Mundialito Femminile ’84 – The Little World Cup

Martin Reagan’s beaten Euro 84 finalists square off against Belgium, West Germany and Italy in Jesolo and Caorle

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In the days before the FIFA Women’s World Cup there was the Mundialito…

An invitational tourney along the lines of the latter day Cyprus or Algarve Cups, it was a much bigger deal than these annual seaside jollies: pulling in both bumper crowds and RAI TV coverage.

In summer 1984 football-daft Italians were beside themselves with glee, having carried off the 1982 World Cup and then sealed the 1990 hosting gig in May 1984. Their semi-autonomous women’s football federation (FIGCF) teamed up with the national Olympic committee (CONI) for this joint venture. As well as the national broadcaster and local authority, backing arrived from sportswear company Diadora and La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper. All the participating teams’ costs were covered in full – music to the ears of England’s hard up WFA.

CONI’s interest was down to their suspicion that Olympic medals might be afoot – bringing an attendant funding bonanza. They were lobbying hard for Olympic women’s soccer and fancied their chances if it happened. At this stage the United States had no team (they debuted at the following year’s Mundialito) while newbies West Germany had only started their own programme 20 months earlier.

Jesolo was awarded city status in 1984, for services to local tourism. Big in the 70s, its 15 miles of sandy beach was a hot destination for new-fangled package holiday tours. Later on it repositioned itself as a bit classier and more expensive, probably to dodge the sad fate of Benidorm: hordes of braying louts in Union Jack shorts and diced carrots in its gutters.

Jesolo’s stadium was named for Armando Picchi, the great Inter Milan and Italy sweeper. Temporary stands brought the capacity up to a reported 6–8,000. The smaller stadium up the road in Caorle bore the name of Giovanni Chiggiato, a local landowner and worthy from the early part of the century. Matches were apparently played in the cooler evenings at 9.15pm and were 40 minutes each-way.

Results:

Group stage:

Date Venue Team 1 Score Team 2 Scorers
19 August Stadio Giovanni Chiggiato, Caorle Italy 1–2 West Germany ITA: Carolina Morace
FRG: Petra Bartelmann, Rosi Eichenlaub
20 August Stadio Armando Picchi, Jesolo England 1–1 Belgium ENG: Linda Curl
BEL: Carla Martens
21 August Stadio Giovanni Chiggiato, Caorle Italy 4–0 Belgium ITA: Carolina Morace, Betty Vignotto, Rose Reilly, Betty Secci
22 August Stadio Armando Picchi, Jesolo West Germany 2–0 England FRG: Silvia Neid (2)
23 August Stadio Giovanni Chiggiato, Caorle Belgium 2–0 West Germany BEL: TBC1
24 August Stadio Armando Picchi, Jesolo Italy 1–1 England ITA: Carolina Morace
ENG: Linda Curl

Third place play-off:

Date Venue Team 1 Score Team 2 Scorers
25 August Stadio Giovanni Chiggiato, Caorle England 2–1 Belgium ENG: Marieanne Spacey, Linda Curl
BEL: TBC (pen)

Final:

Date Venue Team 1 Score Team 2 Scorers
26 August Stadio Armando Picchi, Jesolo Italy 3–1 West Germany ITA: Carolina Morace, Rose Reilly, Betty Vignotto (pen)
GER: Anne Kreuzberg

Hors concours:

Date Venue Team 1 Score Team 2 Scorers
27 August Monfalcone Italy 1–3 England ITA: TBC
ENG: Angie Gallimore, Hope Powell, Pat Chapman

Stadio Armando Picchi:

Some public domain snaps of the stadium in Jesolo, taken in September 2015.

Team notes:

England

Since their gutsy defeat by Sweden in the Euro 84 final shootout, England had lost three loyal campaigners to international retirement. Irish-born goalkeeper Terry Irvine, left-back Maggie Pearce (née Kirkland) and original skipper Sheila Parker (née Porter) were all footballing mums. They went out with heads held high.

Martin Reagan was also without fleet-footed Euro 84 revelation Kerry Davis and midfield terrier Gillian Coultard, who was away on holiday. That gave an opportunity to some fresh blood, including teenaged future-greats Marieanne Spacey (18, Friends of Fulham) and Jo Broadhurst (16, Sheffield).

