 50th cap in England’s 4–0 win at Love Street, Paisley on 6 May 1990 and was presented with a handsome silver plate.
An ill-timed injury during a period of upheaval saw Bampton lose the England captaincy. Barrie Williams – the WFA’s replacement for sacked Martin Reagan – handed Coultard the armband during his short time in the hotseat.
When the FA took over running the national team in 1993 Coultard was still captain, only to be publicly demoted by Ted Copeland on the eve of the 1995 World Cup.
Bampton was back as captain for the tournament in Sweden but the squad was riven with factions. There was no beef with Coultard, though, who remained Bampton’s room-mate.
The World Cup showed England were being left behind by other nations. This reached its nadir in May 1997 during back-to-back thrashings by the United States: 5–0 in San Jose then 6–0 in Portland.
Bampton, the sweeper in England’s ultra-defensive formation, toiled in the heat – and she wasn’t the only one.
Frequently moving as though wading through treacle, with a proverbial piano on her back, she was still among the better performers in England’s forlorn attempts at damage limitation.
Full-time athletes like Olympic superstar Mia Hamm were by then on a completely different planet to England’s enthusiastic but aging amateurs.
That was not the players’ fault of course. It was a result of chronic developmental failures, compounded over many years – as Bampton herself had long been saying.
Bampton’s 19-year, 95-cap England service came to an abrupt halt the following month.
She was unceremoniously bombed-out by Copeland, who had left it up to her whether she travelled to Norway for another meaningless friendly in June 1997.
Stressed by playing for and managing Croydon, she took Copeland up on his offer to sit the game out, but was never called upon again.
No thanks, no fanfare, no nothing!
Unimpressed Bampton later branded Copeland a decent coach but “too insensitive to work with women”.
Part Two: Club
Dad Albert and mum Ann played a key role in Bampton’s career and at many of her clubs. Sister Lorraine also dabbled in football, but not as seriously as Debbie.
A childhood judoka, Bampton recalled honing her football skills in time-honoured tradition: in the back garden with her dad.
Wendy Owen (2005) recalled Bampton as a highly-promising young team-mate at Maidstone. A crocked neck meant Owen’s own best days were well behind her by then.
But with Albert as manager, Debbie as captain and free-scoring Tracy Doe up front, Maidstone were soon a force to be reckoned with.
The Kent outfit reached the 1981 WFA Cup semi-final but were defeated by the holders, St Helens, at Maidstone United’s Athletic Ground.
Silverware-hungry Bampton switched to ambitious Lowestoft in 1981 and won the 1982 WFA Cup in her first season, playing in the final at Loftus Road.
She was chosen to play and coach in New Zealand with Auckland WFC from May to September 1982, alongside Audrey Rigby of Notts Rangers and Caroline Jones of Manor Athletic.
Rigby, a member of England’s 1976 Home Championships squad, thrived Down Under. She was their 1985 Player of the Year and won 14 caps as a NZ international.
Bampton endured a less enjoyable trip, consigned to the sidelines as a broken leg restricted her to coaching instead of playing.
Back in Blighty, Bampton captained Howbury Grange in the 1984 WFA Cup final at Sincil Bank, Lincoln. She collected her second winner’s medal as Doncaster Belles were seen off 4–2.
At some point in 1984–85 Bampton signed for Millwall Lionesses who were developing their pioneering link with the Millwall men’s club community department.
The Lionesses were beaten by Doncaster Belles in both the 1986 and 1987 WFA Cup semi-finals.
In 1987 Bampton was playing for Millwall and worked delivering mail for the Department of the Environment, when she left for Serie A club Trani.
She visited Trani’s Kerry Davis for a holiday and trained with the Italian giants, who promptly offered a two-year pro deal.
Like Denis Law and Jimmy Greaves a generation earlier, Bampton found performance-related pay taken to extremes in Italy.
That was okay for Davis, who had gone all-in. But for Bampton – trying to keep commitments ticking over at home – it proved unworkable.
She enjoyed the football: forming a formidable midfield duo with Viviana Bontacchio, having crossed swords with the tireless little Brescian while on England duty.
Trani lost the Cup final 2–1 to Modena and finished second in the league, twelve points behind Lazio. But Bampton had already decided to bail when Trani went bust on the eve of the 1988–89 campaign.
