Match: Arsenal 2–1 Doncaster Belles, 28 March 1993, Highbury Stadium

Belles beaten as Arsenal move to brink of first title

Wheelchair-bound boxer Michael Watson on the Highbury turf, surrounded by chart-toppers Aswad

Classic match report: nouveau riche Gunners edge out Belles before record Highbury crowd

December’s bumper 3,256 crowd at Brighton’s AMEX Stadium left women’s soccer stattos scratching their noggins. Was it a record? Well yes… and no. It was a record for the newly-reconstituted WPL, but definitely not an English women’s league record. That particular honour went to this epochal Arsenal–Belles clash at Highbury, which topped 18,000 way back in 1993. Arsenal’s Wylie and Ball scored either side of Coultard’s equaliser. Although beaten Donny roared back with a league and cup double the following season, this match arguably cast the die for Arsenal’s unhealthy long-term suffocation of domestic competition…

Background


The match was staged as part of a benefit day for stricken boxer Michael Watson. Islington pugilist Watson had graced a golden era of British middleweights alongside sworn rivals Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank.

The fearless trio wrote their names in boxing lore by going at it hammer and tongs in their frequent TV bouts with each other. At White Hart Lane in September 1991 Watson was ahead of Eubank on the judges’ scorecards before being decked by a fateful uppercut at the end of the 11th round.

Incredibly the lone ringside doc was unequipped and the ambulance which trundled through the dispersing crowd initially took Watson to the wrong hospital. It was well beyond the ‘golden hour’ for treating head injuries when Watson finally arrived at St Bart’s.

Top surgeon Peter Hamlyn battled all night to save Watson’s life but he remained in a coma and brain damaged. A slow and gutsy partial recovery took place over the following years at the family home in Chingford, under the watchful eye of mum Joan.

The fund raiser scooped around £86,000 towards Watson’s rehabilitation and he later clobbered the boxing authorities with a £1million lawsuit for their breathtaking negligence.

Schedule


Admission to the “extravaganza” was a fiver, and it was pay on the gate. The day began at 12:30 with an 11-a-side celebrity match between Arsenal fans and a team of sportsmen put together by Daley Thompson.

The Arsenal supporters’ team played semi-regularly for charity and featured the likes of ‘Lofty’, from TV’s Eastenders. Prior to his injury Watson had turned out for the side.

The women took to the field at 13:30, followed by a musical interlude at 15:00 courtesy of reggae legends Aswad. Once the widespread bogle dancing had subsided, it was time for the main event: Ex-Arsenal XI v Ex-Tottenham XI at 15:30.

The veterans’ match appeared imbalanced with Spurs fielding a string of soccer wrinklies including 1961 double hero Cliff Jones. On the other hand Arsenal had some younger legs in alongside their own golden oldies like squeaky-voiced World Cup winner Alan Ball.

John Lukic, Chris Whyte and David Rocastle were all coming off a terrible season with Leeds United, while “Champagne” Charlie Nicholas was still playing for Celtic. He was 31 but inhabiting the body of a much older man.

The finale at 17:30 saw spirited Watson wheeled onto the pitch to meet his public. At 19:00 there was an invitation-only gala dinner in Highbury’s glitzy Mezzanine Suite.

Arsenal


For the previous decade, the best players in the south of England had been hopping around together from team to team – desperately trying to knock Doncaster Belles off their perch.

Usually constellated around Debbie Bampton, these teams would battle the Belles in the WFA Cup before the formation of the inaugural National League in 1991.

On the cusp of the FA takeover of women’s football in 1993, Bampton’s Arsenal were the latest pretenders to Donny’s crown and perhaps the most dangerous, given their comparatively vast resources.

