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A whole new ball game?
By David Andrew Wardle Posted in Blog on 10th October 2021 0 Comments 3 min read
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When I saw the participants coming out of the tunnel for last night’s match my first thought was, about time.

England won 5 – 0 yesterday against Andorra. Nothing surprising about that. They were expected to and it was only a matter of how many times the team could penetrate a jam packed defence. Nothing to write home about, you might say. It was fully written up in the papers this morning but I was wondering why there was a full page article about the referee.

Yes, it was the first time the mens’ England team had been officiated by a woman but do we need an article to highlight it as though it was a curiousity? All that was needed to be said was that the referee and her assistants had a good game, and they did. They were there to do a job and they did it. In fact, I spotted one of the assistants sprinting down the line with her flag keeping pace with a ball that was heading to the corner flag. She caught up with it before the player pursuing it did and from a similar starting point.

The fight for women to be regarded the same as men has been going on for nearly 200 years and it should have stopped decades ago. Gender should not matter these days and it should not be so suprising as to be commented on. One can either do something or not do something, irrespective of gender.

It is over ten years now since two guys were dismissed from their jobs after comments made of a female assistant. Personally, even though I did not hear the comments I was shocked at the time. I always like to see Sian Massey-Ellis running the line. I have never seen her have a bad game.

Female football pundits are now prevalent too which should also be no surprise. Alex Scott is my favourite and does a great job.

Now a little anecdote. Not long after I was exiled to London in 1996, I started playing football on Sunday afternoons in Hyde Park with a group of guys I met at London Village. One afternoon, not many had turned up and we were only playing 3 a-side. This girl asked if she could join in. She was Norwegian, I remember, because she asked me what I thought of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as a player – I was wearing my United top (my nickname given to me by the guys I played with was Sheringham – apparently I looked a little like him at the time and I was a goal scorer). She was dressed in jeans and hiking boots and she ran rings around all of us. She had just moved to England and wanted to know of any women’s teams. I only knew of Arsenal ladies at the time. I always wonder if she ever made it.

It’s not a whole new ball game, it’s just football. To be played, enjoyed and officiated by both sexes. And that’s a fact!

 

 

 

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Andorra England Sian Massey-Ellis women referee


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