Players: Pat Firth

Patricia “Pat” Firth: Wunderkind striker and pioneering female coach


With Foden’s in 1974. Photo from the NFM #HiddenHistory project

Born: c.1957, Leeds
Position: Forward
Debut: Scotland (H) 23 June 1973
Occupation: Production worker (1976)


A striking prodigy from Leeds who burst on the scene in a flurry of GOALS. She blasted a sensational debut hat-trick – England’s first ever – against Scotland in June 1973. At club level she helped Foden’s wrest the WFA Cup crown away from Southampton in 1974, then returned to Yorkshire with the ever-improving Doncaster Belles in 1976. After nine goals in 11 England caps, a series of debilitating knee injuries saw her retrain as a goalkeeper and turn to coaching. As a pioneering female player/manager she passed her FA Preliminary licence and took both Rowntrees and Bronte to the WFA Cup semi-finals. In January 1987 she was appointed as Yorkshire and Humberside regional coach, the first woman to hold such a senior coaching role within the old WFA setup. She also coached the Welsh national team during the 1980s.

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Prenton Park, Birkenhead 27 April 1991 – Doncaster Belles 0–1 Millwall Lionesses

Yvonne Baldeo hits winner as Lionesses stun Belles and seize Cup


Midfield warriors Gillian Coultard and Debbie Bampton pose with D.J. Bear before locking horns again


Classic match report: Millwall end Belles hoodoo to win their first national Cup


Prenton Park’s first big women’s fixture: this classic Cup final in 1991 between Doncaster Belles and Millwall Lionesses. Odds-on favourites Donny lost out on a fifth win in their eighth final, as Yvonne Baldeo’s 65th-minute winner handed the spoils to first-time finalists Millwall.

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Op-ed: ‘Wiki Geeks’ locked in spiral of failure


Meet the small band of unfortunates who make up ‘Wikiproject Football’ – Wikipedia’s all-male cabal of soccer anoraks.


Perspective and Wikipedia ‘notability’: “These are small, the ones out there are far away”


There is an excellent Wikipedia ‘task force’ specialising in women’s football, with some talented and hard-working contributors. But their aims are frustrated at every turn by the handful of obsessed losers at the main project, who block-vote to rig deletion discussions and skew the inclusion criteria in favour of their pet subjects.
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Match: England 2–0 France, 7 November 1974, Plough Lane

Plough Lane – England 2–0 France

England beat France to secure eighth straight win

Classic match report: Southampton duo Davies and Lopez score to down Les Bleues at Wimbledon

In 1974 the British economy was in the toilet due to crackpot ‘austerity’ measures. Terrorism lurked on the nation’s streets due to disastrous foreign policy failures. While a feeble government colluded with backward Loyalist bigots from Northern Ireland. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose! Still, at least in those days England could beat France at women’s football, which they’ve never managed since…


1. Susan Buckett
2. Margaret Miks
3. Morag Kirkland
4. Wendy Owen
5. Sheila Parker (c)
6. Janet Bagguley
7. Sandra Choat
8. Pat Firth
9. Pat Davies
10. Sue Lopez
11. Jeannie Allott


12. Liz Deighan
13. Carol McCune
14. Lorraine Dobb
15. Annette Matthews
Tommy Tranter

Marie-Louise Butzig .1
Régine Pourveux .2
Nicole Carrie .3
Annie Bataille .4
Marie-Bernadette Thomas .5
Renée Delahaye .6
Dominique Scharo .7
Claudine Dié .8
Michèle Wolf .9
Michèle Bariset .10
Dominique Dewulf .11


Chantal Hockard .12
Véronique Roy .14
Nicole Revet .15
Pierre Geoffroy


The previous night at the “Daily Express National Five-a-Side Championship” France beat their hosts 1–0 in a small-sided exhibition match at Wembley Arena.

At this stage the arena was still known as the “Empire Pool”, although the eponymous swimming pool was long gone – much like the empire itself.