ARSENAL
1. Lesley Shipp
2. Kirsty Pealling
3. Michelle Curley
4. Vicki Slee
5. Gill Wylie
6. Sharon Barber
7. Sian Williams
8. Debbie Bampton
9. Jo Churchman (out 80)
10.Chris Couling
11.Naz Ball

Substitutes:
12.Sarah Mulligan
14.Michelle Sneddon
15.Kelley Few
??.Debbie Smith (in 80)

Coach:
Vic Akers

After casting envious glances at Millwall’s groundbreaking girls’ youth academy, Arsenal had built one of their own, which soon hoovered up all the best kids. Some came from as far afield as Scotland – in the case of Michelle Sneddon.

This had already started to bear fruit for the first-team in the shape of cultured full-backs Curley and Pealling. An infusion of talent from local rivals supplemented the youngsters. North London foes Tottenham were ruthlessly denuded of star players Gill Wylie and Sharon Barber.

England keeper Shipp (later Higgs), midfield duo Bampton and Williams, sweeper Slee and frontrunner Churchman were all ex-Millwall Lionesses. As was full-back Maria Luckhurst, who began the season with Arsenal but was not getting much of a look in.

In the week leading up to the match Arsenal had nicked yet another Millwall player – Keeley Salvage – who was a no nonsense centre-half bearing the sobriquet “Well Hard”.

Arsenal had won the previous season’s League Cup, beating Millwall Lionesses in the final at Alt Park, Knowsley. But Doncaster Belles were not one of the 18 entrants when it was hastily convened in January 1992 – apparently as an afterthought.

Since being promoted from the 1991–92 National League Division One South, Arsenal had made a mockery of their 12–1 ante-post odds for the top title. In fairness, manager Vic Akers had built a truly formidable outfit.

Prolific strikers Naldra “Naz” Ball and Jo Churchman cut a swathe through the opposition, while a miserly defence shipped only 10 goals in 22 league and cup outings going into this game.

Akers’ team boasted a powerful spine in the shape of Gill Wylie the big Irish centre-half, Debbie Bampton and Welsh goal-machine Naz Ball. Each carried a potent aerial threat from set-pieces, at a time when heading was a sorely-underdeveloped skill in women’s soccer.

When Arsenal visited Doncaster’s Armthorpe Welfare FC Ground on 21 February 1993, a thumping 2–0 defeat brought an abrupt end to their season-long winning streak.

But just when it seemed that the Belles had slapped down the latest bunch of mouthy upstarts, as they had hundreds of times before, they came unstuck themselves in a shock 3–2 defeat at Wimbledon.

That meant Arsenal would require only a point from their last game at Red Star Southampton for the title: IF they could pull off their Belles revenge mission on this big day out at Highbury…

Doncaster Belles


Doncaster Belles were reigning double winners but entered the match beset by problems. Ex-Leicester City pro Paul Edmunds had returned to the managerial hot-seat, after Jo Broadhurst’s dad Brian (ex-Chesterfield) filled in the season before.

BELLES
1. Tracey Davidson
2. Julie Chipchase
3. Louise Ryde
4. Joy McQuiggan
5. Loraine Hunt (out 33)
6. Michelle Jackson
7. Mandy Lowe
8. Gillian Coultard
9. Karen Walker
10.Gail Borman
11.Jan Murray

Substitutes:
12.Lorraine Young
14.Sheila Edmunds
15.Ann Lisseman (in 33)

Coach:
Paul Edmunds

Edmunds was still without Karen “Skiller” Skillcorn as an ACL rupture sustained in Spring 1991 was misdiagnosed and then the repeatedly-delayed treatment botched. At the time, crocked players were at the mercy of the NHS waiting lists.

Similarly, key midfielder Jackie Sherrard had hurt her knee in England’s Euro defeat in Italy the previous November. She had tried to play through the pain but eventually got a diagnosis of cartilage trouble and had to go under the knife.

Matters reached a head on 14 March 1993 when the Belles sensationally crashed 3–2 at Wimbledon. Legend has it, their first league defeat in 15 years.

Playmaker Jo Broadhurst must have been feeling sheepish, having served the first of a three-match ban at Wimbledon. The team bounced back to thrash Stanton Rangers 8–0, but were staring down the barrel of two defeats in three games without their creative lynchpin.

