So, the FIFA Women’s World Cup

Earlier on Allendale area notices, someone asked which pub was best for viewing of the footy. I don’t know if they were after the FIFA Women’s World Cup or not, but I have to say that the current action is thrilling.

Imagine the scene in a local pub: a group of men are loudly enjoying their beer, while watching the wide-screen telly and exhorting England’s Parris, White or Bronze to score one for Queen and country — their partners, meanwhile, mostly female, are calmly explaining the off-sides rule, or why un-natural arm movement in the box in the context of VAR-identified hand ball should elicit a penalty decision. Raise a chuckle? It could be happening tonight on a screen near you, as England’s women play Argentina, in a match everyone assumes will be a walk-over. Come on you Lionesses!

So women’s football is hitting the big time this year — my brother in Canada emails me to exclaim over Canada’s 1-0 victory over Cameroon, but at the same time everyone commiserates with the Scotland players who did score a dramatic goal during England’s lacklustre second half earlier this week. England will, of course, be looking to knock off both Argentina and Japan, thereby hoping to top the group stage by Wednesday.

I’ve not really mentioned, in the diary yet this year, how the world comes into Allendale through our television screens, or our online connections. We’re always eager to see news of ourselves, our village, of course, on the regional and national news or other media (whether it’s in the context of the Dalek’s planning application, or Hadrian Valeting’s tractor washing as featured in the recent tweets of the Museum of English Rural Life), but I mean that events and news apart from things of local interest do filter into our consciousness through the media.

So women’s football is turning heads and attention, and our regional BBC and ITV channels are ever-so-proud of the area’s representation in the national squad: there are 8 players from the North-East and North Yorkshire in the world cup team! I wonder if the excitement is filtering through, here, to the U8s, U9s etc who I imagine are not necessarily gender sequestered. Will one of Allendale’s own young women eventually join the national team?

The mind begins to race with the possibility, and of course, why ever not? A bit of encouragement at the right time, and who knows where a talented youngster could go? I have a very vivid recollection of three little girls, all in the same entry class at Allendale Middle, moving together through the Haydon Bridge pyramid scheme, who grew up to become medical doctors — or to be more precise, an anesthesiologist, a cardio-thoracic surgeon, and a paediatric orthopaedic surgeon — there’s no limit to a youngster’s aspiration when a kindly, teacherly reinforcement of their potential is engaged. In this sports-eager village, a similar sort of encouragement to talented young athletes could elicit similar realisation in the mature, beautiful game.

Anyway, the world impacts on Allendale both through the media, and with more immediacy through the diaspora of many of our young people, who in a sense go out and bring it all back home with them. Probably the very best thing we can do for our children is to believe in them, in their potential, and give them love, safety and nurturance in a home territory from whence, as Terry Conway’s song The Eastern Allen Runs has it, they should ‘never be shamed to think of hame,’ no matter where they wander on this great earth.

[Apropos of Sally Dulieu’s comment transcribed below, it seems opportune to post the photograph of Allendale’s Ladies Football Team from 1936 — thanks to Allendale’s Local History Group who carefully archived this historical record in a searchable database.]

1 Comment

  1. Sally Dulieu writes to add some historical perspective to Women’s Football in Allendale:

    “Some years ago when there was an exhibition of old photos in the Village Hall, I was surprised to see that the Allendale ladies’ football team (the existence of which was a surprise in itself), back in probably about 1936, included my mother, Phyllis Shield. So ladies’ footie has history in Allendale. Today’s offside and hand-ball rules are beyond my comprehension (and that of some referees?).”

    It appears that the photograph Sally mentions, which featured in Nora Handcock’s exhibition, is this one, now appearing in the archive of the Local History Group, but apparently mislabelled as to date: . We’re not nearly quite so modern as we think, are we?!

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