My Top 10 games attended in 2013

My number 1 choice game for 2013 would France v England at the Euros 2013 but unfortunately I did not attend it  and had to watch it on tv…So here are the top 10 games I have attended in 2013.

10. Arsenal v Glasgow City UEFA WCL 3-0 last home game for many Arsenal girls, superb attacking display.

9. Glasgow City v Arsenal UEFA WCL 2-3 last Arsenal game for many players, an entertaining game played under horrible weather. A very competitive game in the battle of Britain.

8. France v Germany International friendly 3-3 another entertaining game with loads of goals. Although it is has to be said, due to defensive mistakes.

7. Liverpool v Arsenal FA Women’s Cup SF 1-2 game played at Anfield , mainly known for an Arsenal player playing with 3 different shirt numbers during the game,s omething that does not happen very often.

6. Montpellier v Arras Pre-season friendly. 7-0 this one was very interesting because they allowed me to watch their training seession which was done behind closed door and to watch the game from the team’s bench alongside the substitutes.

5. France v England UEFA U19 Group stage 0-0 a very tight and competitive game in LLanelli, a defensive England  team and an attacking French team that did not manage to breach the England defense.

4. France v Germany UEFA U19 Semi-final 2-1  A game that had everything : superb goals, red card, late goals, penalty and a lot of suspens. Youth football at the highest level.

3. Bristol v Everton FA WSL 4-3 Season opener at Stoke Gifford Stadium  a firework of attacking football and great long range goals.

2. England v Spain UEFA U17 Semi-final 0-3 a constrasting opposition of style between a hard working and powerful England team and a Spanish team with a strong technical side and superb on the ball.

1. Arsenal v Blackburn FA U17 National Cup 3-1 A hat-trick from Carla Humphrey and a finally  trophy that eluded most the players in the previous season after a penalty shoot-out defeat to Chelsea


FA WSL 1 &2 Season 2014 fixtures postponements

To keep track on all the mess created by games postponed, I will update this post with all the postponements and the replay dates. Current count 0 games postponed as we are 4 months away from the kick-off but there are already suspicions about at least one game off on the 9th/10th of April

Update 26/12 Current level 0 maximum fixtures postponed 0 expected fixtures postponed 1-3 minimum

FA WSL 1 : 0

FA WSL 2 : 0

How many games postponed for the opening fixtures of the FA WSL 1& 2 ?

I recommend you look at the shekicks calendar that you can buy here  :

The main information is that the FA WSL 1&2 openers are set up on the 9th and 10th of April.

Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland have FIFA World Cup qualifiers on those dates. Last season, there were 3 NIR, 6 SCO and 18 WAL players regisered in the FA WSL

There are also the U19 elite round final games on those dates with Scotland, England, Republic of Ireland all involved. The U19 tournament is open to players born in 1995 and later and there are many in FA WSL 1&2 .

A reminder of the FA rules :

Clubs shall support The Football Association in relation to International Matches in accordance with the provisions of The Football Association Rules.
A Club having 3 players or more selected for International Duty by their National Association for Under 19 UEFA and FIFA competitive matches may request a postponement of its League fixture provided at least 10 days’ notice is given to the League Secretary in writing.
If 1 player is selected and that player is the goalkeeper, a Club could make a similar request for the postponement of its League fixture. This will only apply to Under 19 UEFA and FIFA competitive matches which are played within the FIFA Women’s International Match

There are 15 world cup qualifiers games played on the 9/10th of April, it means 30 teams on those dates and the chance of having any FAWSL  team with no goalkeeper or less than 3 players in any team out on international duty is quite non existent. If you add the 12 U19 Elite Round game where players will also be called up, how many FA WSL 1 & 2 games will be postponed on the opening days. Answer on a postcard to the FA please. This is just a joke.

The FA would never plan a men’s Premier League gameday on the same day as a world cup qualifier…

The FA WSL 1 transfer window so far

As a follow-up to my post in November, let’s have a look at what happened in the last month and a half. The teams  are ranked from the most active to the least.