Back at Millwall Lionesses, Bampton was part of an ever-improving team. This culminated in claiming the 1991 WFA Cup at Prenton Park against Doncaster Belles.
When the WFA formed a National League in 1991, the Millwall team broke up and Bampton headed to London rivals Friends of Fulham, who were re-branding as Wimbledon.
The team started brightly, with a flurry of goals from Bampton’s England team-mate Marieanne Spacey, but never recovered from a 5–1 home thumping by Doncaster Belles in November 1991.
In 1992–93 Bampton played for newly-promoted Arsenal. As a self-confessed “Gooner” she was proud to collect a historic treble in her first season.
Vic Akers’s well-resourced Arsenal franchise made a mockery of the bookies’ questionable pre-season odds (12–1!) in the National League.
The 1993 WFA Cup final at Oxford’s Manor Ground saw Bampton inadvertently hospitalise her old friend and adversary, Doncaster Belles’ Gillian Coultard, after a first-half collision.
That coincided with Arsenal scoring twice in first-half stoppage time, in their eventual 3–0 win. Bampton pocketed her fourth winner’s gong from her fourth final.
A trophyless 1993–94 season with Arsenal preceded a move into player-management with Croydon, the club formed as Bromley Borough in 1991 by a few of Bampton’s old Millwall Lionesses pals.
In 1995–96 the team overcame a monster end of season fixture pile-up to beat the Belles to the title on goal difference. Despite being out on their feet, they also beat Liverpool on penalties in the Cup final at The Den.
Pete Davies’s I Lost my Heart to the Belles (1996) – unashamedly a lovelorn paean to Doncaster Belles – portrayed Bampton in the role of cartoon villain.
That was poetic licence by Davies. But Bampton’s brand of straight-talking did not endear her to everyone.
It possibly went against her when the FA appointed under-qualified Hope Powell, her Croydon skipper, over her head as England manager in 1998.
Forthright Bampton was never one to shirk a confrontation. Especially about complacency, for which she reserved a special loathing.
Steeped in football, Bampton’s intimate knowledge of the game meant she could wring the best out of her charges.
She balanced a relatively small squad and valued the – ahem – footballer’s footballers who played alongside gifted artisans like Hope Powell and Jo Broadhurst.
As well as dad Albert, ex-Millwall Lionneses boss Alan May was involved with the coaching. Broadhurst’s dad Brian also helped out but Bampton retained overall control, even while playing.
Tactical team talks were given via the medium of Subbuteo, much to the players’ hilarity.
This all fostered amazing team spirit at Croydon, who went unbeaten in the league for two years. Although they did develop an irksome habit of losing Cup finals to Arsenal.
Croydon recaptured the League title in 1998–99 and the squad cheekily went along to the Cup final, to cheer on Arsenal’s opponents Southampton Saints.
Arsenal gaffer Vic Akers was left seething after finding a boozy a capella rendition of “Where’s Yer Treble Gone?” on his answerphone messages. The culprit was never found, although Bampton naturally fell under suspicion!
Another double was secured in 2000 when Doncaster Belles were controversially edged out 2–1 in the Cup final at Bramall Lane in Sheffield.
When Croydon were franchised to Charlton Athletic in summer 2000, Bampton sensationally quit.
By all previous indications, Bampton was not averse to a tie-up with a bigger men’s club, which had been on the cards for a while.
But something about the way it was handled did not sit right. Bampton had her principles and voted with her feet. Even with vastly improved resources, the club never enjoyed success on the same scale.
Postponing retirement yet again, Bampton’s next destination as a player raised eyebrows: Doncaster Belles.
Not only is Doncaster 200 miles north of Croydon, but Bampton’s club career was hitherto defined by numerous ding-dong battles against the Belles, over some 20 years.
On the opening day of the 2000–01 season, Donny faced Premier League new girls Barry Town in Wales. A goal down after 79 minutes, they roared back to win 3–1 with 38-year-old Bampton notching the second.
On her induction to the National Football Museum Hall of Fame in 2005, Bampton could proudly say: “By the time I finished I had achieved everything I wanted in the game”.
Bampton played on for a few years with Eastbourne Borough in the lower divisions, under – who else? – dad Albert. She also held brief coaching assignments at Whitehawk and Lewes.
