Football history buffs of the world, unite!
AUTHORITATIVE football stats site RSSSF.com has published a list of the oldest and youngest players to play and score for their countries.
Now the number crunchers behind the prestigious list, stattos of international repute, need your help to properly credit the women who should be on there.
Frankly, if detail about such all-time greats is difficult to come by, how many other candidates are ‘hiding’ in plain sight?
Neil Morrison and his gimlet-eyed cohorts deserve unfettered praise for their efforts. For very few football history experts of this calibre give women’s stuff the time of day: never mind equal billing.
It has always been the case. As Pete Davies put it in I Lost My Heart To The Belles (1996): “the women didn’t keep track of their stats with the stamp-collector’s precision of the men”.
That MUST change for women’s football to put down roots, without which there can be no progress and no ascent. We all have our part to play.
Those in charge of promoting women’s football have long peddled tiresome baloney about explosions in participation numbers. Time and time again we hear that the game is on the cusp of its breakthrough.
The problem with this dubious narrative is that everything pre-breakthrough (ie. before now) is accorded lesser status.
The reset button is hit every two minutes. A long and proud heritage is ignored or, worse, denigrated when it ought to be the major selling point.
If any of you among this site’s small but discerning readership can aid RSSSF in their quest, then please… PLEASE chip in with any info – no matter how small.
Together we can put the women’s game on the record and end many years of shameful neglect. Thank you!
Born: c.1955, Buxton
Position: Defensive midfield
Debut: Scotland (A) 18 November 1972
Midfield enforcer Bagguley, 17, made it through the trials into Eric Worthington’s original England squad in 1972. She also played netball to a high standard.
She was one of two Macclesfield Ladies players to be picked, alongside the 16-year-old substitute goalie Susan Whyatt.
In November 1972 Bagguley anchored the midfield in England’s famous 3–2 debut win in Greenock.
Downmarket tabloid The Sun branded Bagguley: “this charmer from Cheshire who has been called the Nobby Stiles of ladies’ soccer.” But the journo conceded that she was better looking with more teeth!
Friend and contemporary Wendy Owen (2005) characterised Bagguley as: “Hard as nails and a ferocious tackler”.
Owen recalled the formation of a card school with the younger members of the squad: fellow ladettes like Bagguley and Jeannie Allott.
On 31 May 1974 unbeaten England thrashed the Netherlands 3–0 in Groningen. The report in the local Leeuwarder Courant paper credited the first goal to Sue Lopez, but Dutch FA (KNVB) records give it to Bagguley. Pat “Thunder” Davies hit the other two.
Controversially, Bagguley and the other members of the card school gave their WFA handlers the slip after the match and spent the day tearing it up in Amsterdam’s red-light district.
In September 1975 Bagguley was named on the bench for England’s match with Sweden at Plough Lane, Wimbledon. The game finished 1–3 — the second of two chastening beatings administered by the Swedes that year.
Bagguley started another win over the Netherlands at Borough Park, Blackpool on 2 May 1976, in the number 6 shirt. England won 2–1, but she was not included for the Home Nations tournament later that month.
Sue Lopez (1997) wrote that Bagguley was among several leading players who drifted out of football around 1978, frustrated with a general lack of direction and leadership.
UEFA women’s committee – an obstructionist sham composed entirely of male blazers – collapsed that year and properly organised international competitions seemed further away then ever.
The WFA’s Pat Gregory and Hannelore Ratzeburg from Germany eventually set up a proper UEFA committee which got things up and running.
It came too late for the likes of Bagguley, lost to the game in her early 20s.
Born: c.1957, Crewe
Debut: Scotland (A) 18 November 1972
Occupation: Schoolgirl (1972)
Featured in the Sports Illustrated ‘Faces in the Crowd’ column in the 29 November 1965 issue:
Jean Allott, 8, a Crewe, England schoolgirl, scored two goals in her debut at center forward for the Wistaston Green Primary School boys’ soccer team. Said her headmaster, “She passes intelligently with her left foot and goes into the tackle as hard as any of the boys.”
Sue Lopez described “a phenomenally fast, strong, tricky left-winger.”
Allott had reportedly been playing for Fodens for eight years when selected to the first England team in 1972, but was only 16. Branded “a real livewire” character by Wendy Owen, she was the team’s joker.
Some sources credit a goal to Allott in England’s famous 3–2 debut win in Greenock. The footage shows Allott collecting a partly-cleared corner and hoisting an effort from the left hand angle of the penalty area, which is spilled over the line by Scotland goalkeeper Janie Houghton. Pat Davies was also in close attendance but the England players ran to congratulate Allott.
It is now thought Allott was only 15 at the time of England’s first match.
Original England boss Eric Worthington told the FA News in March 1973: “This girl has it all, she’s good with her head, she has perfected the chest trap and her work rate is unbelievable.”
Worthington also claimed that Frank Blunstone (who knew a thing or two about outside-lefts) had tried to sign Allott while back in his native Crewe taking in a schools match. Only to be told: “He’s a girl!”
In England’s fourth match, under the floodlights at Bath City’s Twerton Park, Allott scored the first in a 5–1 win over Northern Ireland. She swept home Pat Firth’s cross after six minutes.
Allott was part of Fodens’ famous 1974 WFA Cup winning team, beating Southampton 2–1 in the final. She was always the journo’s favourite with photogenic long blonde hair.
She continued her footballing education in signing for Dutch outfit Zwart-Wit ’28 Rotterdam in 1976. Southampton’s Pat Chapman took over on England’s left wing.
In the 1987 Women’s FA Cup final programme, Doncaster Belles’ Lorraine “Polly” Young name-checked Allott as the best women’s player she had ever seen.
February 2017 update:
In the Netherlands Allott found League and Cup success with KFC ’71 during the 80s.
She made such an impression that Oranje boss Bert van Lingen handed her a national team call-up.
Inevitably, she was brilliant and hit eight goals in 12 caps from 1985 to 1987.
Allott stunned France with the only goal in her March 1985 debut. Then blasted a hat-trick in the return match that October, as the Dutch left Cambrai with a 5–3 win.
Six of her 12 caps came in Euro 87 qualifiers, so it is not clear if UEFA were unaware of her earlier appearances for England, or had granted dispensation.
Shortly before crossing the North Sea, Allott played against the Dutch in England’s 2–1 win at Borough Park, Blackpool, in May 1976.
The birth-date on her Dutch FA (KNVB) records suggest she had turned 16 the day before her England debut in 1972.