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.