England crush German rivals at 1970 Women’s World Cup in Italy
Remember when England whupped Germany 5–1? No, not that time. Y’know… 1970… at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris in Genoa? Before Stevie G, Michael O and, er, Emile H were even born. No? Then read on…
UPDATE: See below for a November 2016 update to this article.
The Women’s Football Association gingerly began life as the ‘Ladies’ Football Association of Great Britain’ in 1969.
For a few years they remained so bogged down in ludicrous ‘steering groups’ and ‘joint-consultative sub-committees’ that nothing actually got done in terms of putting a national team out.
Meanwhile, hard-headed realist Harry Batt got on and made things happen. Like all the best drivers of early women’s football he acted without waiting for permission.
Batt was the manager of Chiltern Valley Ladies, where his formidable wife June had played, and had taken it upon himself to put together an England national team.
Meanwhile an independent world women’s football governing body, FIEFF, had been formed as the brainchild of a group of Italian businessmen. Among them was Marco Rambaudi, furniture magnate and owner of the Real Torino women’s football club.
Martini & Rossi, purveyors of sickly fortified wines – popular in the pre-alcopop 70s – were the group’s main sponsors.
A Coppa Europa involving Batt’s England had proved to be a money-spinner for FIEFF in 1969. Thumbing their nose at FIFA, the Italian impresarios put together an even more ambitious eight-team Coppa del Mondo in 1970.
Another invitation winged its way to Batt, while teams from Mexico, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark and West Germany were also rounded up. Czechoslovakia pulled out at late notice when they were refused visas.
Plans to invite Brazil were scuppered when it turned out women’s football there was not only banned – as it was in most places – but actually illegal.
Martini ponied up for a massive ornate trophy, to be collected by the tournament winners.
England’s star players Sue Lopez and Dot Cassell ultimately earned moves to full-time football in Italy off the back of their performances for Batt’s team.
Here the Italian press reported that Lopez had a distant relative in the Mexican squad, due to the great-granddad who had bequeathed her Iberian moniker.
Sue’s copious memoirs rather skirt over this 1970 tournament. It was apparently a bit naughty of her to take part: she was, after all, the nascent WFA’s assistant secretary.
Batt was said to be sweating on Cassell and Lopez turning up – they made their own way to Italy after starring for Southampton in the Deal International Tournament.
Sue Buckett, the great Southampton goalkeeper who became a fixture in the WFA’s England team, was in the team lists published by La Stampa on the morning of the match, with Everitt on the bench. But in the following day’s match report it was Everitt between the sticks with Buckett nowhere to be seen.
There were a few other interesting names in Batt’s line-up, which might suggest his team was stronger and more representative than it has often been given credit for.
Briggs and Seymour jump out: Joan Briggs and Jean Seymour were veterans of the big Northern works teams who dominated England’s domestic scene in the pre-WFA era.
Seymour had moved down to play for Southampton, while Briggs turned out for Leicester side EMGALS and was one of the last players to be cut from Eric Worthington’s 1972 England team. Briggs later became a Tory Councillor in the East Midlands (Boo! Hiss!)
Denmark proved too strong in England’s next match, winning 2–0 at a canter in Milan.
Neither Cassell or Lopez were in the England team which lost the third place play-off 3–2 to Mexico in Turin. Batt’s girls never recovered from a sensational early goal by Alicia Vargas, perhaps the Marta of her day.
The Germans did not set up an official women’s team until 1982. So the invite for this tournament was taken up by Heinz Schweden, coach of club team SC Bad Neuenahr.
The Rhine Valley outfit made headlines in 2000 when they signed former Southampton Saints and Reading frontwoman Sarah Stainer, making her the first English player in the Frauen-Bundesliga.
Like Batt’s England, the Germans bolstered their ranks with guest players. Captain Margaretha Holl joined from Bellenberg. Sieglinde Schmied and Anneliese Probst came in from Ludwigsfeld and Gannertshofen, respectively.
The Bad Neuenahr team had a youthful spine: Maria Nelles (later Breuer) was the 17-year-old goalkeeper and Elisabeth “Fritzi” Schuhmacher the midfield hub. Prolific 15-year-old Martina Arzdorf (later Hertel) was charged with leading the line and getting the goals.
England and West Germany both trained at Genoa’s impressive stadium on the day before the match, with Batt and Schweden soon at loggerheads over alleged spying!
The spat foreshadowed the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup – where the Chinese hosts subjected their opponents to creepy surveillance, involving bugged dressing rooms and two-way mirrors.
In its quaintly shambolic way, the bickering proved that the stakes were high. Batt and Schweden were contrary characters. They needed to be, too: by running their “unofficial” national teams they constantly shrugged off threats of dire consequences from football’s powers that be.
A crowd of around 3,000 were in place for the half nine kick-off, after which England quickly seized control of the match.