There were also debut caps for defenders Sallie Jackson (Howbury Grange) and Jackie Slack (Norwich). Slack had skippered Lowestoft to the 1982 WFA Cup. Cup specialist Jackson played alongside Slack in that game and repeated the feat in May 1984 with Howbury Grange.

A few of England’s players had been involved in a six-a-side curtain-raiser to an Everton v Liverpool Charity Shield clash at Wembley, staged the day before the Mundialito started. The bizarre knockabout pitted WFA Cup winners Howbury Grange against national 5-a-side champs Millwall Lionesses. St Helens and a Mersey/Wirral select were also roped in, a sop to the 100,000 scousers in attendance.

The Wembley exertions might explain the sluggish start from England, who fell behind in their opening match when Belgium’s Carla Martens ruthlessly capitalised on new girl Jackie Slack’s error.

Linda Curl brought England level after running onto a Brenda Sempare pass. It was the best possible tonic for Curl, who laid to rest the ghost of her Kenilworth Road penalty miss at the earliest opportunity.

England’s next match was an inauspicious 2–0 reverse at the hands of slick upstarts West Germany. Midfielder Silvia Neid, later named Player of the Tournament, put England to the sword with two well taken goals.

It was to be 31 long years, before Fara Williams’ 2015 World Cup penalty finally ended England’s German hoodoo. Neid, by then the unified Germany manager, was rendered incredulous by her team’s extra-time defeat and failure to land a bronze medal.

In the final group match against the Italian hosts, Linda Curl put England ahead in torrential rain. Morace hit back as the teams ground out an entertaining 1–1 draw in Jesolo. According to the WFA’s one-person media operation, the incomparable Cathy Gibb, Hope Powell “won the Italian crowd over with astounding delicate skills”.

The third place play-off saw another meeting with the underrated Belgians. Spacey lashed England ahead, but profligate finishing proved costly when Jackson’s handball conceded a penalty which pegged it back to 1–1.

Jackson made amends by hitting a long pass to Curl, who expertly rounded Belgian custodian Annie Noë and knocked in her third goal of the tournament to win the match for England.

There was more to come as a hastily-arranged bounce game against an understrength Italian team took place the day after the final. This was just up the coast in Monfalcone, near the border with what was then Yugoslavia.

Some sources describe the opposition as an Italian “B team”, but England’s 3–1 win was notable for Jo Broadhurst’s first Lionesses appearance and Hope Powell’s first international goal. It is also thought that Sue Buckett filled in for Terry Wiseman, marking an emotional farewell between the sticks for the Southampton legend.

It its coverage of the tournament, local broadsheet La Stampa said of the English squad:

“They train running barefoot on the beach, eat in joy, stuff themselves with sweets, seem to appreciate the good Italian wine: for them this “Mundialito” is almost a holiday.”

The same article cited “Patricia Curry” and “Andrienne Powel” as England’s best players – apparently garbled compounds of Hope Powell, Marieanne Spacey, Linda Curl (?) and Pat Chapman.

Andrienne Powel was described as a professional ballerina and coach Martin Reagan as a former Liverpool player.2 Either the hack responsible was the victim of a wind-up, or they were no stranger to appreciation of the good wine themselves!

Italy

Italy had hosted previous tournaments under the auspices of rebel women’s football governing body FIEFF, which had long since been stamped out by peevish rivals UEFA and FIFA.

Mundialito organisers tenuously claimed their lineage from the 1981 International Ladies Football Festival in Japan. Even more tenuously they claimed that Italy were defending a title won at the curious, unfinished Japanese tournament.

Inevitably, the wily Italians had a couple of trump cards up their sleeves. The first was Rose Reilly. A deadly cocktail of pace and power, Reilly was already box office dynamite in Italy’s Serie A. So much so that the Italians were trying to marry the charismatic Kiki Dee look-alike into Italian citizenry.

In November 1972, aged 17, she had starred in Scotland’s first ever international fixture, against England at a frost-bitten Ravenscraig Stadium in Greenock. In the first-half Reilly scored direct from a corner to put the Scots 2–0 ahead, only for the team to somehow snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in time-honoured Scottish style.

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Reilly gives her verdict to Italian TV

The Scots made a big play of getting Reilly back in the fold for the winner-take-all Euro qualifier with England at Dumbarton in October 1982. British Caledonian were lined up to jet her in, but her employers at Alaska Lecce (named for their ice cream company backers) had other ideas. Kerry Davis bagged four unanswered goals in England’s romp at the ramshackle Boghead Park ground.