Maureen Martin (née Reynolds): Teak-tough England defender and Cup-winning Norwich manager
Born: c.1952, Norwich
Debut: Belgium (A) 1 May 1980
Occupation: Office manager (1981), Company director (1986)
Norwich-born Maureen Reynolds made her England bow against Belgium in May 1980, a low-key 2–1 defeat at Albertpark, Ostende in Martin Reagan‘s first match.
She picked up caps against Wales and Sweden in 1980, then scored a brace in a 5–0 friendly win over Ireland at Dalymount Park, Dublin, 2 May 1981. This match was notable for the debuts of Gillian Coultard and Angie Gallimore.
Reynolds remained in the squad for the next game against Norway at Cambridge United’s Abbey Stadium. England’s chastening 3–0 defeat led to changes.
A “greatly concerned” Martin Reagan – always more given to reason than ranting – noted that the second goal came direct from a corner, for the first time in his two-year tenure.
Following a downturn in Reynolds’ fortunes at club level, she was not in the party picked for the next game in Kinna, Sweden in May 1982. She dropped out of the reckoning for England’s inaugural UEFA campaign in 1982–1984.
Like many of English football’s female pioneers, Reynolds’ childhood overlapped with the FA’s demented 1921 ban.
That meant she came to the game relatively late at 19. Playing, and scoring, in a friendly match for local outfit Costessey LFC saw her bitten by the bug.
It also brought her to the attention of Lowestoft Ladies, known as The Waves, the best team in the area who moved quickly to snap her up.
A host of regional baubles followed for Reynolds, starting with the 1975 East Anglian League and League Cup double. Spearheaded by England ace Linda Curl, the team also had a great knack in the All England 5-a-side Championship, winning in 1976, 1977, 1979 and 1980.
But in those days the Holy Grail for all women’s teams was the national WFA Cup. In 1978–79 Reynolds skippered ever-improving Lowestoft to the WFA Cup final at Waterlooville FC’s Jubilee Park.
There they faced the dominant Southampton WFC team of the era, who had appeared in every single final to date – this was their ninth on the trot!
Despite a Player of the Match performance from Lowestoft goalie Rita Fossey, Saints’ prolific England winger Pat Chapman’s close range goal on six minutes consigned The Waves to noble defeat.
The leadership qualities of Reynolds, an office manager in her day job, came to the fore as a tough-tackling defender and captain, but she also took an important off field role as club secretary.
The Waves made history in March 1981 when they faced Maidstone at Carrow Road, Norwich, in a double header with Norwich City men’s match against Arsenal.
Boardroom shenanigans in July 1981 saw Reynolds sensationally quit as secretary and captain, while Fossey quit as treasurer. The Lowestoft Journal breathlessly reported Reynolds was then “kicked out” of the club.
Instead, she turned out for Biggleswade LFC in 1981–82.
It must have rankled with Reynolds when Lowestoft finally scooped WFA Cup gold without her, seeing off Cleveland Spartans at Loftus Road in May 1982.
But workaholic Reynolds was already putting her next scheme in place. After quietly coaching a kids’ team at a local youth club for seven months, she deemed them ready for adult football, unveiling Norwich Ladies “The Fledgelings” in April 1982.
Reynolds roped in Andrew Anderson, the bloke who designed Norwich City (men’s) club badge, to create its female equivalent.
As founder-player-manager-secretary, Norwich Ladies was very much Reynolds’ baby. She used her shrewd businesswoman head to sniff out sponsorship with Robinson’s Motor Services and Photostatic Copiers.
When Lowestoft Ladies’s league collapsed and the team broke up, Reynolds buttressed her youthful Norwich side with England’s Linda Curl and Vicki Johnson. The upstarts then made light work of the East Anglian League in their debut 1982–83 season, bringing home the League and League Cup.
For 1983–84 Norwich switched to the Chiltern League in search of a higher standard of competition. They sourced a minibus for the 100-mile trek to away fixtures.
Having to enter in the League’s second division meant a year of farcically lopsided wins. This reached its nadir when Linda Curl infamously plundered 22 goals in a 40–0 drubbing of Milton Keynes Reserves on 25th September 1983. Goal-hungry cop Curl helped herself to 97 of Norwich’s 176 league strikes that season.