Manchester City started to bring in plenty of signings as the squad they had  in the Women Premier League National Division would not have been probably good enough to compete at the top of the WSL1. They have signed 4 England internationals and expect a couple more to come soon. Overall they have made 5 signings so far : 1 goalkeeper Karen Bardsley, 2 defenders Stephanie  Houghton and Stephanie Marsh, 1 midfield Jill Scott and 1 forward Toni Duggan.

Champions Liverpool have rebuild last season and now are bringing a couple of quality players to complement their squad. Versatile player Martha Harris has been signed to cover the full back positions as she can play on both wings. Gemma Davison has been signed from Arsenal probably to replace Louise Fors. Goalkeepers also need to be signed as Quantrill and Laws have now left.

Chelsea have signed Birmingham duo Rachel Williams and Laura Bassett, had a few players on loan/trial at the Mobcast Cup, Allie Long, Meaghan Sargeant, Emma Wilhelmsson and 2 Japanese players Aya Noguchi and Mai Konno. More signing are expected soon including Korean player Ji So-Yun from INAC Kobe who beat Chelsea in the Mobcast cup final.

Notts County are rebuilding with a lot of players gone (8), they have made a big signing in prising Ellen White from Arsenal and surely will add a lot more to the squad that performed well below expectations last season.

Arsenal have signed Siobhan Chamberlain but lost 5 players so far and probably a couple more are on their way out. Many players are expected to come from Scotland, Danemark, Holland, and Japan. The big question is how quick the team will gel ? Liverpool did not take long last year as they were training daily.

Everton have also signed 1 player Abby Pope from SC Albion and managed to re-sign 16 players from last season having lost Jill Scott and Toni Duggan to Man City.

Birmingham have signed no one so far, also word is  going round that a midfielder has already been signed. Williams and Bassett departed after running their contracts out.

Bristol have lost Mark Sampson and Siobhan Chamberlain and signed no one so far. They might loose a few more players in the future.

Overall, the next 3 months will be interesting before the transfer window close and we should expect a lot of signings from abroad and between WSL 1 and WSL 2 teams with a few girls signed from the Women Premier League as well.

Analysing Mark Sampson’s 1st squad


Let’s start with those who missed the cut :

Rachel Yankey and Katie Chapman have been left out and available for selection, the door remains open for them. They certainly have the quality to be selected in the squad.

Casey Stoney and Kelly Smith are not fit and therefore not selected. They both need to be fit and therefore will be considered for selection.

The main question for those 4 players is : Will the younger players perform well enough to keep them out of the squad for the Cyprus Cup and the World Cup qualifiers ? With the quality in the 30 players squad selected I am not sure they will come back and in preparation for 2015, that would not be a bad choice.

Jess Clarke is not even mentioned by Mark Sampson despite being in the last 4 tournament squad played by England, ( with Team GB as a reserve) .  It probably means he does not rate her as much as other wingers while Hope Powell did. Davison for example must be  ahead of her as pure winger and you can understand why.

Rachel Williams has not been mentioned either, she has not played in the 2nd half of the WSL season and now moved to Chelsea, so

Claire Rafferty is obviously coming back from her ACL injury and will surely be in contention when fit as there are not many quality left footed left back in England.

Carly Telford is not mentioned either, we will need to see hwo she eprforms with her new  (un-named yet)  team.

The newbies

Gilly Flaherty : As an Arsenal Ladies regular and therefore extremely biaised, I would say that call up is 2-3 years overdue. I have seen her battle against French, German and Swedish teams in the Champions League and reach a level that none of the HP regulars has reached at the time.

Jemma Rose : Another young center back that came through the England youth system. Very strong in 1 v1 duels, great jump and heading and a powerful shoot.

Corinne Yorston : back into the squad after a long time, had an excellent season for her club Bristol.

Alex Greenwood : a rare left footed left back, she came through the England youth ranks, she has all the attribute of the modern left-back a rare quality among English players. Rafferty is similar to her and that’s about it, that’s surely why Liverpool went abroad for a left back last year.

Lianne Sanderson : back into the squad after a long exile, her last tournament was in 2009, if you don’t remember her Arsenal, she couldn’t get into the England 11 despite scoring 50+ and 40 + goals in successive seasons. She has done well in the USA.