Reilly gave the marriage offers a swerve, but did become an honorary Italian footballer: forming a formidable front three with Carolina Morace and Betty Vignotto.

The Italians’ second trump card was the home officials, who presided over what Cathy Gibb called: “refereeing at its worst”. They waved through three offside goals as Italy drubbed Belgium 4–0, recovering from their shock 2–1 opening day defeat by West Germany.

This set the tone for what was to follow. Some 32 years later at a Mundialito-type event in America, preposterously entitled the SheBelieves Cup, the refereeing was equally diabolical. Although this time it was female referees. And the public no longer had to take Gibb’s word for it, since live BBC television coverage beamed it into the nation’s living rooms.

In 1984 relations between the Italian Women’s FA (FIGCF) and the Italian [male] FA (FIGC) were strained. A telegramme from the Chinese FA inviting the women’s team to a Xi’an tournament in October had not been passed on. Seething, the FIGCF were left pondering whether apathy or spite had underpinned the snub.

The team did get to China but were handed a humiliating 3–2 semi-final defeat by Dallas Sting, a youth club who had been cleared by the USSF to play as the United States. Among the Sting players, mostly high school girls, was Carla Werden (Overbeck) who went on to become a “99er”, an Olympic gold medallist and a full-time professional with the Carolina Courage.

Notes:


1. Women’s Football Archive contacted the Belgian FA (KBVB) to tell them they had this score the wrong way about on their website. But to date they have not replied or fixed their error. Inevitably, the German FA’s “statistik center” is correct!

2. Reagan never played for Liverpool, England’s most successful male club. Although he did play against them three times, twice with Middlesbrough and once with Portsmouth.

What they did next: Millwall Lionesses 1991 Women’s FA Cup winners

Spotlight on Millwall Lionesses 1991 – Women’s FA Cup winners

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In an iconic final, Millwall Lionesses’ class of ’91 beat Doncaster Belles, the holders, 1–0 at Prenton Park to lift their first Women’s FA Cup. In the Greater London League they saw off Friends of Fulham and Arsenal to qualify for the first ever National League in 1991–92. With cult status assured, the team famously imploded and went their separate ways. Now the Women’s Football Archive opens the vault and looks back at the Lionesses squad from that memorable season.

 


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Lesley Shipp (later Higgs) Goalkeeper who joined the Lionesses from Milton Keynes in 1988. A 25-year-old shop assistant in 1991. Had specialist goalie coaching from Aldershot stopper David Coles in the days when this was unusual. Won her first England cap in 1990 under Martin Reagan and quit the national team after playing at the 1995 Women’s World Cup. Moved on to Arsenal and then Wembley in 1994. Had the game of her life in Arsenal’s 1993 Cup final win, then kept goal for Wembley against Millwall in the 1997 Cup final.


Maria Luckhurst Attacking full-back with a fierce shot. In 1991 was a 20-year-old bank clerk recently capped by England under-21s. A youth team product who joined Millwall at 11 after being kicked out of boy’s football. Now a high-powered investment banker with BlackRock.


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Lou Waller (later Newstead) Joined her girlhood club at 12 and went on to become manager and chairman in a distinguished Lionesses career. Installed as England’s regular left-back after her 1989 debut, but took on a more pivotal role for her club. Enhanced her Millwall credentials by being the first England player ever to be sent-off, against Italy in 1992. Bizarrely taken to the 1995 World Cup while injured and not fit enough to play. A keen student of the game, she spent two off-seasons playing for HJK Helsinki in Finland and coached the Lionesses’ pioneering youth teams. Hit the only goal in the 1997 Cup final win over Wembley. Twenty-years-old in 1991, she later went on the men’s club payroll as part of their community department.


Tina Mapes A sweeper or holding midfielder of rare composure, Mapes won the Lionesses’ Player of the Year in 1989–90, her first season with the club. She captained England under-21s and won her first senior cap in the dog days of the WFA regime. Moved to Wimbledon Ladies after the Cup final but took up a contract offer from Swedish second tier club Lindsdals in spring 1992. She quit Sweden for Croydon to win back her England place and went to the ’95 World Cup where she filled in at full-back. The trophies kept coming in two spells with Croydon and a stint with Arsenal. Also a useful goalkeeper, Mapes is currently one of 25 A-licensed female coaches in England. She was 20 in 1991 and working for a building company.


