19 -31 December
In this last column of 2015, there are stories from cricket, football and horse racing, as well as a look at who got what in the New Year Honours.
In Australia, the inaugural WBBL is proving to be a big success. The early leaders are Heather Knight’s Hobart Hurricanes, with Brisbane Heat, who include Kate Cross and Lauren Winfield in their line-up, in second with the same points, but having played three games more. There is still some way to go though, with the final on 24 January. More updates in the next column.
The Women’s Super League is currently awash with transfers, the two biggest so far being goalkeeper Marie Hourihan’s move from Chelsea to Manchester City and a shock move for Karen Carney from Birmingham City to Chelsea.
The writing was perhaps on the wall for Hourihan who had seen the Swede, Hedvig Lindahl make the goalkeeping position for Chelsea her own last season. She will still essentially be number two at City and will have to prove her mettle to oust England’s Karen Bardsley.
Karen Carney has agreed a two-year deal with the English champions. Chelsea is a team rich with talent and will be keen to repeat their league and cup double in 2016. Carney is undoubtedly an asset and manager Emma Hayes is obviously pleased to have made the signing. In an interview with the BBC she said,
“Karen was a major target and a genuine world-class addition to the squad,
“She is a student of the game and brings additional leadership to our squad.
“I see Karen complementing the talent we already possess in the final third. All our attacking players will benefit hugely from her vision and passing.”
In a somewhat bizarre and more disturbing story from Italy, top women’s five-a-side team, Sporting Locri, based in Reggio Calabria in the Italian South, is considering disbanding after receiving a number of mafia-style threats.
Both the president and vice president of the club have received threats telling them to close the club or face the consequences. The president, Ferdinando Armeni, has had his tyres slashed and threats made towards his three-year-old child.
The ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate is thought to be behind the threats. At this moment club officials are still considering what course to take.
More history was made for female jockeys this week as 22-year-old Lizzie Kelly became the first woman to win a Grade One race over jumps in Britain.
She, and her mount, Tea for Two, won the Kauto Star Novice Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.
After the race she told reporters: “It’s massive for me as a jockey to be able to say that I’ve won a Grade One. There’s always people with stories where they nearly achieve something, but I’ve done it, and we’ve done it as a family which means a hell of a lot more. It’s important for people to be able to see that we can do it. We [female jockeys] are getting somewhere, people are becoming more accepting of it.”
It has been a landmark year for female jockeys all round. Michelle Payne became the first winner of the Melbourne Cup in November, making the headlines with her post-race interview,
“It’s such a chauvinistic sport, a lot of the owners wanted to kick me off. Everyone else can get stuffed [who] think women aren’t good enough.”
Katie Walsh won the Irish Grand National in April and in August Ascot saw the all-female team comprising Hayley Turner, Sammy Jo Bell and Emma-Jayne Wilson won the Shergar Cup against all-male opposition.
And finally, you can tell if it has been a big year for women in sport when you see who has received an award in the New Year Honours. So here we go:
Heather Rabbatts has been made a Dame for her service to football and equality.
A CBE goes to Annamarie Phelps, chair of British Rowing for services to her sport.
OBEs have been awarded to Sue Barker (moving up from an MBE), Catherine Sabin, for services to Tennis, and Chrissie Wellington for services to sport and charity.
The sporting MBEs go to Yvonne Anderson, for services to the Special Olympics, Janice Eaglesham for services to disability sport, Heather Galbraith, for services to equestrianism; Pamela Gallant, for services to people with special needs; England football captain, Stephanie Houghton, for services to football; Gaynor Jones, for service to golf and the development of women’s golf in Wales; Dianne McMillan, for services to swimming and disability awareness; Tracey Neville, for services to netball; Jacqui Oatley, for services to broadcasting and diversity in sport; Anne Whitworth, for services to hockey in the north-east and Fara Williams, for services to women’s football and charity.
Happy New Year to everyone and let’s all look forward to a 2016 filled with fabulous women’s sport!