Briggs blasted an early two-goal salvo, inside the first minute and then on nine minutes. Stockley knocked in a penalty on 25 minutes, awarded by fussy Italian ref Loffi. Cross’s goal on the half hour mark gave England a commanding 4–0 half-time lead.
Germany’s Schmied reduced the arrears with an eye-catching solo goal on 49 minutes, before – who else? – Sue Lopez lashed in a fifth to make the game safe on 61 minutes.
The match made a small ripple in the West German press. Abendzeitung sports hack Veit Mölder, piqued at the Germans’ thrashing, instead focused on the players’ looks.
Scoffing at the Brits’ “tree-truck calves”, Mölder seedily branded the German teens “die schönere Elf” (the beautiful eleven). Well, it was the 70s!
Meanwhile the sweaty-palmed, dirty raincoat-wearing snappers trained their long lenses on German number 4 Helga Waluga. The same treatment was meted out to England’s own blond bombshell Jeannie Allott a couple of years later.
It would be 45 long years before Fara Williams’ trusty right boot gave England victory over Germany again, at the 2015 World Cup in Canada.
Italian preparations for the tournament were marred by internal politics and internecine strife.
The team was selected by FICF, who were based in Viareggio and then Turin. A rival Rome-based association, FFIGC, banned its players from taking part.
FFIGC league champions Gommagomma noisily bragged that they would thrash the FICF national team. The Milan outfit may well have done too – their 16-year-old striker was the legendary Betty Vignotto.
The Italians still put out a strong team, containing captain and golden girl Elena Schiavo and excellent goalkeeper Wilma Seghetti. As holders of FIEFF’s 1969 Coppa Europa, they were looking to underline their dominance in their own backyard.
Notorious slow starters, the Italians edged out the Swiss 2–1 in Salerno. Then Schiavo booked their place in the final, grabbing a double to see off highly-fancied Mexico in Naples.
Top club team Femina BK were invited to represent Denmark, as they had in the previous year’s Coppa Europa. They wanted to go one better having finished runners-up to their Italian hosts on that occasion.
The Femina ranks boasted a couple of talented Czechs in the shape of Jana Mandikova and Maria Sevcikova, a legacy of the club’s 1968 tour behind the old iron curtain. Sevcikova was already in the sights of Italian clubs and had been on trial at Real Torino alongside Sue Lopez.
Things got off to a rocky start when the hamper containing Femina’s iconic white kits failed to materialise. Suspicion fell on the Russian travel agents. Undeterred, the Danes sourced a job lot of AC Milan replica kits at a local sports shop and wore those instead.
Femina opened their campaign with a 6–1 win over West Germany, who were tired out by their England defeat and an exhausting train journey from Genoa to Bologna.
Two goals from Evers disposed of England in the semi-final in Milan – setting up a mouthwatering final rematch with Italy in Turin.
The match was staged at Turin’s Stadio Communale (now the Stadio Olimpico after it was refurb’ed for the 2006 Winter Olympics).
Ex-Juventus custodian Giovanni Viola was in evidence, later making measured and sensible comment about the quality of football on show.
24,000 ticket sales went through the books, but the actual number inside the ground was reckoned at more than 40,000. Marco Rambaudi and pals made a killing but rubbed FIFA up the wrong way.
The crooks at the world governing body felt quite strongly, then as now, that their own noses should always be first in the trough on such occasions.
After an even bigger, better FIEFF World Cup in Mexico the following year, FIFA redoubled their efforts. High-level interference blocked a tournament in fascist Spain after which FIEFF fizzled out.
On the pitch, Denmark duly took revenge on Italy with goals in either half from Hansen and their irrepressible Czech Sevcikova.
Femina returned home in triumph having scooped the world title. But there was something rotten in the state of Denmark: their civic reception turned into a damp squib when the team caught an earlier train and missed the festivities.
The club inked a big sponsorship deal with the FAXE brewery off the back of their “World Champions” tag. But the peevish Danish FA (DBU) did everything in their power to stamp Femina out altogether over the following couple of years.
An article in the Southern Evening Echo makes it clear that Sue Lopez and the Southampton players pulled out of the squad on the eve of the tournament and DID NOT take part, after all.
Quotes from Lopez indicate a mooted transport strike on the continent dissuaded the Southampton players from setting off at 8am the day after their Deal heroics. They were also wary about being seen to undermine the WFA.
The 2–0 semi-final defeat by Denmark in Milan was followed by unsavoury scenes, as players fled in terror from exuberant Italian fans invading the pitch. Batt insisted, not entirely convincingly: “The crowd did invade the pitch but the did not touch my girls. I can surely deny this. They may have been jostled a bit but nothing more.”