Disaster struck for Reynolds in the 1–0 third round WFA Cup defeat by Hemel Hempstead. Her ankle was badly broken in two places and had to be fused back together with a steel plate. That brought the curtain down on Reynolds’ glittering playing career and ended her dreams of an England recall.
With more time for coaching, Reynolds ran the league select team and assisted the Midland Region boss Richard Hanson (hubby of Donny Belles and England great Lorraine). Together they dethroned the North Region who had dominated the WFA’s regional competition.
Norwich kept improving and reached the WFA Cup semi-final in 1985, only to suffer an anticlimactic 5–0 battering by Doncaster Belles at Carrow Road.
They went one better the following year, after adding the excellent Sallie Ann Jackson to the squad. Jackson was another Lowestoft refugee who had already pocketed three Cup winner’s medals (1982, 1984, 1985).
The 1986 final at Carrow Road saw Norwich gain revenge over Doncaster Belles, edging out the Pride of Yorkshire in a seven goal thriller. Miranda Colk, Sallie Jackson, Linda Curl and Julie Bowler got the goals.
As part of a Renaissance in Norfolk football it sat alongside, and arguably eclipsed, Norwich City men’s League Cup win the previous year. In a little over four years Reynolds had led Norwich Ladies from nowhere to the promised land of WFA Cup glory.
The Cup win was the elusive third leg of a treble but women’s football in those days was a volatile business. No sooner had the champagne gone flat than seven players quit the team – after clashing with “strict disciplinarian” Reynolds.
A 2012 interview with Donna James of Village Book revealed Reynolds (Maureen Martin by marriage) has bravely battled Arthritis and Fybromyalgia in her later years.
Rightly, she remained fiercely proud of her footballing deeds. Her unwavering faith, canine companion Kinsey and the occasional white chocolate Toblerone keep her in high spirits!
Lynda Hale: Flying winger with a cannonball shot
Born: c.1954, Southampton
Position: Right winger
Debut: Scotland (A) 18 November 1972
Occupation: Trainee machine operator (1972)
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)…
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.
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?
Kelly Smith – Goals in International Matches
Kelly Smith – Goals in International Matches
The outstanding English player, who obtained 120 international caps with her two National Teams, has entered the symbolic but exclusive circle of players with a Century of Caps. All matches are friendlies unless stated otherwise.
Born: 29-10-1978 in Watford Country: England Caps: 116 (W57-D25-L34- GF232-GA161 - %59.91) Goals: 46 (% 0.40 per match) Age First Cap: 17 yr 3 d 1-11-1995 vs. Italy 1-1 Age Last Cap: 35 yr 191 d 8-5-2014 vs. Ukraine 4-0 National Team Career: 18 yr 188 d