Sue Law The Lionesses’ Miss reliable who rarely had a bad game since joining from C&C Sports (Brighton) in 1987. Won most of her caps for England (1985–1992) at right-back but played all along Millwall’s backline. She was a 24-year-old development officer and would commute from Eastbourne to play and train with the Lionesses. A succession of back and shoulder injuries disrupted her career, especially after she left to form Bromley Borough in 1991. The cerebral Law currently serves as the FA’s head of equality. Has an incredibly-hard-to-Google name!


Keeley Salvage Committed no-frills centre-half who revelled in her club nickname of ‘Well Hard’. A 20-year-old bookie’s assistant, she honed her crunching tackle in the Lionesses’ youth ranks after joining aged 12. Was on the fringes of England’s under-21 team and had a short spell with Arsenal in 1993–94 before coming home to Millwall and skippering the side. Died tragically young from cancer in 2013.


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Hope Powell Entered the 1991 final as the Lionesses record goalscorer, boasting an incredible 1.25 goals-per-game average in over 200 appearances since joining from school aged 11. She turned 24 that season but was already hit by the knee trouble which slowed her down in her last years as a player. She was recently back from a two-year sojourn with Friends of Fulham, having scored twice in their 1989 Cup final defeat – an individual performance which went down in women’s football lore. Best known as England’s long-serving disciplinarian coach from 1998 to 2013, Powell was always too modest in recalling her own capabilities as a player. Those who played with and against her attest to peerless skill and vision, setting her apart as arguably England’s finest ever female player.


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Debbie Bampton All-action midfielder Bampton was gunning for her third Cup winner’s medal after driving Lowestoft and Howbury Grange to glory in 1982 and 1984. She was 29 and a chauffeur in the City of London. In 1987–88 she played and lost the Italian Cup final with Trani. Bampton’s 19-year England career (1978–1997) stands as an incredible achievement. Adjusted for games played, her 95 caps must be worth around 200 in today’s money. A tireless midfield workhorse but much more than a water-carrier, she habitually scored crucial goals. Left for a season with Wimbledon after the 1991 final, then won a treble with Arsenal in 1992–93. Was player-boss of Croydon from 1994 until 2000.


Maureen Jacobson Kiwi international, 29, who put her career as an accountant on hold to add goals and quality to Millwall’s midfield. She covered every blade of grass and shot from all angles, plundering 67 goals in the Lionesses’ 1989–90 season. ‘Mo’ Overcame injury to play in the 1991 final and went to the historic 1991 Women’s World Cup in China that November with New Zealand. Recently (2012) inducted into Wellington’s Soccer Hall of Fame.


Raeltine Shrieves The club’s reserves captain, who made inroads into the first team ahead of the final. A graduate of Bangor University in Wales, she was 24-years-old and working in financial services. Proud of her Irish roots she dreamed of one day pulling on the famous green shirt. The call never came in football but Shrieves got in on the ground floor when the Irish put together a women’s rugby team a few years later. In the oval ball game she turned out for London Wasps and Richmond as a scrum half. Sister (?) Yvette Shrieves was also a Lionesses stalwart, who spent two seasons as a pro in Italy with Juve Siderno.


Yvonne Baldeo A speedy winger who rejoined Millwall after a spell in Serie A with ACF Milan. Twenty-nine and director of her own sports equipment company, Baldeo famously hit the winning goal in the 1991 final at Prenton Park. A thorn in the side of Doncaster Belles, she had bagged a brace in Howbury Grange’s 4–2 final win over ‘Donny’ in the 1984 final. In September 1993 Baldeo, who had moved on to Wembley, was named on standby for the first ever England squad to be selected by the FA.


Karen Farley (later Farley-Livermore) Big striker on the way back from injury after signing the previous summer from Maidstone Tigresses. A 20-year-old admin assistant, she played for England under-21s and began her career with Ashford Town. Moved on to Sweden after the final and settled in Scandinavia, mastering the lingo and working in the UK embassy while playing for Stockholm giants Hammarby, under player-boss Pia Sundhage. A brilliant header of the ball, Farley’s prolific but inexplicably short England career included the 1995 Women’s World Cup.


Jane Bartley The Lionesses’ record appearance holder, Londoner Bartley had turned out for the club more than 300 times by 1991. She also had some 200 goals, despite a serious knee injury keeping her out for two years from 1987. Joined Millwall at 11 when she and Hope Powell were booted out of their school team, despite the protestations of the male coach. A tall and graceful forward, she played international football for Wales in the days before the FAW took an interest. Was 24 and working in financial services.


