Friday, May 24

FORMER ENGLAND INTERNATIONAL JOINS TOTTON’S WALKING FOOTBALL TEAM

FORMER ENGLAND INTERNATIONAL JOINS TOTTON’S WALKING FOOTBALL TEAM

FORMER ENGLAND INTERNATIONAL JOINS TOTTON’S WALKING FOOTBALL TEAM

Yes, its true, our newbie played in two world cup finals, the first in Italy in 1970 and then the following year in Mexico, appearing in front of huge crowds in such iconic stadia as Milan’s San Siro and the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.

Hold on, wasn’t the 1970 World Cup in Mexico? And isn’t the competition held every four years, not annually?

Well spotted; we are of course referring to the Women’s World Cup finals played in countries where the women’s game had professional status.  This was a far cry from the situation in England at that time, when woman were amateurs and teams played in parks as a result of an FA ban on playing on league grounds. The Women’s FA (WFA) declined invitiations to take part in the tournaments, so an England XI affiliated themselves to the Women’s International European Football Federation (WIEFF) in order to take part in these historic events.

Our new team member, Louise Cross (as she was known then), was a left winger with the successful Southampton Ladies team when she was selected to represent England, making the trips to both Italy and Mexico. The England XI finished 4th in the Coppa Del Mondo in Italy, then participated in the finals in Mexico after qualification was achieved through a European tournament held in Sicily.

The Mexico trip, in particular, was a fantastic experience for a teenager; Louise recalls stopping off in New York, spending a month in Mexico, attending a reception at the British Embassy, then playing games against Argentina, Mexico and France watched by crowds reported to be near to the 100,000 capacity of the Azteca stadium.  Unfortunately, on her return home Louise received a 3-month ban from the WFA for taking part in these ‘unofficial’  tournaments.

Quite a story, and some 48 years later Louise is enjoying getting fit with the regulars at the Tuesday morning walking football sessions, hosted at AFC Totton.

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