Demi Stokes : came through the England youth ranks and was a forward with Sunderland, named as a defender in the squad. Currently studying in the USA

Rachel Daly : Came through the England youth theams as well. She has scored 23 goals this year in the NCAA division and is the top scorer. Selected as a defender not as a center forward though ? Another girl studying in the USA.

Gemma Davison : Not a proper newbie as she has one cap, another one with an overdue call-up. Considering she has won every major title in England a number of times, plus the Champions League (or UEFA Cup at the time) and the WPS title and not being called up by Hope Powell has always been a bizzare choice when you could see the calibre of the players called-up instead.

Jodie Taylor : A successful goalscorer in different league all over the world, her call-up could and should have happened a long time ago

Natasha Dowie :  Not a newbie but as seen on the picture, she has not participated so far in a senior tournament despite her goalscoring prowess and different tactical profile.You do wonder why Powell used to have 4 or 5 identikit CF and none with a different profile to bring on and offer a different option up front ?

The experienced players

6 tournaments : Rachel Brown-Finnis, Alex Scott, Anita Asante, Fara Williams, E Aluko, Karen Carney

5 tournaments : Karen Bardsley, Jill Scott

4 tournaments : Siobhan Chamberlain

3 tournaments :  Laura Bassett, Sophie Bradley, Stephanie Houghton, Dunia Susi, Ellen White

1 tournament : Gemma Bonner, Lucia Bronze, Jade Moore, Jordan Nobbs, Toni Duggan

It is also very interesting ot note that Mark Sampson said  “We’re looking to appoint a [goalkeeping] coach for the first team but also a full-time goalkeeping coach who will be responsible for every woman goalkeeper in the UK. It’s a position we want to develop world class players in.”

I would think Siobhan Chamberlain is overdue a proper chance and a long run after her exceptional 2011 and 2013 FA WSL seasons while Brown-Finnis and Bardsley have had many years and games under Hope Powell and  under GK coach Keith Rees  and have consistently delivered inconsistent performances.

FA WPL to disappear at the end of the season

To understand what is happening, having a good look at James Prickett’s pyramid is a good start :

Until 2011, the FA Women’s Premier League was the top division with the Northern and Southern division steps 2, then came the combination and the regional leagues. The FA WSL started in 2011 with 8 franchises selected on marketing and money mainly. Then in 2014, the FA WSL 2 wil start and the FA has decided to make a huge change in the winter football.

2014/15 will see The FA oversee a restructure of the women’s leagues

As previously communicated earlier this year, The FA WSL will expand to two divisions from 2014, and The FA has been reviewing the entire pyramid for women’s football in consultation with all stakeholders.

The FA absolutely recognises the importance of having a thriving winter pyramid in place to support the player pathway and ensure there is a league structure that can co-exist with significant changes at the elite level of the game.

From the 2014/2015 season onwards, it has been agreed that The FAWPL and the four Combination Leagues will amalgamate to form the Women’s Championship League, supported by The FA.

The change in league name is to ensure that there is a clear tier structure within the women’s football pyramid that can be understood by all stakeholders within the game, given the transformation of the pyramid since The FA WSL launched in 2011.

The new Championship League, which will become the 3rd and 4th tier of women’s football after The FA WSL 1 and The FA WSL 2, will receive an annual grant of £90,000 from The FA, accessed by a League Development Plan. In addition, The FA will also fund a League Secretary and a Referees Appointment Secretary.

The FA has invested significantly into women’s football with the introduction of The FA WSL and last year launched the ‘Game Changer’ five-year plan to help develop, support and grow the entire women’s game.

The FA has communicated these new league plans, following a lengthy consultation process, with all relevant stakeholders including all FAWPL Clubs and the Combination league representatives.

This process began in November 2012 and at the FAWPL SGM in March 2013 all clubs bar one, voted in favour of the proposal. All Combination League Management Committees consulted their clubs and the four Leagues were unanimously in favour.

A joint-liaison committee of FAWPL and Combination League representatives has been working together with The FA for a number of months to develop the new structure.

A member of The FA Women’s Football Committee will also be appointed to the new Championship League’s Management Committee to ensure FA support and guidance is ongoing in all league matters.