Philosophically, the rivalry with Arsenal cast into relief a clash of cultures. Belles players and staff simply could not get their heads around Arsenal’s gamesmanship and the po-faced, win-at-all-costs mentality underpinning it.

In Pete Davies’s I Lost My Heart To The Belles (1996) Broadhurst recalled the aftermath of the match:

“Us Belles were all singing, messing around – we were disappointed obviously, but it’s a game, we’ll have another chance – and them, they were just stood there. If that had been us we’d have been out partying, we always stay together when we’ve won something – but them, they went home.”

Broadhurst may have revised her opinion, as by the time Davies’s book came out she had herself been tempted south by Arsenal – who dangled the carrot of a paid gig in the club shop. Reborn as a striker she promptly hit the goal trail and breathed new life into her England career.

Joy McQuiggan, who hit the WFA Cup final winner for Leasowe Pacific in 1989, was one of the players drafted in as cover. Aptly, she bore a boxing-related nickname: being dubbed “Barry” after near namesake Barry McGuigan.

Mandy “Flo” Lowe and Ann Lisseman – later a big cheese in the police – were also adjusting to the demands of Belle-hood, although both would prove their mettle in the following 1993–94 season.

Match


Disaster struck for Doncaster Belles when Gill Wylie gave Arsenal the lead after just five minutes. Then the bad luck continued when elegant centre-half Loraine Hunt tore her hamstring and had to be substituted after half an hour.

Undeterred, the depleted Belles kept scrapping and skipper Gill Coultard tore up the script by hooking in an equaliser on the stroke of half-time.

Just before the hour mark Naz Ball delighted organisers and the 18,196 crowd by scoring what proved to be the winner. Akers unleashed livewire youngster Debbie Smith (not among the substitutes listed in the programme) for the last 10 minutes.

When local ref Bill Saville blew his whistle for full-time it left the Belles needing snookers to retain their National League title.

Epistemology


David Mills’ interesting article in She Kicks recently highlighted the poor record keeping which continues to blight women’s football. Mills is RIGHT that older records are “sketchy”, but WRONG when he then suggests an arbitrary ‘year zero’ cut-off point. Sketchy records can – and must – be made unsketchy!

Having said that, this article only considers matches from the formation of the first National League in 1991. Barnstorming Dick, Kerr’s Ladies famously brought 53,000 to Goodison Park, with at least another 10,000 locked outside.

Baseball Ground, Derby 28 April 1990 – Doncaster Belles 1–0 Friends of Fulham

Gillian Coultard hits winner as Belles reclaim Cup

Classic match report: North beats South as Doncaster Belles avenge 1985 final defeat by Fulham

Twenty-five years ago Gillian Coultard’s 60th minute goal condemned Friends of Fulham to their second successive WFA Cup final defeat, before 3,000 fans at Derby’s Baseball Ground. It was the Belles’ fourth Cup win from their seventh appearance in the season’s showpiece. Resurgent Doncaster settled a score from their 1985 defeat by the Londoners and also made up for the previous year, when a shock quarter-final defeat by Leasowe Pacific had denied them their annual Cup final outing.

Channel 4 provided coverage of this, the competition’s 20th final, with an hour-long highlights programme screened at 5.30pm the following day.

The top-flight stadium in Derby was free because Derby County men were away at Man City that day. They won 1–0 thanks to a goal from Mark Wright, who was playing his way into Bobby Robson’s Italia ’90 squad.

Back at the Baseball Ground a crowd of 3,111 showed up for the women’s final. Not spectacular, but still three times more than the paltry turnout who rattled around inside Old Trafford at the previous season’s showpiece.

Although the Baseball Ground was notorious for the often shocking state of its pitch, this match took place on a warm, sunny day with conditions dry and hard underfoot.

Neither team were clad in their traditional colours. Doncaster Belles were in royal blue shirts with white shorts, while Friends of Fulham donned a fetching “yellow and emerald” affair.


