Players: Maureen Reynolds

Maureen Martin (née Reynolds): Teak-tough England defender and Cup-winning Norwich manager

Team captains Maureen Reynolds (L) and Sue Buckett (R) with Newsround supremo John Craven at the WFA Cup Final, Waterlooville, 6 May 1979

Team captains Maureen Reynolds (L) and Sue Buckett (R) with Newsround supremo John Craven at the WFA Cup Final, Waterlooville, 6 May 1979

Born: c.1952, Norwich

Position: Defender

Debut: Belgium (A) 1 May 1980

Occupation: Office manager (1981), Company director (1986)

It’s one of life’s mysteries how certain people seem to have extra hours in their day. While some of us can spend entire days gawping at Sky Sports News in our PJs, this curious breed are out there racking up achievements and making things happen. Maureen Reynolds was a top footballer with Lowestoft Ladies and England. Not content with this, she later built a totally new club from the ground up and led it to Women’s FA Cup glory. This is her story…


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.

That booked Reynolds’ place on the plane for the 1981 Portopia Tournament in Japan. She subbed in for Linda Coffin during the 4–0 win over the hosts in Kobe.

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.


Reynolds (back row, far right) with her young Norwich Ladies charges, 1982.

Reynolds (back row, far right) with her young Norwich Ladies charges, 1982.

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!

Match: Lowestoft 2–0 Cleveland, 1 May 1982, Loftus Road

Loftus Road 1 May 1982 – Lowestoft Ladies 2–0 Cleveland Ladies

Woe for Cleveland as Lowestoft’s Linda Curl and Angie Poppy put a new name on the Women’s FA Cup

Classic match report: Spartans dashed by Waves who secure 1982 WFA Cup

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In May 1982 goals from Linda Curl (26) and Angela Poppy (58) gave Lowestoft their first WFA Cup, at the expense of Cleveland. The event was staged at a Football League ground for the first time, on – topically – a controversial plastic pitch at QPR’s Loftus Road in Shepherd’s Bush, London.

This was the competition’s 12th final and only the second not to feature Southampton WFC, following St Helens’ 1–0 victory over Preston North End at Enfield in 1980. Eleven of the next 12 finals were contested by Doncaster Belles.

Football League whistler Danny Vickers (Ilford) took charge of the 80-minute showpiece, which was sponsored by “TRIMTAPE”. This was an exercise audio cassette tape devised and marketed by lycra-clad dance legend Eileen Fairbane.

Kick-off was at 12.30 pm, prior to promotion-chasing QPR’s 7–1 Second Division win over Bolton Wanderers at 3pm. The men’s match attracted a crowd of 9,995.

Cleveland Ladies – The Spartans

Cleveland Spartans 1982

Cleveland were formed in 1976 as Cleveland Rangers. The Middlesbrough outfit edged out Southampton in an epic semi-final, winning a replay 2–1 after the first game in Hampshire was locked at 1–1 after extra-time.

After getting a bye in the first round, they had seen off Kilnhurst (4–1), Fodens (5–2), Aylesbury (1–0) and BYC Argyle (4–0) to book their place in the semi.

In the WFA’s patchwork regional setup Cleveland had been shoehorned into the Nottingham League (Middlesbrough is nearly 130 miles from Nottingham). There they lived in the shadow of Doncaster Belles.

The club was managed by Andy Neal, the son of Chelsea and ex–Middlesbrough manager John Neal. Experienced campaigner Janet Turner, a science teacher and FA preliminary coach, also took on some coaching responsibilities.

This Janet Turner is not to be confused with her namesake and contemporary who played on the left-wing for St Helens and Crewe and was a hero of England’s Euro 1984 run.

Cleveland’s previous coach John Simms had stood in as the WFA’s England manager for 1979’s unofficial Euro championship in Italy, after Tommy Tranter had left to manage in Iceland.

Lowestoft Ladies – The Waves

Formed in 1971, Lowestoft shared Lowestoft Town men’s Crown Meadow ground and were gunning for a double. They recaptured the South East Women’s League title in 1981–82 and won through to their second WFA Cup final. “The Waves” had lost 1–0 to Southampton in 1979 at Waterlooville.

On 21 March 1981 Lowestoft made history in facing rivals Maidstone at Carrow Road, Norwich, immediately after the Norwich City v Arsenal men’s First Division match. This pioneered the ‘double-header’ and was the first women’s match to share the bill with a Football League game.