Claudine Dié hit the only goal in front of 9,000 noisy supporters. While agile goalie Marie-Louise Butzig pulled off a string of saves to hand the Gallic quintet the spoils.

Meanwhile, a stunning upset in the men’s event saw Second Division minnows Leyton Orient beat out 15 big names, including Celtic and Manchester United, to win the trophy.

After squeaking through three rounds on penalties, cult centre-half Phil Hoadley became an unlikely final hero. His brace saw off Tottenham and sent long-suffering Os fans into delirium.

BBC cameras and a commentary dream team of Messrs Motson, Davies and Gubba captured the events, as footage went straight out on that night’s Sportsnight at 9.55pm on BBC One.


Enjoyable as the Empire Pool experience must have been for the players, it was a mere amuse-gueule before the main event at Plough Lane in Wimbledon.

A crowd of 2,000 clocked through the turnstiles for some Thursday night football under the floodlights at the home of the non-League Dons.

Not bad, but it was a far cry from the massive numbers pulled in by the Dick, Kerr’s Ladies for their legendary battles with Alice Milliat’s Parisian Mademoiselles some 54 years earlier.

As part of the pre-match festivities, Maurice Chevalier’s ludicrous Thank Heaven for Little Girls blared out over the tannoy.

It was the theme song from the Oscar-winning film, Gigi. To modern eyes the film’s plot resembles a disturbing how-to guide for what would now be called sexual grooming.

Those in attendance, shivering and clutching cups of steamy Bovril, were also treated to telegram messages attributed to stay-away FA bigwig Ted Croker and hapless Don Revie.

Wimbledon board member Alec Fuce was much more supportive than deadbeats Croker and Revie. The diminutive veteran took a shine to the England squad and became an unofficial team mascot.

In fact the WFA were so impressed with the staging that they came back to Wimbledon the following year, for England’s 3–1 defeat by Sweden.

Honorary Secretary Pat Gregory beamed: “The crowds and officials at Plough Lane are a treat to work with”.

By the time England hosted Italy at Plough Lane in November 1977, Wimbledon had been elected to the Football League and were starting out on their journey to becoming the “Crazy Gang”.


In her programme notes Gregory anticipated Paul Hardcastle, pointing out that the average age of the French squad was just 19.

Five French stars listed in the programme – Ghislaine Souëf, Josiane Marichal, Dominique Tedeschi, Armelle Binard and Elisabeth Dejean – were all replaced at late notice.

It wasn’t clear if their absence was down to knocks picked up at the five-a-sides, work commitments, or gamesmanship on the part of coach Pierre Geoffroy.

Geoffroy is a legendary figure in women’s football but his antics during Reims’s tour of Ireland the previous year perhaps marked him out as something of a pantomime dame.

At Plough Lane his Moaning Minnie act commenced early, when a size five match ball came out despite – the French said – a prior agreement to use a smaller size four.

The WFA pointed to the match ball sponsor, Liverpool-based Jack Sharp Sports Ltd. But that did little to stymie Geoffroy’s mutterings of “Perfidious Albion”.

Geoffroy was still sore over the first match 18 months earlier, where England cantered to a 3–0 win in Brion, near Châteauroux, before 3,000 stunned home fans.

A few of the French players, including 29-year-old Reims goalie Marie-Louise Butzig, had also faced an England team at the 1971 FIEFF World Cup in Mexico.

There they beat Harry Batt’s England selection 3–2 in a fifth-place play-off staged at the Azteca in Guadalajara, before the semi-final between Argentina and Italy.

Batt’s players had been roughed up in the group stage matches and he needed to borrow some Mexicans to put out a team.

Nevertheless they twice went ahead through Janice Barton (badminton star Gail Emms’s footballing mum), before being reeled in by the indomitable Gauls.

Pierre Geoffroy had signed Anne O’Brien to be the star player in his all-conquering Reims outfit, but was unable to field the amiable Dubliner in his national team.