Cap Goals Date Venue Opponent Score Competition 1 1-11-95 Sunderland Italy 1-1 European Champ. Qual. 2 1 1 19-11-95 London Croatia 5-0 European Champ. Qual. 3 1 11- 2-96 Benevente Portugal 5-0 European Champ. Qual. 4 1 2 16- 3-96 Cosenza Italy 1-2 European Champ. Qual. 5 1 3 18- 4-96 Osijek Croatia 2-0 European Champ. Qual. 6 1 4 19- 5-96 Brentford Portugal 3-0 European Champ. Qual. 7 4 8- 9-96 Montilla Spain 1-2 European Champ. Qual. 8 4 29- 9-96 Birkenhead Spain 1-1 European Champ. Qual. 9 4 27- 2-97 Preston Germany 4-6 10 4 7- 3-97 Sheffield Scotland 6-0 11 4 23- 4-97 Turin Italy 0-2 12 4 9- 5-97 San Jose United States 0-5 13 4 11- 5-97 Portland United States 0-6 14 4 9- 6-97 Lillestrøm Norway 0-4 15 4 8- 3-98 London Germany 0-1 World Cup Qualifier 16 4 14- 5-98 Oldham Norway 1-2 World Cup Qualifier 17 4 23- 5-98 Waalwijk Netherlands 1-2 World Cup Qualifier 18 4 27- 7-98 Dagenham Sweden 0-1 19 4 15- 8-98 Lillestrøm Norway 0-2 World Cup Qualifier 20 4 20- 2-00 Barnsley Portugal 2-0 European Champ. Qual. 21 4 7- 3-00 Norwich Norway 0-3 European Champ. Qual. 22 4 4- 6-00 Moss Norway 0-8 European Champ. Qual. 23 1 5 30-10-00 Boryspil Ukraine 2-1 European Champ. Qual. 24 5 28-11-00 London Ukraine 2-0 European Champ. Qual. 25 1 6 22- 3-01 Luton Spain 4-2 26 6 24- 6-01 Jena Russia 1-1 European Championship 27 6 27- 6-01 Jena Sweden 0-4 European Championship 28 6 30- 6-01 Jena Germany 0-3 European Championship 29 6 27- 9-01 Kassel Germany 1-3 World Cup Qualifier 30 6 4-11-01 Grimsby Netherlands 0-0 World Cup Qualifier 31 6 25-01-02 La Manga Sweden 0-5 32 2 8 24- 2-02 Portsmouth Portugal 3-0 World Cup Qualifier 33 1 9 23- 3-02 Den Haag Netherlands 4-1 World Cup Qualifier 34 9 4- 9-03 Burnley Australia 1-0 35 9 11- 9-03 Darmstadt Germany 0-4 36 9 21-10-03 Moscow Russia 2-2 37 9 13-11-03 Preston Scotland 5-0 38 1 10 19- 2-04 Portsmouth Denmark 2-0 39 10 22- 4-04 Reading Nigeria 0-3 40 10 14- 5-04 Peterborough Iceland 1-0 41 10 6- 5-05 Barnsley Norway 1-0 42 1 11 26- 5-05 Walsall Czech Republic 4-1 43 11 5- 6-05 Manchester Finland 3-2 European Championship 44 11 8- 6-05 Blackburn Denmark 1-2 European Championship 45 11 11- 6-05 Blackburn Sweden 0-1 European Championship 46 1 12 1- 9-05 Amstetten Austria 4-1 World Cup Qualifier 47 3 15 27-10-05 Tapolca Hungary 13-0 World Cup Qualifier 48 15 17-11-05 Zwolle Netherlands 1-0 World Cup Qualifier 49 15 9- 2-06 Achna Sweden 1-1 50 15 9- 3-06 Norwich Iceland 1-0 51 15 26- 3-06 Blackburn France 0-0 World Cup Qualifier 52 15 20- 4-06 Gillingham Austria 4-0 World Cup Qualifier 53 3 18 31- 8-06 London Netherlands 4-0 World Cup Qualifier 54 18 30-09-06 Rennes France 1-1 World Cup Qualifier 55 18 25-10-06 Aalen Germany 1-5 56 18 26- 1-07 Guangdong China 0-2 57 18 28- 1-07 Guangdong United States 1-1 58 18 30- 1-07 Guangdong Germany 0-0 59 1 19 8- 3-07 Milton Keynes Russia 6-0 60 19 11- 3-07 Wycombe Scotland 1-0 61 19 14- 3-07 Swindon Netherlands 0-1 62 1 20 13- 5-07 Gillingham N Ireland 4-0 European Champ. Qual. 63 1 21 17- 5-07 Southend Iceland 4-0 64 2 23 11- 9-07 Shanghai Japan 2-2 World Cup 65 23 14- 9-07 Shanghai Germany 0-0 World Cup 66 2 25 17- 9-07 Chengdu Argentina 6-1 World Cup 67 25 20- 9-07 Tianjin United States 0-3 World Cup 68 1 26 27-10-07 Walsall Belarus 4-0 European Champ. Qual. 69 26 25-11-07 Shrewsbury Spain 1-0 European Champ. Qual. 70 26 12- 2-08 Achna Sweden 0-2 71 1 27 14- 2-08 Larnaca Norway 2-1 72 27 6- 3-08 Lurgan N Ireland 2-0 European Champ. Qual. 73 27 8- 5-08 Minsk Belarus 6-1 European Champ. Qual. 74 27 17- 7-08 Unterhaching Germany 0-3 75 2 29 28- 9-08 Prague Czech Republic 5-1 European Champ. Qual. 76 1 30 7-10-08 