It seems Seymour in the England team was not Jean (née Gollin), the Mancunian veteran of Corinthians and Dick, Kerr’s Ladies, but Janice Seymour – a team-mate of Louise Cross of Patstone United.
Thanks to Neil Morrison of The Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation for additional info.
Born: 1947, Southampton
Position: Press and media officer
Occupation: Restauranteur (1983), Jewellery shop proprietor (2008)
Roger Ebben: WFA PR Guru.
Of all the challenges facing the newly-formed WFA in 1969, the issue of media coverage was perhaps the most pressing. As the first England boss Eric Worthington put it on taking charge in 1972: “the thought came to me that perhaps what the Association needed most of all was a full time publicity manager rather than a team manager!”
Of course England did have a press officer, in the shape of Ebben. He was young, bright and keen, but was purely voluntary, as were the other officers at that time.
Wendy Owen’s Kicking Against Tradition (2005) remembered Ebben at an early England training camp at Loughborough in 1972. A faded black and white photo shows him in evidence at the 1976 Pony Home Championship.
Roger Kift Ernest Victor Ebben, to use his Sunday name, had been a Redcoat at Butlins Minehead in 1968. Unconfirmed reports suggest he worked for Reading FC at some stage.
In 1983 he emigrated to Aalborg, Denmark and spent a decade running the restaurant at Denmark’s Museum of Modern Art (Nordjyllands Kunstmuseum) alongside his Danish wife.
In Denmark Ebben became a tractor pulling enthusiast. No, not a euphemism, but a bona fide sport where souped-up tractors, er, pull heavy loads before enthralled crowds.
At one stage he sent tractor pulling mainstream by inking a sponsorship deal with Philip Morris tobacco. The smoking barons sorted out a TV deal in Pakistan, where tobacco advertising was legal, and the spectacle was beamed into millions of households.
He later worked as an English teacher and voice-over artist, then remarried a Chinese lady and together they ran a fashion jewellery shop in Aalborg, Smukke Verden.
In the nicest possible way, Ebben was perhaps a slightly wacky oddball. Like many of us drawn to women’s football’s strong counter-cultural aspect. His contribution in those difficult early days will never be forgotten.
Roger died on 11 July 2014 in his beloved Denmark, following complications from a heart op.
Caught in time: the England women’s football team jet off to Japan in September 1981
In autumn 1981 coach Martin Reagan‘s charges made history by becoming the first England national team ever to visit the Land of the Rising Sun.
According to the Japanese FA, the Portpier 81 International Ladies Football Festival tournament was tied in with Portopia ’81, a massive trade fair or “Expo” to mark the completion of Port Island. This was a man-made island built off the coast of Kobe between 1966 and 1981 at a cost of several billion yen. Another island was completed in 1992, only for Kobe to be rocked by a devastating earthquake in 1995.
Matches were played as double-headers, 40 minutes each way. The second round of fixtures was played 300 miles north east of Kobe, in Japan’s capital city Tokyo. The Danish FA (DBU) report attendances of 5,000 in Kobe and 3,000 in Tokyo. England v Italy and Denmark v Japan fixtures do not seem to have been played: perhaps a discreet veil was drawn over them after the hosts’ 9–0 hammering by Italy!
The Italians classed the tournament as an edition of their Mundialito series. And they had no compunction about declaring themselves the winners despite drawing with Denmark and not playing England.
|Date||Venue||Team 1||Score||Team 2||Scorers|
|6 September 15:30||Kobe Central Stadium, Kobe||Denmark||1–1||Italy||Inger Pedersen (32), Betty Vignotto (65)|
|6 September 17:30||Kobe Central Stadium, Kobe||Japan||0–4||England||Angie Gallimore (45, 48), Vicky Johnson (71), Debbie Bampton (75)|
|Date||Venue||Team 1||Score||Team 2||Scorers|
|9 September 17:30||Tokio Nishigaoka Stadium, Tokyo||Japan||0–9||Italy||Carolina Morace, Sandra Pierazzuoli (2), Betty Saldi (2), Betty Secci, Betty Vignotto (2)|
|9 September 19:30||Tokio Nishigaoka Stadium, Tokyo||England||0–1||Denmark||Inger Pedersen (49)|
Excitement and joy was etched on the players’ faces as they lined up for the photocall before setting off from Heathrow. It was to be the first time England had faced opposition from outside Europe.
Nottingham Forest’s Brian Clough had enraged the Japanese in February 1981 by contrasting their hi-tech “television wristwatches” with their failure to “grow some bloody grass”.
Forest lost the Intercontinental Cup 1–0 to Uruguayans Club Nacional on a bumpy, sandy mess at Tokyo’s national stadium.
Ever the diplomat, manager Martin Reagan was more measured: “Quite obviously, the lack of grass pitches will cause great problems in developing their game and will certainly influence their style and tactics.”