Background

Doncaster Belles entered the final unbeaten for four seasons in their regional League. Friends of Fulham had won their sixth consecutive Home Counties League Cup two weeks before.

The teams had met in the 1985 final at Craven Cottage, when two goals in three first-half minutes from Cheryl McAdam and Cathy Hynes gave Friends of Fulham a 2–0 win to claim their first Cup. It was known as The Sempare Final after a virtuoso display by England midfielder Brenda.

Two years previously the Belles reached their first final only after a titanic semi-final with Friends of Fulham at Imber Court Metropolitan Police Ground. After Elaine Cozens had cancelled out Denise Pittock’s opener to bring Fulham level, Lorraine Hanson’s thumping header sent the Belles through.

These closely-fought previous meetings ensured that the teams approached their latest encounter with a healthy degree of mutual respect.


Road to Derby

En route to the final Friends of Fulham beat Arsenal Ladies 4–0 in the quarter-final at Enfield Town. Marieanne Spacey scored the opening goal against the Gunners, her future employers.

In the semi-final at Millwall’s Den, Friends of Fulham triumphed 3–0 over tough Lancastrian outfit Preston Rangers. Another goal from Spacey and a Brenda Sempare double did the damage. Women’s football writer and historian Gail Newsham was playing for Preston that day and still recalls with some pride her tackle on Spacey, or her “claim to fame”!

In the quarter-final, Doncaster Belles exacted crushing revenge on Cup holders Leasowe Pacific. The Merseysiders had the temerity to boot the Belles out at the same stage the previous year, but were swept aside 5–0 this time.

The semi-final game at Millwall produced an even more ruthless display, as a St Helens team in sad decline were beaten 7–0. Gail Borman and Jackie Sherrard scored hat-tricks to add to Karen Skillcorn’s strike.


England friendships on hold

Belles’ midfield general Gillian Coultard went into the 1990 final at her imperious best. Newly-installed as national skipper in the absence of crocked Debbie Bampton, she had struck the only goal as England beat Belgium 1–0 at Bramall Lane three weeks previously.

Spacey and Sempare lined up alongside Coultard in Sheffield, but old friendships were put on ice for 90 minutes while Cup winner’s medals were at stake.

England’s Belgium victory was achieved with Fulham’s Terry Wiseman on the bench, as her long-time understudy Tracey Davidson got the nod from England boss Martin Reagan. Wiseman had a cracked rib, a legacy of Friends of Fulham’s semi-final against Preston.

The friendly rivalry continued with both goalkeepers at opposite ends of the pitch for the Cup final. Both were desperate to impress, with big qualifying games against Norway and Germany coming up and the first ever FIFA-sanctioned World Cup looming on the horizon.

Derby County and England keeper Peter Shilton had an open training session with Wiseman and Davidson the day before the final. The Women’s Football Association hoped it would serve as a photo op and drum up some much-needed publicity.

Since Wiseman’s England career overlapped with Shilton’s she was inevitably branded his female equivalent. As a girlhood Nottingham Forest fan Davidson had idolised “Shilts”, who held England’s all-time cap record until he was surpassed by Rachel Yankey in July 2013.


Teams – Friends of Fulham

Wiseman took her place in goal but was among Fulham’s walking wounded, as a bruising season of club and international football took its toll.

The right-back was Lori Hoey, resplendent as always in her Johan Cruyff-style number 14 jersey. An experienced campaigner, she had three England caps including one from the Euro 87 semi-final defeat by Sweden. She might have had more caps but for the form of Carol Thomas and Sue Law.

Promising England under-21 cap Mandy O’Callaghan played at left-back. At centre-back Friends of Fulham named Karen Gale, a revelation since signing that season from lower-division Bracknell Ladies.