Sporting their classic 80s Bukta kit, Lowestoft accounted for Colchester (4–1), Suffolk Bluebirds (7–0), Old Actonians (2–0), Preston North End (3–1) and Doncaster Belles (4–2). Maidstone were edged out 1–0 in a tense semi-final.

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Manager Stewart Reynolds had assembled a strong team, bringing in England internationals Debbie Bampton and Vicky Johnson as close-season signings from Maidstone and Spurs, respectively.

They joined local favourites Angie Poppy and Linda Curl, prolific goalscorers and also both England internationals. The match programme described Poppy, only 28, as a ‘former international’ with five caps.

Young skipper Jackie Slack, a defender, made her England debut a couple of years later at the 1984 Mundialito. Wunderkind centre-back Sallie Ann Jackson, 16, bagged consecutive WFA Cup winner’s medals in 1984, 1985 and 1986 with three different clubs then turned pro with AC Milan.

England midfield powerhouse Debbie Bampton played in this game before taking up an offer to play and coach in Auckland, New Zealand. A broken leg restricted her to coaching and she was back for England’s Euro 84 qualifying campaign.

The Match

The match exploded into life and surged from end-to-end, both teams struggling to adapt to the ridiculous conditions underfoot. QPR’s plastic ‘Omniturf’ was a very early form of the artificial turf which marred the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.


1. Rita Fossey

2. Mary Hinson

3. Jackie Slack (c)

4. Vicky Johnson (out 78′)

5. Sallie Jackson

6. Kim Blowers

7. Angie Poppy

8. Deborah Bampton

9. Shirley Jones (out 69′)

10.Linda Curl

11.Julie Bolton


12.Avril Nolloth (in 69′)

13.Kate Purdom (in 78′)

14.Hannah Davidson

Coach: Stewart Reynolds


Janice Elliott .1

Pamela Williams .2

Anna Citro .3

Marrie Wieczorek .4

Denise Markham .5

Susan Anderson .6

(out 69′) (c) Ann Duffy .7

Margaret Anderson .8

Jane Hughes .9

Teresa Murphy.10

Julie Tomlinson.11


Jane Laugher.12

Janet Turner.13

(in 69′) Carol Wickham.14

Julie Hogan.15

Coach: Andy Neal

Lowestoft’s defence closely watched Cleveland crackshot Jane Hughes, who had plundered 22 goals that season and hit the semi-final winner over Southampton.

On 26 minutes Lowestoft’s class told and Linda Curl, one of the finest penalty-box predators English football has ever seen, scored a typical opportunist goal.

Cleveland’s tireless full-back Anna Citro, an England basketball player who toiled at Middlesbrough’s ICI factory in her day job, enjoyed a titanic struggle with Lowestoft counterpart Vicky Johnson.

Marrie “Maz” Wieczorek gave a typically whole-hearted midfield performance for Cleveland. The club’s reigning Player of the Year, she collected three caps for England in 1980 and became Cleveland’s first international player.

Gritty northerners Cleveland kept battling to stem the tide but were undone again on 58 minutes when Poppy turned in a corner from the right.

Both teams fought on with determination and aggression, with no quarter asked or given. On 69 minutes Lowestoft’s Shirley Jones was carried off on a stretcher, nursing a broken collarbone.

Former FA secretary Sir Denis Follows was on hand to present the trophy to Waves captain Jackie Slack. Women’s football lost a great friend and ally when Sir Denis died the following year.

Cathy Gibb’s match report in the WFA News said of gallant runners-up Cleveland:

Left bitterly dejected and reflecting on what might have been, the North-East losers Cleveland contributed to a game that perhaps failed to reach the capable heights of a classic cup final but in fact won the hearts of many new sporting friends in the world of professionalism.


The victorious Lowestoft team were granted a civic reception at Lowestoft Town Hall. There they were warmly greeted by Waveney District Council’s first female chair Daphne Mellor.

Romance blossomed between bearded Lowestoft boss Stew Reynolds and goalscorer Angie Poppy. Their son Carl Poppy had football in his genes and turned out for Lowestoft Town at Wembley in the 2008 FA Vase final.

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This was the high-water mark for Lowestoft, who rapidly hit the skids. The team spectacularly failed to defend their trophy, being crushed 7–0 by Warminster in the fourth round of the 1982–83 competition. Instead Doncaster Belles scooped their first Cup at Sincil Bank and built a dynasty by reaching 11 of the next 12 finals.