In England’s first match, hosts Japan bravely held out until half time only for Angie Gallimore to score twice in the opening 10 minutes of the second period. Johnson and Bampton added late goals as Japan eventually succumbed 4–0.
The players and staff reportedly bopped the night away until 1am in a local disco before jetting on to Tokyo.
The next matchday saw England edged out 1–0 by Denmark. Inger Pedersen, who also got the Danes’ goal in their opening 1–1 draw with Italy, scored a late goal off an assist from the excellent Lone Smidt Hansen (later Lone Smidt Nielsen).
After jetting back to England, WFA chairman David Hunt described the tour as “satisfactory” and expressed pride that in visiting such exotic climes the women had achieved something that England’s pampered male players had yet to do.
Vs Japan (4–3–3): Wiseman (Irvine); Thomas (Johnson), Gallimore, Parker, Coffin (Reynolds); Curl (Coultard), Bampton, Deighan; Doe, Foreman (Hutchinson), Turner
Vs Denmark (4–3–3): Wiseman; Thomas, Gallimore, Parker, Coffin; Curl (Coultard), Bampton, Deighan; Foreman (Hutchinson), Doe, Turner
|3||Gillian Coultard||Midfielder||18||Doncaster Belles|
|5||Janet Turner||Forward||20||St Helens|
|9||Liz Deighan||Midfielder||26||St Helens|
|10||Carol Thomas (née McCune)||Defender (captain)||26||C.P. Doncaster|
|12||Christine Hutchinson||Midfielder||28||Percy Main|
|13||Sheila Parker (née Porter)||Defender||34||Preston North End|
In 1981 Japanese women’s football was in its infancy. The first edition of the national club Championship, the Empress’s Cup, had been played over two days in March 1980 at Mitsubishi Yowa Soccer Club in Sugamo, Tokyo. Eight teams played 25 minutes each way, eight-a-side with a size four ball on a specially marked out 76m X 54m (i.e. 3:4 size) pitch.
The winning team, FC Jinnan, had previously represented Japan in the 1977 Asian Championships; Japan’s first tentative foray into the international arena. They finished bottom of their group after losing 1–0 to Indonesia then being demolished 7–0 by hosts Taiwan.
A proper Japan team was put together for the Asian Championships in June 1981, going out after three first round matches. It cost the players 30,000 yen each for the privilege of going to Hong Kong. Etsuko Handa, who had just turned 16, got the team’s first ever goal in a 1–0 win over Indonesia.
In only their fifth ever match here they found themselves confronted with Carolina Morace and Betty Vignotto—two of the world’s greatest ever strikers—and found themselves a bit out of their depth.
The team will not have enjoyed taking such a pasting in front of their own fans, as the concept of “honour” was still big in Japanese culture. Historically, women even had their own version of Hari-Kari: known as Jigaki, which was ritual disembowelment but with one’s knees primly tied together — thereby avoiding any undignified splayed legs.
Some players stuck at it though, the pioneering Handa played at the Atlanta Olympics 15 years later.
In 1981 the status of Asian women’s football was in a stand off, as detailed in an interesting chapter in Jean Williams’ A Beautiful Game (2007).
The independent Asian Ladies Football Confederation (ALFC) were trying to affiliate to FIFA in their own right, while FIFA were telling them to fall into line under the (male) Asian Football Confederation. The male confederation, guided by one or two influential Muslim bigots in places like Malaysia, wanted nothing to do with women’s football.
In the mid 1980s the AFC accepted women’s football and the Japanese FA appointed a properly qualified coach, Ryohei Suzuki, to run the team in 1986. The 1981 team had been coached by a well-meaning schoolteacher.
Eventually in the 1990s FIFA stopped trying to suppress women’s football and decided to run “official” national team competitions.
Disgustingly corrupt FIFA kingpin João Havelange used his shamed ISL marketing company to run the events and channel sizeable kickbacks into his own bank account.
Japan eventually rose to the top of the tree, winning the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup with a dainty brand of tiki-taka which did justice to their “Nadeshiko” nickname.
The info for this article came from Sue Lopez’s indispensible Women on the Ball (1997), Jean Williams’s A Beautiful Game (2007) and the WFA’s match programme for England v Norway 25 October 1981. Luckily the Japanese, Danish and Italian FAs all keep better records than their English counterparts.
On the second matchday Associated Press (AP) issued a three-line press release: “SOCCER TOKYO (AP) – Italy beat Japan 9-0 and Denmark edged England 1-0 in a women’s tournament. Elisabetta Saldi, Sandra Pierazzuoli and Elisabetta Vignotto scored two goals each for Italy. In the second game, Denmark’s Inger Pedersen shot in the winning goal at the 65th minute, assisted by Smidt Hansen.”
Update: Article amended with further info supplied by the estimable Soccer History Magazine (see comments).