BELLES
1. Tracey Davidson
2. Julie Chipchase
3. Louise Ryde
4. Jackie Sherrard
5. Loraine Hunt
6. Michelle Jackson
7. Jo Broadhurst (out 80)
8. Gillian Coultard
9. Karen Walker
10.Gail Borman
11.Karen Skillcorn

Substitutes:
12.Yvonne Bagley (in 80)
13.Lorraine Young
14.Sue Herring
15.Claire Large
16.Sheila Edmunds

Coach:
Paul Edmunds

FULHAM
Terry Wiseman .1
Deborah Fox .2
Mandy O’Callaghan .3
Karen Gale .4
Marieanne Spacey .6
(out 52) Cheryl McAdam .7
Brenda Sempare .8
Lynn Jacobs .9
Olivia Hughes.10
Fiona Curl.11
(out 84) Lori Hoey.14

Substitutes:
(in 52) Terri Springett .5
(in 84) Dorrett Wilson.12
Cathy Hynes.13
Julie McCauley.15
Clare Healy.16

Coach:
Fred Brockwell

Alongside Gale was another new signing, Welsh international Deborah Fox – a seasoned campaigner who cut her teeth at Maidstone beside Wendy Owen and already boasted a winner’s medal collected with Howbury Grange in 1984.

The Fox–Gale axis at the heart of Fulham’s defence unshackled Marieanne Spacey who had spent much of the previous season playing at centre-half. Instead, her quicksilver blend of brawn and brilliance was put to use in midfield.

Fiona Curl and Brenda Sempare – the star of the 1985 final – joined Spacey in a midfield three. Record-goalscorer Cheryl McAdam and livewire youngster Livvy Hughes flanked reigning club Player of the Year Lynn Jacobs in attack. Jacobs was preferred to Republic of Ireland cap Cathy Hynes, who warmed the bench alongside utility player Terry Springett (daughter of Ron).

Since their defeat in the previous year’s final, Friends of Fulham had lost the talent and goals of Hope Powell who had returned to Millwall Lionesses. The club had also installed a new manager in Fred Brockwell, whose predecessor George Curl stayed on as a coach.


Teams – Doncaster Belles

Davidson lined up in her fifth Cup final for the Belles. She had stood in for Janet Milner in 1983, then returned to the club two years later to play in the 1986, 1987 and 1988 events. She famously saved Ali Leatherbarrow’s penalty in 1987 to help break the club’s Cup final hoodoo of three successive defeats.

Future Belles boss Julie Chipchase was at right back with high-kicking Taekwondo champ Louise Ryde in the other full-back berth.

Michelle “Mickey” Jackson and Loraine Hunt were the centre-halves. Both were bank workers who also played for England. Hunt was a stylish sweeper who modelled her game on Franz Beckenbauer and Ray Wilkins.

That did not square with her club nickname (“bone head”) which hinted at a willingness to get stuck in where the boots were flying!

England regulars Coultard and Jackie Sherrard formed a central midfield partnership of commitment, courage, stamina and skill. Football maverick Jo Broadhurst was a nominal right winger with license to get on the ball wherever possible. She was nursing a toe injury reportedly caused by falling down the stairs at home.

Diligent utility player Karen Skillcorn was deployed on the left flank. She was in the terrific form which won her a couple of England caps before a “Gazza knee” laid her low.

Striking powerhouse Karen Walker led the line alongside Gail Borman. The week after the Cup final Borman crowned her England debut with a goal, in a 4–0 win over Auld Enemy Scotland at Love Street, Paisley.

Coach Paul Edmunds risked the ire of wife Sheila by naming the club founder and two-goal hero of the 1983 win on the bench. Since their last Cup win two years previously the Belles had lost club stalwart Lorraine Hanson to retirement.


The Match

Seven minutes into the game, Coultard needed extensive treatment after being unceremoniously dumped by England pal Spacey. Broadhurst’s free kick was on target but smartly touched over the bar by an alert Wiseman.

Friends of Fulham were working like Trojans to limit the Belles’ chances, but they still relied heavily on the inspired form of goalkeeper Wiseman. England’s Euro 84 legend made notable first-half saves from Sherrard and Walker.

