It's a while since I have written about Charltons Women or even on a wider scale womens football or an even wider scale women in sport. I think it maybe partly from the embarrassment last season of a few days after the defeat at the Den, sneaking back and watching Englands Women defeat Spains Women 1-0, on their victorious road to the world cup finals next year. I was ready over the next few days to answer anyone who had noticed me there with, "No you must be mistaken, I was in a gay bondage bar." Infinitely less embarrassing than being in the Den voluntarily not watching Charlton.
Although still criminally under exposed, women's sport in Britain, appears to be in the fullest of health. Women's Cricketers are on top of the world having won the 2009 world cup, the rugby team were beaten world cup finalists and the GB Hockey team picked up their first ever medal – a bronze – in the recent world cup.
I first watched womens football at the Valley, when the England team took on Croatia in a friendly, subsequently I watched a few Charlton Womens matches when they were played at the Valley, in fact I watched them before they were reincarnated from Croydon Ladies, at the Croydon sports arena. I habe a photo of me with Casey Stoney – current England player and former Charlton captain and the media darling when an anti Charlton spokesperson was being sought following the disbandment of the Ladies after male relegation.
Charltons women were initially run separately from the club set up and separate sponsors were sought for them and through Alan Mercer – "Merc" to his mates, , Footdown came forward. Latter it is alleged that pressure was put on Footdown to give up sponsorship so that the mens sponsors could be rolled over onto the women, so to speak!
But now its has gone a full circle, Paul Mortimers team play in a kit supplied by Macron but the design is different from the men's team and KRBS, have probably, decided that they have plunged too much money into the club and a fans company has picked up the womens shirts. Stephen King – hopefully not the author –has already been a sponsor of Casey through his company PHSC Plc. So now the gap between the Womens team and the Mens team is complete, different owner ship (the women's team is part of the community scheme), their own website, different league, different kit and different sponsors. It's a shame because I used to enjoy the Valley nights, singing for the diminutive Eartha Pond (when I say diminutive, I really mean bult like a brick outhouse).
A lot of people look at womens football and negatively compare it with the men's game. However to really appreciate the women's game you have to think of it as something to be viewed independently of any other sport. You don't compare five a side football with the eleven a side game and that is how you should look at the women's game.
Unfortunately, the successes of yester year are not being repeated by the current crop, they have played 5 games this season and lost all of their league games. The only positive being the one win in the cup against Millwall, this despite optimistic noises pre season. That said if you read the write ups we apparently have drawn against Keynsham Town.
I am hoping that at some stage the women do come back to the Valley and we see one or two matches, in the meantime I'll look forward to watching England in next years world cup hope in my heart and in the dressing room and no wags in sight … well only a few!!