Martin Reagan: women’s football boss was D-Day hero

Martin Reagan, manager of the England women’s football team between October 1979 and December 1990, is a World War Two hero.  Tyneside-born Reagan turned 90 last month and has led a life straight from the pages of Boy’s Own. While today’s feckless teens spend their time sniffing “meow meow” or filming “happy slappings” on their mobile telephones, Reagan showed the stuff to be made a Tank Commander at age 19. The date 20 October 1944 will be forever etched in his soul:  at a farm outside Ijzendijke, The Netherlands, a massive explosion killed more than 40 British and Canadian men.


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Players: Jeannie Allott

Jeannie Allott


Born: c.1957, Crewe

Position: Left-winger

Debut: Scotland (A) 18 November 1972

Occupation: Schoolgirl (1972)


Cheshire soccer prodigy who cut her teeth with Fodens, embarked on a Dutch Odyssey and found success with TWO national teams

Jean Allott, 8, a Crewe, England schoolgirl, scored two goals in her debut at center forward for the Wistaston Green Primary School boys’ soccer team. Said her headmaster, “She passes intelligently with her left foot and goes into the tackle as hard as any of the boys.”

Faces in the Crowd, Sports Illustrated, 29 November 1965


When the Schools FA ban-hammer fell the following year, nine-year-old Allott was phlegmatic: “It’s just not my day today. I love football and I hope my headmaster will still let me play in friendly matches”.


Allott had reportedly been playing for Fodens for eight years when selected to the first England team in 1972, but was only 16. Branded “a real livewire” character by Wendy Owen (2005), she was the team’s joker.


Sue Lopez (1997) described “a phenomenally fast, strong, tricky left-winger.”


Some sources credit a goal to Allott in England’s famous 3–2 debut win in Greenock. The footage shows Allott collecting a partly-cleared corner and hoisting an effort from the left hand angle of the penalty area, which is spilled over the line by Scotland goalkeeper Janie Houghton. Pat Davies was also in close attendance but the England players ran to congratulate Allott.


It is now thought Allott was only 15 years old at the time of England’s first match.


Original England boss Eric Worthington told the FA News in March 1973: “This girl has it all, she’s good with her head, she has perfected the chest trap and her work rate is unbelievable.”


Worthington also claimed that Frank Blunstone (who knew a thing or two about outside-lefts) had tried to sign Allott while back in his native Crewe taking in a schools match. Only to be told: “He’s a girl!”


In England’s fourth match, under the floodlights at Bath City’s Twerton Park, Allott scored the first in a 5–1 win over Northern Ireland. She swept home Pat Firth’s cross after six minutes.


Allott was part of Fodens’ famous 1974 WFA Cup winning team, beating Southampton 2–1 in the final. She was always the journo’s favourite with photogenic long blonde hair.


Ahead of the November 1974 France game, a sexist Daily Mirror article branded Allott: “one of the new breed of soccer girls – leggy, pretty and with surprising skills”.


For her part Allott declared: “Nothing will make me give up football. I’ll still play even when I’m married and have loads and loads of kids!”


She continued her footballing education in signing for Dutch outfit Zwart-Wit ’28 Rotterdam in 1976. Southampton’s Pat Chapman took over on England’s left wing.


Fodens had developed some sort of tie-up with the Z.W. Rotterdam club and they visited each other on various occasions in the mid 1970’s.


In the 1987 Women’s FA Cup final programme, Doncaster Belles’ Lorraine “Polly” Young name-checked Allott as the best women’s player she had ever seen.


The Netherlands:


In the Netherlands Allott found League and Cup success with Delft-based KFC ’71 during the 1980s.


The 20 May 1988 edition of Leidse Courant hailed KFC ’71 star “Gini Alliot” as she scored one and made one against eternal rivals Ter Leede, securing the West II regional title.


She made such an impression that Oranje boss Bert van Lingen handed her a national team call-up.


Inevitably, she was brilliant and hit eight goals in 12 caps from 1985 to 1987.


Allott stunned France with the only goal in her March 1985 debut. Then blasted a hat-trick in the return match that October, as the Dutch left Cambrai with a 5–3 win.


Six of her 12 caps came in Euro 87 qualifiers, so it is not clear if UEFA were unaware of her earlier appearances for England, or had granted dispensation.


Shortly before crossing the North Sea, Allott played against the Dutch in England’s 2–1 win at Borough Park, Blackpool, in May 1976.


The birth-date on her Dutch FA (KNVB) records suggest she had turned 16 the day before her England debut in 1972.