While Fulham were never overrun – they were much too good for that – they struggled to impose their own attacking armoury on the game. Spacey ended up marking Coultard, while Brenda Sempare could not run the show as she had in the sides’ 1985 final at Craven Cottage.

An efficient, well-oiled unit under coach Edmunds, Doncaster Belles favoured a high-tempo pressing game. They hunted in packs and quickly swarmed round opposition threats in twos and threes.

Karen Walker was locked in a running battle with flinty Deborah Fox, who had an excellent game. Walker’s string of neat passes and flicked headers fed Borman, whose tireless running occupied the rest of the Fulham defence.

The all-important goal came on the hour. Marauding Gillian Coultard played a one-two with Borman and hit an accurate drive into the side of the net from just outside the penalty area. Unsighted by a stray defender, Wiseman was finally beaten.

Coultard, sporting a new perm for the television cameras, was always at the heart of the action. In the second-half she returned Spacey’s first-half compliment, clattering Fulham’s club captain into a heap.

Then Springett, on for McAdam who had tweaked her Achilles tendon, decked Coultard for the second time in the match and was promptly booked by Barnsley ref Dave Phillips.

On 80 minutes Edmunds shored things up by replacing Broadhurst with defender Yvonne Bagley. The Belles held on to win the Cup although Fulham never stopped fighting and Spacey was crowded out by a packed defence in the final moments.

Outspoken former Man United boss Tommy “The Doc” Docherty hailed Coultard’s strike as one of the goals of the season.

Players: Jackie Sherrard

Jackie Sherrard: “The best pure footballer at the Belles”

Head and shoulders shot of a smiling young woman with short curly brown hair in a white t shirt with red and blue stripes

Born: 9 June 1966, Belper
Position: Centre-half, midfielder
Debut: Sweden (H) 30 October 1983
Occupation: Production clerk (1987), Clerical supervisor (1991), Materials and systems manager (1994)

A gifted all-round sportswoman who reportedly played field hockey for England at under 21 level. Turning her attentions to football, she became a key figure for England and in the classic Doncaster Belles team of the 1980s and early 1990s.

Growing up in Jacksdale, a Nottinghamshire mining village, Sherrard played street football with the boys. One lad, Tony Hill, grew up to pen a soporific memoir about his love of Manchester United: If the kids are United (1999). An otherwise forgettable tome at least had the grace to recognise Sherrard’s achievements:

I used to play football regularly with an England International, Championship and FA Cup winner. Her name was Jackie Sherrard, and we used to play on the local rec as kids. No one even questioned that she wanted to play football with the lads; she was always one of the first to be picked when selecting teams and could run rings round most of us. And of all the lads dreaming of becoming a footballer and playing in the FA Cup Final, the only one of us to make it was a girl.

Sherrard played her early club football for the prototypal Nottingham Forest then Arnold LFC, before joining Doncaster Belles in 1982. She could play as a centre-half or in central midfield.

Donny won the WFA Cup for the first time that season — seeing off St Helens 3–2 in the final at Lincoln City’s Sincil Bank stadium.

In those days the route to the national team was through regional trial matches and Sherrard represented the Notts League and the Midland Region.

Martin Reagan gave 18-year-old Sherrard an England debut on 30 October 1983, in a 2–2 friendly draw with Sweden at The Valley.

But she was not selected for the Euro 84 final stages. Reagan kept faith with an experienced back five containing Sherrard’s club-mate Lorraine Hanson (née Dobb) and Angie Gallimore, who had played in the qualifiers.

Three years later she played for England in Euro 87 in Norway, starting the semi-final at Melløs Stadion versus Sweden in the number 7 shirt. England surrendered the lead to lose 3–2 after extra time, following a two-goal salvo from Gunilla Axén. Some sources credit Sherrard with England’s second goal.1

After their win in 1983, Donny Belles suffered three successive heart-breaking defeats in WFA Cup finals. They returned to Sincil Bank in 1984 but were beaten 4–2 by Kent outfit Howbury Grange, captained by Debbie Bampton and managed by her dad Albert.