An interim Women’s Championship League Management Committee will also be elected by clubs in February 2014.

Then you hear about clubs being unhappy in the Telegraph article :

FA faces ‘worthless’ women’s football revolt

The Football Association is facing a revolt from Women’s Premier League clubs who claim they are being, “cast aside as worthless”, following the decision to cut funding and amalgamate the WPL with the Combination leagues in the wake of setting up a second level of the Super League.

While an annual total of £1.3 million is set to be invested in the two divisions of the now 18-club WSL, funding of what was £145,000 per annum spread across the 22 WPL clubs is to be dropped to £90,000pa to cover the 70 clubs that will make up what will become ‘The Women’s Championship supported by the FA’.

A ‘Save our WPL’ action group has been set up and the co-ordinator Jack Lewis, in a strongly worded email to clubs and players, reckoned that the amalgamation, “will not only set back women’s football in England but may even be a death knell for many existing clubs”.

It was with some surprise that Kelly Simmons, the FA’s head of the National Game and Women’s Football, heard of the action group’s claims. “The first I knew about this was through social media,” Simmons said. “No one has contacted me and I find it a little strange because, when we discussed the new structure with the clubs in March, all but one of them voted in favour.”

Lewes manager Jacqui Agnew, an assenter at that March meeting, said: “I voted ‘yes’ but the FA presentation was like, ‘accept this or we will pull everything out.’ There was no real consultation, and if I was voting on the proposals again I would be against them.

“The Super League is great for the profile of the women’s game and I’m all for it, but I don’t think its expansion, and the money going into it, should be to the detriment of WPL clubs.

“It takes £15,000-20,000 a year to run a club like ours and the £1,250 we’re now going to be getting will just about pay for travel expenses on one long away trip.

“There also doesn’t seem to be a time-line on the funding; so in four or five years’ time will it be gone completely?”

The Conservative MP Tracey Crouch, a qualified FA coach who runs the girls team Meridian in her Chatham & Aylesford constituency, is supporting the action group. “There’s a lack of clarity about what the FA are trying to achieve,” Crouch said. “I don’t think that clubs fully understood the consequences of the re-structuring when they met the FA in March.

“They feel there’s not a fair and level playing field and I think it’s now essential and urgent that the FA sits down with the clubs for further discussions.”

Simmons responded: “I would welcome a meeting. As well as funding for the new league we are proving administrative support, and we are certainly not casting aside WPL clubs – we want the new league to prosper.”

If a meeting takes place then Simmons will have to firmly stand the FA’s corner, the governing body’s ‘Game-changer’ initiative earlier this year – setting out plans for the future of the women’s game – having met with initial approval but is now facing questions at club level.

The Lewis email included the words: “We have extremely passionate people spitting feathers who have been running and sponsoring these [WPL] clubs for years who feel – quite rightly – that due to the elitism that the FA has endowed upon the WSL that their Gamechanger is actually a Gamedestroyer, at least at the level of the top winter league for women’s football in this country.”

If you want more information on the gamechanger 5 year plan, it is located here :

You can see that on page 9 the elite pathway and the pyramid progression Coe/FA WSL reserves/ FA WSL teams has de facto excluded those former WPL teams and players and relegated them to recreational football, creating a huge quality gap between those in the pathway and those who will be out.

The “save our WPL” campaign is up and running and their website is here  :

There is no doubt about the elite program and the clear objective of feeding the England teams at every level U15 to Seniors although the reduction in the number of Center of Excellence a few seasons had some detrimental effects but it is another subject…

If someone can explain the need to separate the elite and the rest in such a way that you feel there is the pacific ocean wide gap between those 2 integral parts of women’s football, answer on a postcard please.


An addendum to that post is the tables at the end of the FA WPL season 2009/10, the year before the FA WSL was formed

National Division

1. Arsenal* 2. Everton* 3. Chelsea* 4. Leeds 5. Sunderland** 6. Doncaster** 7. Blackburn 8. Millwall** 9. Watford **10. Birmingham* 11. Forest 12. Bristol*

Northern Division

1. Liverpool* 2. Lincoln *

Southern Division

1. Barnet** 2. Reading **

* now in WSL 1

**now in WSL 2