He had also snapped up Scots Rose Reilly and Edna Neillis before their moves to Italy. It seems Geoffroy didn’t fancy signing any of the England players, or if he did the WFA warded off his overtures.

Likewise none of England’s clubs had the financial clout to pull off a cross-Channel signing, as Dick, Kerr’s had with goalkeepers Louise Ourry and Carmen Pomiès back in the day.

According to Guardian hack Richard Yallop, Michèle Wolf looked like Bridget Bardot and played like Dave Thomas – a flying winger whose trademark was his rolled down socks and lack of shin pads.

Wolf was eager to make up for lost time. She had missed the Mexican jamboree because she couldn’t get the time off from her job in a greengrocers. Zut alors!


From England’s point of view the match was notable for a trio of debutantes. Resurgent QPR winger Sandra Choat started the match, then Carol Thomas and Liz Deighan came off the bench.

As a 15-year-old Amersham Angels player, Surrey-born Choat made it to the final probables-v-possibles trial for the first England team in 1972 only to narrowly miss the cut.

Thomas and Deighan became England legends over the ensuing decade and were both part of Martin Reagan’s Euro 84 squad, finishing gallant runners-up to Sweden.

England’s other substitutes listed in the programme were kids – Carr Fastener’s Lorraine Dobb (Hanson) and Annette Matthews of Wardon. Presumably Matthews was a back-up goalie.

Four members of the squad, including captain Sheila Parker, were from the Sandbach-based works club Fodens.

Under the shrewd management of Eric Aldersay, Fodens had famously wrested that year’s WFA Cup from Southampton, who also contributed four players to England.

Lack of training time with his squad was Tommy Tranter’s bugbear. On the eve of the match there was a brief get-together at the National Recreation Centre at Crystal Palace.


Slick England quickly seized control, as jinking winger Choat “caused havoc with her tricky wing play” according to the Daily Express report.

But it was effervescent Fodens midfielder Jeannie Allott who laid on both England’s goals. A “female Tony Currie”, purred Richard Yallop of The Guardian.

On 11 minutes she nodded on a through ball to Pat “Thunder” Davies, who scampered clear of the French defence and coolly slotted past Butzig.

Four minutes after the break Allott surged to the byline and swung in a cross. When Butzig dropped the ball, Lopez was on hand to thump in England’s second.

The French would grow sick of the sight of Allott – she later turned up playing for HOLLAND and single-handedly scuppered the French Euro 87 qualifying campaign.

In 1985 she marked her Dutch debut with the only goal in Leeuwarden, then hit a hat-trick in the return; a 5–3 Dutch win in Cambrai.

Anyway, England survived a late penalty shout when ref R.B. Register waved away theatrical appeals from Pierre Geoffroy and his beleaguered charges.

The impressive Lionesses held on to secure the win, their eighth on the trot. Little did Tranter’s troops know this would be England’s last win over France for at least 43 years!

No less a figure than Jimmy Hill was moved to pen an effusive News of the World column, praising the skill on show and the balance in Tranter’s 4–3–3.

Match: England 8–0 Scotland, 23 June 1973, Manor Park

Manor Park 23 June 1973 – England 8–0 Scotland


England thrash Scotland in first ever home match


Classic match report: Lionesses rattle in EIGHT as roof falls in on sweltered Scots



England’s first official home match took place in the rarefied environs of Manor Park, Nuneaton on 23 June 1973. With England leading 2–0 at half-time, the peely-wally Scots ran out of puff. A final score of 8–0 remains their record defeat. Pat Firth’s debut hat-trick, braces from Pat Davies and moonlighting Scot Paddy McGroarty, and a late finish from sub Eileen Foreman undid Scotland, whose captain Mary Anderson had to go off at half-time.

