…But without the Terrys there’d be no Hopes!
Or, Standing on the shoulders of giants
LOOK at this video from the Women’s Euro 1984 final. MovementSoccer deserves thanks for posting it – as well as the whole final it came from – on YouTube here.
This was a mightily big game in English football history. It’s heady stuff but only a tiny subset of soccer anoraks will appreciate it now: it’s a niche within a niche! Pearls before swine! I get all that.
Also, poking fun at England goalie Terry Wiseman’s kicking is only a little joke. Some gentle joshing. After all, irreverence (“bantz”) is the whole currency of “teh Interwebz”. I get that too.
There is a serious point in here somewhere though. And not just the point that Wiseman produced a string of top saves in that very game. Saves that Hope Solo herself might be proud of.
Watch that whole match and fair’s fair: no-one on the pitch in 1984 could keep goal like modern great Hope Solo. Nor could they run like a Lotta Schelin, or shoot like a Lotta Schelin. Or Alex Morgan, or Christen Press.
Nobody was as half as strong as Abby Wambach. I remember the USA playing at Leyton Orient in 2011, in the tunnel pre-match they were geeing themselves up by whooping and hollering in the American style.
Then Abby high-fived a flunkey and damn near tore the guy’s arm off!
Er… anyway, in 1984 these players were out there, doing it. Making the sacrifices necessary to get these tournaments off the ground.
They had the dedication to train in their own time at their own cost. Taking unpaid leave from their jobs to proudly pull on their country’s shirt.
Their reward? Often sneering derision. Sometimes even medieval ignorance and bigotry. Hostile governing bodies wishing they’d all just disappear.
The “USWNT” (if you must) didn’t start until the following year. England – Wiseman and all – bashed them 3–1 in the teams’ first meeting.
We all know the USA kicked on from there and started winning everything in sight. But remember that without the likes of Terry Wiseman this would never have happened. There’d be no tournaments to win. No-one to beat. No-one who cared enough to watch!
Olympic gold medalist Hope Solo trains full-time, has the benefit of modern sports science and is at leisure to spend all day in the gym. Of course she can kick the ball further!
Probably even a size four miniature like the one Wiseman was trying to adjust to in the vid.
Probably even on a windy day in Gothenburg (where Solo once spent a season) with the sun in her eyes.
Commercial Artist Wiseman got to the top in two careers and now lives in America herself, working for Disney Pixar. Her footballing achievements remain criminally unrecognised at home.
But for the likes of Wiseman and Elisabeth Leidinge down the other end, the ones who got the ball rolling, every incremental success that women’s football gets is part of their legacy.
So let’s lay off the mickey taking. Or if we can’t lay off it, at least give it some context.
Now look here, Hope Solo is a great champion and would have hit the big time in whichever direction she went.
But if Terry Wiseman’s generation hadn’t paved the way, who’s to say it would have been in saving soccer balls?
It might have been in chucking a ball into a hoop. Or hitting a little ball with a bat. Or leaving the ball out altogether and running round a track.
It might have come in the national sport: dressing up as a sofa and excitedly running into other people dressed as sofas.
Where, you may ask, would the USWNT be then?
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