Lynne McCormick Bustling pint-sized striker whose searing pace and unerring shot caught defenders off guard. A 22-year-old training officer, ‘Micky’ joined Millwall in 1987 from C&C Sports (Brighton) and had clocked up over 150 goals by 1991.


Anita Dines A blue collar grafter whose willingness and discipline gave a platform for more gifted team mates to flourish. Versatile enough to play at full-back or up front and seemingly a much better player than she gave herself credit for. Signed from Maidstone Tigresses in 1988, Dines’s whole-hearted displays made her a cult figure with the fans and hugely popular in the dressing room. She later hoisted more silverware with Croydon. A hopeless football addict, she was still thundering about for Tower Hamlets Ladies in 2007.


Julie Fletcher Schoolgirl left-back elevated to the first team after just a year with the thirds. She had signed from Elms FC of Catford and was the youngest member of the 1991 squad at 16 years of age. Remained loyal to Millwall and spent a decade at the club, before moving on to Croydon and Arsenal. A county standard cross country runner who later worked as a lifeguard. Made her England debut in 1995.

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Match: England 0–2 Sweden, 23 May 1989, Wembley

Wembley Stadium 23 May 1989 – England 0–2 Sweden

Old foes Sweden put one over on England AGAIN

Classic match report: The story of England women’s first football match at Wembley Stadium

Two women footballers challenge for the ball in the bottom right of the picture

In May 1989 England lost their first full match at Wembley Stadium to goals from Swedish greats Pia Sundhage (6) and Lena Videkull (58). The pesky Swedes had previously handed England their first ever defeat in 1975, beat them on penalties in the inaugural 1984 Euro Championship final and edged them out of the 1987 Euro semi-final 3–2 after extra-time.

Background


This match marked the 20th anniversary of the Women’s Football Association (WFA) and was played as a curtain-raiser to the men’s Rous Cup game with Chile. It was the last edition of the Stanley Rous Cup, which had been mired in farce throughout its short history. Stanley Rous was an English former president of FIFA who hated women’s football and was eventually jettisoned for his sickening pro-Apartheid stance.

Three days earlier over 80,000 Scousers had descended on Wembley for the men’s FA Cup final. For the Tuesday night match with Chile, a record low of 15,628 turned out. Those who surmounted a tube strike to get there were subjected to what The Times called a “derisory joke” of a match. England’s understrength men drew 0–0 with Chile, who were only there because numerous other nations had snubbed the invite. An out-of-his-depth John Fashanu delivering a trademark elbow-smash to a hapless Chilean defender was the nadir of a truly grim spectacle.

The Swedish FA gave an attendance figure of 3,150 for the preceding women’s match, which made for an eery atmosphere at the famous old venue. The women, though, served up much more entertaining fayre than their male counterparts. In warm sunshine beneath the twin towers, Sweden’s tough and experienced team, well drilled by pioneering female boss Gunilla Paijkull, soaked up English pressure and twice picked-off their opponents on the break.

Match


ENGLAND
1. Theresa Wiseman
2. Joanne Broadhurst
3. Janice Murray
4. Debbie Bampton (c)
5. Jackie Sherrard
6. Gillian Coultard
7. Hope Powell
8. Brenda Sempare
9. Marieanne Spacey
10.Kerry Davis
11.Jane Stanley

Substitutes:
12.Linda Curl
14.Karen Walker
15.Maria Harper
17.Tracey Davidson

Coach:
Martin Reagan

SVERIGE
Elisabeth Leidinge .1
Camilla Fors .2
Marie Karlsson .3
Anette Hansson .4
Eva Zeikfalvy .5
Åsa Persson .6
(c) Ingrid Johansson .7
Helén Johansson .8
Pia Sundhage .9
Ulrika Kalte.10
Lena Videkull.11

Substitutes:
(n/u) Marina Persson.12
Pia Syrén.13
Camilla Andersson.14
Eleonor Hultin.15
Malin Swedberg.16

Coach:
Gunilla Paijkull

England’s defence had a makeshift look. Regular right-back Sue Law of Millwall Lionesses was still recovering from a shoulder operation. Solent’s Clare Lambert and Town & County’s Jackie Slack were named in the team published in the morning papers, but neither made the starting line-up. Instead Donny Belles’ Jo Broadhurst and Leasowe’s Jan Murray—both happier playing further forward—were drafted in as wing-backs. It was ‘Psycho’ Murray’s international debut.