In 1985 Donny lost 2–0 to Friends of Fulham on enemy territory at Craven Cottage. Although Hynes and McAdam got the goals, the game became known as the ‘Sempare Final’ after a legendary performance from Fulham and England midfielder Brenda Sempare.

1986 saw Donny losing to Norwich Ladies by the odd goal in seven, in another de facto away match at Carrow Road. Luckless Sherrard had started all three defeats.

Sherrard hit the opening goal in the 1987 WFA Cup final versus St. Helens at the City Ground in Nottingham. Tracey Davidson saved a penalty from Saints’ Alison Leatherbarrow before Karen Walker sealed a 2–0 win for Donny in the second half. The final whistle sparked jubilant scenes.

The Belles’ win had been inspired by the return of Prodigal Daughter Gillian Coultard from her exile at Rowntrees WFC of York. St. Helens were booted out of the following season’s competition after manager Keith Mayer slagged off the WFA’s shambolic post-match arrangements.

A year later Sherrard put Donny 2–0 up in an eventual 3–1 win over Leasowe in the 1988 final at Crewe’s Gresty Road. Future Belle Michelle “Mickey” Jackson struck Leasowe’s goal from the penalty spot.

Sherrard’s most memorable game for England was the 1988 Mundialito final, when two goals from Linda Curl overcame hosts Italy 2–1 after extra time.

She also played at England’s first full international at Wembley in May 1989 when goals from the outstanding Pia Sundhage and Lena Videkull sent England to a 2–0 defeat to Sweden, before the men’s Rous Cup game with Chile.

In the 1980s, the Belles would travel to away fixtures on wooden benches in the back of Jackie’s dad’s van. Mick Sherrard also managed the team from 1984 to 1987, and shared the role with Paul Edmunds in 1987–88.

Choosing football over hockey, Sherrard became a fixture in the successful Belles team of the era.

Donny recaptured the WFA Cup in 1990 after a shock quarter-final defeat at the hands of Leasowe Pacific in 1989. Coultard hit the only goal in a tense win over Friends of Fulham at Derby County’s Baseball Ground, with Sherrard in the number 4 jersey.2

In 1991–92 Sherrard contributed 13 goals from midfield as Doncaster Belles carried off the first ever national title, with a 100% record. They added another Cup win to seal a historic double.

She was described by Doncaster Belles manager Paul Edmunds in Pete Davies’s I Lost my Heart to the Belles (1996) as: “the best pure footballer at the club.” A remarkable tribute, considering her team-mates read like a Who’s Who of all-time greats: Coultard, Walker, Broadhurst, Borman.

Sherrard accrued 42 caps for England. She scored in a 2–0 friendly win v Soviet Union at The Dell, Southampton on 7 September 1991. A paltry 345 were in attendance to see it.

She was crocked in a Euro 93 quarter final v Italy 17 October 1992, suffering damaged knee ligaments. Goals from Walker and Spacey saw England escape Solofra with a 3–2 defeat.

After a long recovery with setbacks along the way, she played 90 minutes for the Belles reserves v Huddersfield Town at the tail end of the 1994–95 season.

Consistent defending for the Belles saw her recalled to an enlarged FA-run England squad for the friendly with Germany at Deepdale on 27 February 1997. She was not in the match day squad for England’s 6–4 defeat.


1. Swedish FA records credit England’s goals to usual suspects Kerry Davis and Linda Curl, but the UEFA programme for Euro 1997 listed Davis and “Jacqueline Sherrad” (sic) as the scorers.

2. This article originally said that Sherrard did not play in the 1990 Cup final win. It was amended on 9 May 2015 to reflect that she did: Chris Lightbown’s match report in the Sunday Times does not list Sherrard, but on closer inspection Loraine Hunt is listed twice. Sherrard was listed in the match programme and other reports so it seems she did play.