An ‘Original’ writes

England ‘keeper Sue Whyatt: Forget me not!

1972 England goalkeeper Sue Whyatt recently got in touch with Women’s Football Archive:

Hi I am Sue Whyatt, I played goalkeeper for Macclesfield Ladies and alongside Janet Bagueley also from Maccs team. I also played for England. I was on the first England squad in 1972 and won 1 cap playing against Scotland. I was the reserve goalie. I seem to have been missed out of all the history of England Ladies. I still have my cap and a scrap book though I can’t find my picture of us at Wembley when we were issued with bags and boots, all of which we had to give back !!

That’s Sue on the right, leaning over to share a joke with Macclesfield pal Bagguley. Both sport the controversial barely there knicker-shorts issued to the squad, while a trendy platform shoe lies discarded by Sue’s foot.

Beside her, footballing ex-nun Paddy McGroarty beams as she rips open her on-loan Mitres. The late Sylvia Gore is in the corner, beside the obligatory tea urn. Young Maggie Kirkland (later Pearce) sits behind Bagguley on the floor.

Thanks for getting in touch Sue – it’s always an honour to hear from players who played their part in making the game we all love into what it is today.

Players: Sue Hayden

Irish goalkeeping great Sue Hayden

Sue Hayden 1987

Born: 8 July 1962

Position: Goalkeeper / Defender

Debut: v. England (1985)

Occupation: Computer operator (1987), Security printer (1994)

Susan Mary Hayden made her Republic of Ireland debut against England in Euro 1987 qualifying and remained in the squad until the 1999 World Cup campaign. An inspirational presence in the Irish goal, she went on to join Jennings, Bonner and Kelly in the pantheon of all-time greats. Quite simply, she ranks as one of Ireland’s best-ever goalkeepers.

 

Remarkably, many of Hayden’s early Ireland caps were won as a cultured full-back. That was because The Girls in Green had another brilliant young keeper in the shape of Sue Kelly from Cork Celtic.

On the club circuit, Hayden was a regular face in Ireland’s patchwork regionalised setup. She spent the summer months with Rathfarnham United in the Leinster League, then turned out for Greystones in the winter Wicklow League.

The impression is of a hopeless football junkie: “have boots, will travel” and willing to play anywhere to get a game!

1990 saw Hayden acclaimed as Opel Player of the Year, as Rathfarnham swept all before them. A quadruple of league, LFAI Cup, Presidents Cup and Westport 5-a-side gave the club its annus mirabilis.

In Ireland’s topsy-turvy Euro 1993 qualifying campaign Hayden, now settled in goal, ran the full gamut of ecstasy to agony.

She backstopped Ireland’s incredible smash n’ grab in Spain – repelling attack after attack from stars including Itziar, Jose Maria Bakero’s footballing sister.

Olivia O’Toole’s deft free kick past future Arsenal goalie Roser Serra gave Ireland their greatest ever win. But nine months later in Borås, Hayden was between the sticks for a 10–0 humbling by Sweden.

Ireland’s plucky grafters had no answer to the bison strength and tall, muscular athleticism of the Super Swedes – bronze medalists at the previous year’s World Cup in China.

It was a black day for Irish football and a grave disappointment to all involved. The Football Association of Ireland, previously disdainful of women and girls, hoiked the team out of the 1995 Euros to avert further embarrassment.

A restoration project, mostly paid for by the lucrative World Cup exploits of Jack Charlton’s men, was rolled out under new coach Mick Cooke.

Ireland’s number 9 in that fateful match, who narrowly beat Hayden to the 1993 Opel Player of the Year, was Sue Ronan of the Welsox club. Ronan would one-day (2010) take overall charge of a totally revamped women’s football setup in the Republic.

In August 1994 Ireland hosted a USA XI at Richmond Park in Dublin. They were billed as a ‘USA B’ team, but were apparently an amateur select picked by the USASA organisation, not the American FA (USSF).

It marked the first appearance in Ireland’s senior squad of a gangly prospect from Kildare, Emma Byrne, who had turned 15 earlier that summer and was already a fixture in the FAI’s new under-16 team.

By then Moreen Celtic’s player-coach, 32-year-old Hayden had 29 caps and was the national squad’s senior player. The wise owl took Byrne under her wing. In some ways this mirrored the sorcerer–apprentice relationship between their male counterparts of the time, Donegal duo Packie Bonner and Shay Given.

Byrne’s stellar career with English club Arsenal brought an avalanche of silverware and extended into the FA WSL era. This meant decent press coverage and a level of professionalism, or near-professionalism, that Hayden’s generation could only dream of.

But Byrne never forgot Hayden’s kindness and rarely misses a chance to heap praise and gratitude on her former mentor.

It is said “One repays a teacher badly if one remains only a pupil”.1 During the Euro 1997 qualifiers Byrne stepped up to be Ireland’s first choice, with Hayden looking on proudly from the bench.

That was not the end, though. Far from it! Honourable patriot Hayden had returned to plug away with Rathfarnham United and humbly answered Ireland’s call during the 1999 World Cup qualifying campaign.

In 2002 evergreen Hayden and her ex-Ireland team mate Siobhán Furlong were drafted into Shamrock Rovers’ UEFA Women’s Cup squad. It was the first time any Irish club had made a sortie into the premier continental women’s competition.

At the mini-tournament in Niš, Rovers beat Croatians Osijek but lost to Serbian hosts Masinac and German cracks Frankfurt.

FACTFILE: Outfield GoaliesWomen’s Football Archive recently profiled Claire Lacey, who played in goal for England but often outfield for her clubs.

Pauline Cope herself was a sometime centre-half with Millwall Lionesses, where her whole-hearted efforts earned the sobriquet “Chopper”!

Liz Deighan called Cope up to the WFA’s England under-21 team as a goalie, while she was still playing outfield for her club.

Sue Buckett played her first games for Southampton outfield, before pulling on the gloves and becoming England’s original number 1.

Versatile Donny Belles legend Karen “Skiller” Skillcorn wore shirt numbers 1 to 11 during her career with the South Yorkshire giants. She played twice for England.

It seems that the goalkeeper position has not always enjoyed the specialized consideration it does in the women’s game of today.

Even in more recent times, Kay Hawke—a brilliant custodian worth far more than her measly one England cap—had to move to second tier Lincoln because her top flight club had no proper goalkeeper coaching.

 

1. Swiss upstart Carl Jung famously wielded this quote from Nietzsche’s Zarathustra in an impertinent letter to Austrian elder Sigmund Freud.

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?

Player: Sue Buckett

Sue Buckett: England’s original goalkeeper

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.