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Report: Scotland’s moral right to the Women’s FA Cup

The real story of Eric Worthington and the Women’s FA Cup


Annual Scotland–England match trophy was repurposed as English WFA Cup


Women’s Football Archive sounds the pibroch for footballing justice


Last hurrah: Eric Worthington’s Cup gets its swansong in 1997


England’s first ‘official’ match on home soil took place in the rarefied environs of Manor Park, Nuneaton on 23 June 1973. The failure to secure a Football League ground for the event – even in the off-season – was a measure of the lasting sabotage wrought on women’s football by the FA’s 1921 ban. Opponents Scotland had been edged out 3–2 in the teams’ first fixture the previous November. In contrast to that blizzard by the Clyde, Nuneaton was in the midst of a scorching heat wave. With England leading 2–0 at half-time, the roof fell in on the peely-wally Scots. A final score of 8–0 remains their record defeat. Pat Firth’s debut hat-trick, braces from Pat Davies and moonlighting Scot Paddy McGroarty, and a late finish from sub Eileen Foreman undid Scotland, whose captain Mary Anderson had to go off at half-time.

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Report: Suffragettes of Football, National Football Museum, Manchester, 7 March 2017

Or, England’s Lost Generation tells us what it was really like


Our special correspondent ‘An Audience Observer’ writes from the front line of women’s football history…



As part of International Women’s Week, the National Football Museum and the BBC teamed up to present a discussion panel with regard to the pioneers of the women’s game. The list of attendees to the panel were Pat Gregory, Carol Thomas, Liz Deighan, Kerry Davis and Rachel Brown-Finnis, ably led by the BBC’s Eilidh Barbour.


The event opened with a short BBC film outlining the early history of the women’s game including contributions from the indomitable Gregory, Sue Lopez, Sylvia Gore and the champion of the women’s game of the day, in the form of Lawrie McMenemy, who coined the phrase the “Suffragettes of football”.
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Match: England 1–0 Sweden (3–4 PSO), 27 May 1984, Kenilworth Road

Kenilworth Road 27 May 1984 – England 1–0 Sweden (3–4 on penalties)


Linda Curl’s cracker levels the tie but Swedes edge it on penalties


Classic match report: Sweden win the first ever UEFA Women’s Euro, but brave England push them all the way


Photo from the much-missed


Women’s Football Archive Exclusive: the definitive account of England’s Euro 84 final clash with Sweden. Clunkily entitled the UEFA Competition For National Representative Women’s Teams, the inaugural continental showpiece went down to the wire in torrential rain at Luton’s Kenilworth Road. Playing 35 minutes each-way with a size four ball, the sides met in front of a record crowd at Sweden’s national stadium, the Ullevi in Gothenburg, two weeks previously. England’s gutsy 1–0 defeat left things delicately poised for this return match in Luton…

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EURO 2017 Blog: Will Scotland be Aye Ready?

Crumbs from the funding table too little, too late for Scots soccer hopefuls


Scotland women face an uphill task at the 2017 Euro Championships in the Netherlands


Embed from Getty Images


CARDS ON THE TABLE: we desperately want Scotland’s women to succeed at Euro 17. Okay, almost our entire knowledge of Scotland and Scottish culture comes from Irvine Welsh novels, Celtic FC books and online football forums. But no-one would be happier than Women’s Football Archive to see the Tartan Army triumphantly “giving it laldy” to the strains of their anthem Bits N Pieces in Holland this summer.

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When Martin Reagan went in to bat for women’s football

Martin Reagan (1924–2016): The man who stepped up to save women’s football in England


Women’s football lost one of our own with Martin Reagan’s recent passing, but his deeds will never be forgotten




In May 1984 the England women’s football team manager Martin Reagan returned from Gothenburg with a creditable 1–0 defeat for his team, and a blueprint for soccer success. Ex-pro Reagan knew exactly what England needed to do to reel in their continental rivals: copy the Super Swedes. In the days before women’s football was trendy he proudly shouted his support from the rooftops. But his sterling efforts were thwarted at every turn, by an unholy alliance of Football Association intransigence and – yes – sex bias, which was still firmly rooted in 20th Century British life.

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