Zamora Spain 2-2 European Champ. Qual. 77 1 31 9- 2-09 Larnaca Finland 2-2 78 1 32 11- 2-09 Larnaca Finland 4-1 79 1 33 5- 3-09 Larnaca South Africa 6-0 80 33 7- 3-09 Larnaca France 2-2 81 1 34 12- 3-09 Nicosia Canada 3-1 82 34 23- 4-09 Shrewsbury Norway 3-0 83 34 25- 8-09 Lahti Italy 1-2 European Championship 84 1 35 28- 8-09 Helsinki Russia 3-2 European Championship 85 35 31- 8-09 Turku Sweden 1-1 European Championship 86 35 3- 9-09 Turku Finland 3-2 European Championship 87 1 36 6- 9-09 Tampere Netherlands 2-1 aet European Championship 88 1 37 10- 9-09 Helsinki Germany 2-6 European Championship 89 37 1- 3-10 Nicosia Switzerland 2-2 90 37 3- 3-10 Nicosia Italy 3-2 91 37 1- 4-10 London Spain 1-0 World Cup Qualifier 92 1 38 20- 5-10 Ta' Qali Malta 6-0 World Cup Qualifier 93 38 19- 6-10 Aranda de Duero Spain 2-2 World Cup Qualifier 94 2 40 21- 8-10 Krems Austria 4-0 World Cup Qualifier 95 1 41 12- 9-10 Shrewsbury Switzerland 2-0 World Cup Qualifier 96 1 42 16- 9-10 Wohlen Switzerland 3-2 World Cup Qualifier 97 42 19-10-10 Suwon South Korea 0-0 98 42 21-10-10 Suwon New Zealand 0-0 99 1 43 2- 3-11 Larnaca Italy 2-0 100 43 7- 3-11 Nicosia Canada 0-2 101 43 9- 3-11 Larnaca South Korea 2-0 102 43 2- 4-11 London United States 2-1 103 43 17- 5-11 Oxford Sweden 2-0 104 43 27- 6-11 Wolfsburg Mexico 1-1 World Cup 105 43 1- 7-11 Dresden New Zealand 2-1 World Cup 106 43 5- 7-11 Augsburg Japan 2-0 World Cup 107 43 9- 7-11 Leverkusen France 1-1 [a] World Cup 108 43 23-11-11 Doncaster Serbia 2-0 European Champ. Qual. 109 2 45 28- 2-12 Larnaca Finland 3-1 110 45 4- 3-12 Larnaca France 0-3 111 45 6- 3-13 Lanarca Italy 4-2 112 1 46 8- 3-13 Lanarca Scotland 4-4 113 46 15- 7-13 Linkoping Russia 1-1 European Championship 114 46 18- 7-13 Linkoping France 0-3 European Championship 115 46 12- 3-14 Nicosia France 0-2 116 46 8- 5-14 Shrewsbury Ukraine 4-0 World Cup Qualifier Note: [a] England lost 3-4 on penalties Total Record Matches Won Draw Lost For-Against Points Percentage 116 57 25 34 232-161 139 59.91 46 Goals in 116 Matches (% 0.40 per match) Types of Matches and Goals Friendlies 51 13 World Cup 8 4 World Cup Qualifier 22 15 European Championship 14 3 European Champ. Qual. 21 11 Total goals: 116 46
Born: 29-10-1978 in Watford Country: Great Britain Caps: 4 (W3-D1-L0- GF5-GA0 - %87.50) Goals: 0 (% 0.00 per match) Age First Cap: 33 yr 264 d 20-7-2012 vs. Sweden 0-0 Age Last Cap: 33 yr 275 d 31-7-2012 vs. Brazil 1-0 National Team Career: 0 yr 11 d
Cap Goals Date Venue Opponent Score Competition 1 20- 7-12 Middlesbrough Sweden 0-0 2 25- 7-12 Cardiff New Zealand 1-0 Olympic Games 3 28- 7-12 Cardiff Cameroon 3-0 Olympic Games 4 31- 7-12 London Brazil 1-0 Olympic Games Total Record Matches Won Draw Lost For-Against Points Percentage 4 3 1 0 5-0 7 87.50 0 Goals in 4 Matches (% 0.00 per match) Types of Matches and Goals Friendlies 1 0 Olympic Games 3 0 Total goals: 4 0
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
11. Pia Sundhage
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.
Sue Buckett: England’s original goalkeeper
Born: c.1946, Portsmouth
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)…
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.
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.