Lowestoft Ladies reformed in 2011 and currently play in the Eastern Region Premier Division. In January 2015 the ’82 squad held a reunion at the current team’s FA Women’s Cup tie with Luton, inspiring their young counterparts to a famous 2–1 win.

At some point Cleveland formally linked up with Middlesbrough FC and became Middlesbrough Ladies. Stalwart Maz Wieczorek stayed involved and served the club for many years as manager and honorary president. She famously led the club on a historic tour to North Korea in 2010. They are currently scrapping for points in Division One (North) of the FA Women’s Premier League.


1. Cleveland’s Anna Citro (left) kicks across Vicky Johnson of Lowestoft (right) during the match.
2. Cleveland’s cup final squad. Back (L–R): Jane Laugher, Margaret Anderson, Pamela Williams, Susan Anderson, Caroline Wickham, Jane Hughes, Denise Markham, Kim Moore. Front (L–R): Teresa Murphy, Julie Hogan, Anna Citro, Janet Turner, Marrie Wisczorek, Ann Duffy (captain), Janice Elliott, Gillian Hood.
3. Jubilant Lowestoft players on their lap of honour.
4. Statuesque Lowestoft skipper Jackie Slack hoists the famous Women’s FA trophy.

Players: Linda Curl

Linda Curl

Smiling woman with brown shoulder-length hair in a white t-shirt with blue and red stripes

Born: c.1962, Norwich

Position: Striker

Debut: Switzerland (H) 28 April 1977

Occupation: Policewoman (1988)

The Lioness of Arco: a long-serving striking legend with an insatiable appetite for goals.

Norwich police officer who was a player for the big occasion—with the medals to prove it—and a loyal servant to the English cause.

Tommy Tranter gave youthful Curl her England debut on 28 April 1977 in a 9–1 win over Switzerland at Boothferry Park, Hull.1

Her next England appearance was much less auspicious, a 2–1 defeat to the Scots at Downfield Juniors FC ground, near Dundee, on 29 May. It would be the Auld Enemy’s first ever win over England, and their last for 34 years, until the 2011 Cyprus Cup.

On 18 September Curl was involved as England returned to winning ways by hammering Wales 5–0 in Warminster, all the goals coming in the second half.

She collected a fourth cap in the 1–0 win over Italy at Plough Lane, Wimbledon on 15 November 1977. Lowestoft Ladies starlet Curl started the match in a midfield role wearing number 6. Sheila Parker, wearing number 10, struck the winner.

On 28 October 1978, Curl added to Elaine “Baddy” Badrock’s double as England beat Belgium 3–0. Played at Southampton FC’s The Dell, it was England’s first match at a top level ground.

Lowestoft Ladies, the team from the easternmost town in the UK, reached the 1979 Women’s FA Cup final. But Curl’s team were edged out 1–0 by Southampton, the dominant team of the era, at Jubilee Park, Waterlooville.

England went to an unofficial European Championship in July 1979 and dispatched Finland and Switzerland in Sorrento during group play. That gave them a crack at hosts Italy in the semi-final staged at the San Paulo, Naples. Curl equalised Betty Vignotto’s first half opener, but England wilted in the heat and lost 3–1.

In September 1981 Curl was part of the England party who toured Japan for the Portopia ’81 tournament. She finished 1981–82 with a WFA Cup winners’ medal, Curl and Angie Poppy scoring in Lowestoft’s 2–0 final win over Cleveland Spartans at Loftus Road. It was the first time the final was held on a Football League ground.

Lowestoft disbanded in the aftermath of that success and Curl joined up with Norwich Ladies, “The Fledgelings” who had been formed by Maureen Reynolds in April 1982.

In 1983 Curl ran in 22 goals in Norwich’s farcical 40–0 Chiltern League demolition of Milton Keynes Reserves. Representing a record of sorts,2 it made English women’s football look stupid, exposing a serious dearth of structure and quality outside the top teams. Boffins Williams and Woodhouse (1991) branded it “damaging and embarrassing” and asked “who could take women’s football seriously?”

As a world-class striker Curl deserved a better stage for her talents. In those days the best players gravitated to Italy’s semi-pro league but Curl’s cop career seems to have kept her at home.

After 1979, it took dozy UEFA chiefs five more years to finally organise a proper Euro Cup. The regionalised qualifying tournament gave England a free pass to the finals, with substandard Scottish and Irish opposition swatted aside. Livewire youngster Kerry Davis burst on the scene and formed an effective front two with Curl.

Although England did not have it all their own way: Kerry Davis got them out of a tight spot in Dublin, scoring the only goal against ‘the fighting Irish’.

