Player: Linda Coffin

Linda Coffin


Linda Coffin at the Dell, 1978
Linda Coffin at the Dell, 1978


Born: c.1955, Portsmouth
Position: Centre-back
Debut: Wales (H) 22 May 1976
Occupation: Section manager (1976), Chargehand (1982)


Linda “The Rock” Coffin: One of England’s finest ever defenders, who backstopped the great Southampton WFC team of her era to four WFA Cup wins.


Keen hockey player Coffin joined Southampton WFC in 1974, as an 18-year-old employed at the Plessey factory in Fareham. Her dad Noel also took over as Saints gaffer.


Southampton, winners of the first three WFA Cups, were rebuilding having been deposed by Fodens in the 1974 final.


Coffin proved a tall and elegant centre-half with good timing in the tackle and capable of playing out from the back. Her aerial ability was never in doubt.


With Coffin at the heart of their defence rejuvenated Saints recaptured the WFA Cup in 1974–75, thumping first-time finalists Warminster 4–2 at Dunstable Town.


She picked up a second winner’s medal the following year, in a 2–1 extra-time win over QPR in front of BBC cameras. Highlights were shown before the men’s final – won by Southampton FC.


Coffin’s performances had not gone unnoticed and England boss Tommy Tranter called her up to the Pony Home Championship squad in May 1976.


In the opening game against Wales at The Eyrie, Bedford, Coffin won her first cap at the age of 20. She was drafted in alongside Wendy Owen, as England’s original captain Sheila Parker dropped out.


Carol McCune (Thomas) inherited the armband. But legend Parker was far from finished and later returned to partner Coffin after Owen’s injury-induced retirement from international football.


Coffin instantly impressed, her refined style complementing the more agricultural Owen. She soon had the respect of her team-mates as England carried off the trophy.


She went on England’s tour of Italy the following month, which resulted in two bruising defeats (2–0 and 2–1) on bone hard pitches in Rome and Cesena.


Italian FA records attribute England’s goal to Coffin, but Wendy Owen’s (2005) recollection was that Elaine “Baddy” Badrock scored.


Another excellent performance in England’s 2–1 win over Wales in October 1976, saw Coffin nicknamed “The Rock” by Lionesses team-mates.


In 1977 Southampton lost the Cup final 1–0 to sworn rivals QPR. Coffin then sent shockwaves through women’s football when she sensationally quit Saints for their Cup final conquerors.


She played for The Hoops AGAINST Southampton in the 1978 WFA Cup final, but finished on the wrong end of an 8–2 worrying.


Pat Davies, the smallest player on the pitch, headed in Southampton’s opening goal from a corner. Sue Lopez drilled in a second, before Pat Chapman famously ran amok – netting a record six goals.


To make matters worse, 1978 saw Southampton finally scoop the Treble of WFA Cup, Home Counties League and Home Counties League Cup after years of trying. And they beat out Coffin’s QPR in all three!


By the time of England’s 3–0 win over Belgium at the Dell on 31 October 1978, Coffin was a Southampton player again.


She got her mitts back on the WFA Cup that season when Southampton edged out Lowestoft 1–0 at Waterlooville.


1980 was the first time that the WFA Cup final didn’t feature Southampton — the tenth year of the competition.


Coffin made amends the following season as Southampton won back their crown in style, beating 1980 winners St Helens 4–2 at a hostile Knowsley Road.


She was selected by Martin Reagan for England’s historic 1981 tour of Japan, starting both of England’s games in the Far East.


When England began their first UEFA campaign, against Northern Ireland at Crewe on 19 September 1982, Coffin had 28 caps.1


Coffin and striker Tracy Doe were dropped for the game in Belfast on 13 May 1983, for what Reagan dubbed “experimental reasons”.


This meant she did not feature in either of England’s semi-finals versus Denmark or the final defeat by Sweden.


When Southampton WFC folded in 1986, Coffin was among an exodus of players to Red Star Southampton.


She was not listed as part of the 1991–92 Red Star team who finished runners-up to Donny Belles in that season’s WFA Cup and inaugural National League.


Sue Lopez’s women’s football bible Women on the Ball (1997) reported that Coffin was still with Red Star (by then rebranded as Southampton Saints) as late as 1996.




Evergreen Coffin was far from finished. In February 1999 she transferred from Brighton and Hove Albion, who she’d joined from Saints, to Reading Royals.


Reading’s player-manager was Coffin’s ex-Saints pal, Republic of Ireland international Geraldine Williams.


For some reason Coffin’s Reading debut was delayed until the following season, by which time the club had been promoted to the top flight for the first time.


Perhaps marking herself out as the Pietro Vierchowod or Al Finucane of women’s football, she rolled back the years and served up a vintage, faultless performance against Liverpool on the opening day of the 1999/00 campaign.




Coffin executes a blockbuster challenge against France in Longjumeau, February 1977. Note the French player resplendent in official Adidas kit, as worn by Platini and pals at the following year’s World Cup in Argentina.


England’s kit was donated to the Women’s Football Association by Banbury Sportswear — it bore no relation to the natty Admiral kit worn by the FA’s underachieving men.



1. According to the match programme. A Millwall Lionesses match programme versus Red Star Southampton on 25 September 1994 listed “Lynne Coffin” with 19 England caps and six FA Cup winner’s medals.

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