Kerry Davis of Napoli and Jane Stanley of Filey led the line, with Linda Curl (Norwich) and Karen Walker (Donny Belles) later emerging from the bench. Leasowe midfielder Maz Harper and second-choice keeper Tracey Davidson, of Donny Belles, were also given substitute outings on Wembley’s hallowed turf.

Ballwinners Gillian Coultard, Jackie Sherrard (both Donny Belles) and captain Debbie Bampton (Millwall Lionesses) were tasked with keeping Sweden out. Friends of Fulham trio Marieanne Spacey, Brenda Sempare and Hope Powell provided the creative flair. At the time Sempare’s skill, vision and positional sense marked her out as one of Europe’s best midfielders. Spacey had jetted back from her loan spell at Finland’s HJK Helsinki to participate.

Goalie Terry Wiseman of Friends of Fulham won her 50th cap. She was beaten after only six minutes when Pia Sundhage scored with a looping header, just as she had in the 1984 final first-leg in Gothenburg.

The report by Times correspondent Andrew Longmore describes England’s “extraordinary profligacy in front of goal”. This was duly punished when deadly striker Lena Videkull lashed in a cross from Helén Johansson on 58 minutes. Helén’s twin sister Ingrid was the Swedish skipper.

Legacy


Sue Lopez wrote in her book (1997) that the shambolic staging of this match enraged the Swedish FA and UEFA bigwig Lennart Johansson. Their complaints apparently shamed the FA in influencial circles and hastened the demise of the WFA. Lopez did not reveal what in particular about the WFA’s shoestring operation had riled the famously placid Scandinavians.

After getting humiliating public knock-backs from Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico, Spain and a host of other names, the increasingly desperate English and Scottish FAs needed someone, anyone, to attend their flagging Rous tournament. It is easy to imagine they seriously greased the palms of the Chileans to save further embarrassment. No doubt the Chilean delegation got put up in a top hotel, given fat cigars, suitcases full of cash and fur coats for their wives. Meanwhile the Swedish FA mandarins over for the women’s fixture—still fully-fledged members of a fellow FIFA association—were curtly pointed in the direction of the WFA. If they were lucky, they might have got a couple of soggy sandwiches and some supermarket own-brand crisps!

The Swedish men’s team were in the same qualification group as England for the men’s World Cup and had been at Wembley the previous October, for another 0–0 bore draw. On that occasion it was the Swedish hangers-on who got the red carpet treatment, which probably brought the no-frills setup at this women’s match into sharp relief.

Sweden had finished runners-up to Norway in a prototype World Cup held eleven months earlier. The bulk of their Wembley team went on to compete at the first FIFA-sanctioned World Cup in China ’91, where they finished third.

England had pluckily won the 1988 Mundialito tournament in Italy. But they did not even qualify for China after being badly mauled 6–1 by West Germany in Euro 1991. With England in serious decline compared to other countries who were getting proper support from their national association, veteran coach Martin Reagan was harshly sacked after the Germany result. Reagan had spent several years telling everyone exactly what modest work needed to be done in order to keep up. Sadly those with the clout to make it happen did not lift a finger.

The England team did not evolve, partly because the stony-broke WFA shut down their under-21 team. Until 1991 there was no national league. Doncaster Belles, who supplied five of the 15 at Wembley, routinely walloped local opposition and were only tested in the later rounds of the national cup. Belles and England netminder Tracey Davidson would spend entire league games walking a dog behind the goal and drinking cups of cocoa to keep her hands warm.

The FA finally put the WFA out of its misery and took over direct control of women’s football in 1993. After many more wasted years, it was not until Hope Powell—England’s midfield schemer in this match—took the reins as coach that some painfully slow, incremental progress began to be made.

And finally…


This match is recorded as England’s first FULL match at Wembley because of another debacle… 1987–88 saw the Football League arrange its centenary celebrations, which for some reason were overseen by colourful Chelsea chairman Ken Bates. Mercantile Credit were roped in as sponsors but pitiful attendances saw the League clubs absorbing huge losses. The WFA lined up Holland for a friendly as part of the main event at Wembley. The Dutch FA (KNVB), when informed at late notice that their slot was only 15 minutes each-way, were fuming and wanted no part of such nonsense. Ireland, who like England lacked the support of their national FA, had no such scruples and the mini game went ahead.