In the first leg of the semi, versus Denmark at Gresty Road in Crewe, Curl put England ahead four minutes before half time. Danish great Inge Hindkjær hit back in the second half but Liz Deighan gave England a priceless 2–1 lead to take to Denmark.3 Three weeks later in Hjørring, Debbie Bampton’s thumping header settled the tie.

The Euro 84 final saw England battered by Sweden in the first leg, but escape Ullevi stadium with a 1–0 defeat thanks to doughty defending and the heroics of goalkeeper Terry Wiseman.

Curl levelled the tie by scoring in the second leg at a boggy Kenilworth Road in Luton. She had England’s first kick in the resultant penalty shootout saved and had to watch Pia Sundhage slot past Wiseman to give the Swedes the trophy.

1984 teammate Hope Powell recalled in a May 2009 interview with The Guardian‘s Tony Leighton that Curl “went ballistic in the showers” to puncture the post match gloom and get the other players smiling again.

Norwich Ladies won the 1986 WFA Cup, beating Doncaster Belles in a 4–3 thriller at Carrow Road. Team captain Curl scored her customary goal but must have been injured shortly afterwards because she returned in 1986–87 to Norwich after a “very bad knee operation” (club secretary Eve Bedson in WFA News Jan 87). In characteristic fashion Curl plundered 13 goals in her first game back.

In June 1987 Curl’s England were back at the Euros in Norway, after rattling in 34 goals in six qualifying matches against more feeble Scottish and Irish opposition.

She started the semi–final at Melløs Stadion, Moss, versus Sweden in the number 11 shirt. Some sources suggest Curl scored,4 but England lost 3–2 after extra time, following a two-goal salvo from Gunilla Axén. A pitiful 300 fans were in attendance.

July 1988’s Mundialito (“little World Cup”) tournament in Trento, Italy, was Curl’s finest hour. She was the competition’s top scorer with four goals. The Times reporter Sue Mott wrote that England’s “leading striker” was away attending a family wedding,5 so a teenaged Karen Walker was drafted in and given a debut.

At the final in Arco, the “suspiciously awful” (according to Sue Mott) Italian referee Antonio Cafiero was an unrepentant homer. Curl put England ahead with ten minutes to go, but Cafiero played on and on while a gutsy and patched up England were knackered. Inevitably, home favourite Carolina Morace scored right at the death to force extra time. The irrepressible Curl popped up with another goal two minutes before penalties and England’s walking wounded bravely held out against the wily and sinewy Italians.

The team had paid their own way there, and at Luton Airport on the way back jubilant WFA secretary Linda Whitehead allowed herself a gentle dig at the FA: “At least when we go abroad,” she said, “we don’t come back empty-handed.” Despite massive resources England’s male team had flopped yet again at their Euro 88.

Curl’s feat won England the prestigious Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year Award for Team of the Year.

That was the high watermark for England, whose next match was a chastening 2–0 defeat in Klepp, Norway. UEFA had scrapped the home nations qualifiers for Euro 89 and England finished a distant third behind Norway and the Danes.

At club level Curl moved on to Ipswich Town in summer 1988, from Town & County, whom she had previously joined from Norwich Ladies. It is not clear if she was still with Ipswich when the first National League was formed in 1991–92.

In May 1989 Curl graced Wembley’s hallowed turf as a substitute in England’s first full international there. Goals from the outstanding Pia Sundhage and Lena Videkull sent the Lionesses to a 2–0 defeat to Sweden, before the men’s Rous Cup game with Chile.

Curl’s England swansong came in a 4–0 win over Scotland at Love Street, Paisley on 6 May 1990. It was reported as her 60th cap. She hit England’s first goal on three minutes, a close range finish off a cleverly worked short corner routine. She retired as England’s record cap holder.

1. Curl was reported to be 16, but birth records indicate a Linda J Curl registered in Norwich in 1962. If this is correct she must have been even younger.

2. It made The Guinness Book of Records. The 1991 edition said the match took place on 25 September 1983 and also listed Curl as England’s record cap holder with 59.

3. The Danish FA credit England’s second goal to Liz Deighan, Cathy Gibb’s WFA News report credits Debbie Bampton.

4. Swedish FA records credit England’s goals to Davis and Curl, but the UEFA programme for Euro 1997 listed Davis and Jacqueline Sherrad (sic) as the scorers.

5. This must refer to either Kerry Davis or Marieanne Spacey?