Welcome to this week’s column. No prizes for guessing what’s been bugging me beyond endurance this week. But actually there’s a bigger story that should be given prominence – the conviction of US Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar. But there is plenty of news from other sports this week – news that, thanks to Mr Neville, has received even less (if that were possible) coverage than usual.
Stories this week come from netball, cricket, rugby union, football, Winter Olympics, tennis, bowls and Commonwealth Games.
Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years imprisonment for the abuse of girls and young women he was supposed to be caring for in his role as US Olympic gymnastics team doctor.
Nassar pleaded guilty to 10 counts of sexual assault.
The 54-year old had already been sentenced to 60 years for the possession of child pornography.
Judge Rosemarie Aquilina delivered a devastating speech in sentencing Nassar.
“As much as it was my honour and privilege to hear the sister survivors, it was my honour and privilege to sentence you.
“Because, sir, you do not deserve to walk outside of a prison ever again.”
156 girls and women accused Nasser and the court heard seven days of testimony.
In response to the accusations Nassar said,
“What I am feeling pales in comparison to the pain, trauma, and emotional destruction that all of you are feeling.
“There are no words to describe the depth and breadth of how sorry I am for what has occurred.”
Now let’s just get the next subject over with so we can move on other things as there is a lot to get through.
FA appoints Phil Neville as new England Women’s Head Coach
It’s all been said. I can add nothing new, but it won’t stop me putting my two penn’orth in. The FA’s job advert said it was looking for:
“an outstanding football coach with a track record of consistent and successful management and development of elite players and coaches to high-performance levels.”
Or, alternatively, we can hire Phil Neville. As I said last week, I’m ready to be converted, but if things do go well, will it because of Neville or in spite of him?
And, it never ceases to amaze me that hundreds of men who have never given a second’s consideration to women’s football unless it is to dismiss it as irrelevant, now feel it is their right, nay their duty, to give their opinion on this topic. Should I be grateful that the “great and the good” of the men’s game now have an opinion – largely that the appointment is wrong? No, I should not. You’ve never shown any interest before – don’t pretend you’re commenting because you feel outrage at this appointment. Can’t quite believe I’m going to say this, but at the moment those saying “who cares?” are the ones I want to read – at least they’re consistent……
Many of the social media comments over the last few days have been unpleasant and personal about Neville and have no place in any reasoned argument. Neville’s tweets from way back have been a distraction from the real issues. I don’t have much of an opinion either way on Neville as a person, but if the FA couldn’t find anyone better qualified for this role they are doing something wrong and Baroness Sue Campbell coming out and saying that the other candidates were “nervous” about the media grilling they would receive is not going to convince me otherwise.
Right, enough and onwards.
We’re up and running again in the WSL this weekend. These are the fixtures:
Saturday 27 January
Liverpool v Bristol City (5.30pm, Select Security Stadium)
London Bees v Watford FC (2pm, The Hive)
Sunday 28 January
Chelsea v Everton (12.30pm, Kingsmeadow Stadium)
Birmingham City v Yeovil Town (2pm, Solihull Moors)
Reading v Arsenal (2pm, Wycombe Wanderers FC)
Sunderland v Manchester City (2pm, Mariners Park)
Millwall Lionesses v Durham (12 noon, St Paul’s Sports Ground)
Sheffield v Tottenham Hotspur (1pm, Sheffield FC)
Doncaster Rovers Belles v Brighton & Hove Albion (2pm, Keepmoat Stadium)
Oxford United v Aston Villa (2pm, Oxford City FC)
Other Football News
There has been a mixture of good and bad in the other news this week; I’m afraid it’s been one step forward, at least two back:
Manchester City are signalling their clear commitment to women’s football by launching their new “Same City, Same Passion” campaign.
As part of this they are merging their men’s and women’s social media channels and say that the campaign is,
“Focused on promoting women’s football by demonstrating that the same skills, same excitement and same passion exist wherever a ball is kicked”.
The club statement went on to say,
“Despite the rapid growth the sport has experienced since then, the general public perception of women’s football does not always match the reality of what can be seen on the pitch.
“In 2014, FIFA’s women’s football survey found that only 13 per cent of its member associations believed women’s football was perceived as a quality sport.
“Same City, Same Passion has been created to combat this misconception and to show that the similarities to the men’s game are far greater than the differences, and that men’s, women’s, boys’ and girls’ football can be enjoyed by everyone.”
“Same City, Same Passion aims to highlight that the similarities between men’s and women’s football are far greater than the differences and, regardless of who’s playing, it’s just football.
“Merging social media channels as part of this campaign offers us a unique opportunity to increase the visibility of our women’s team and to offer our supporters the chance to enjoy the excitement and passion that defines every Manchester City team.”
Let’s face it, the club is often accused of “buying” success, but, to be honest I say let them buy it if they are going to put this much faith in their women’s team. Let it show the others how it’s done. Hopefully, others will follow suit with similar commitment. I’m not holding my breath, but it’s a definite step forward.
Bad news from the US this week as it has been announced that Boston Breakers have gone out of business.
The details are still sketchy, but it is believed that the players were told by email on Thursday.
England striker Natasha Dowie plays for the Breakers and the manager is former Liverpool boss Matt Beard.
More news in next week’s column.
It was announced today that Yeovil manager Jamie Sherwood will leave the club at the end of the season. Sherwood has been doing the job part-time and with the league going fully professional from next season, he cannot carry on his other job in Wales and this one. So he has opted to stand down from his role at Yeovil.
In a similar position is Ellie Curson, who is also to leave Yeovil to concentrate on her teaching career as she does not want to commit to a full-time professional team.
- Chloe Kelly and Taylor Hinds have left Arsenal for Everton
- England under-20 forward, Rinsola Babajide, has signed for Liverpool from Watford.
World Cup Qualifying
Scotland and Northern Ireland have qualified for the 2019 World Cup after the qualifying tournament at the weekend.
Friday, 19 January
Wales 40-52 Scotland
Wales were ahead at half-time 23-21, but the Scots came back and by the end of the third quarter were 32-31 up. Then Nia Jones was sent off for Wales, the match had turned for good, Scotland extended their lead and took the match by 12.
Saturday, 20 January
Northern Ireland 57-42 Wales
Northern Ireland were always ahead in this game. They led 16-11 after the first quarter and 28-21 at half-time. They were never headed and they took the match comfortably.
Sunday, 21 January
Scotland 52-31 Northern Ireland
Both sides had already qualified by beating Wales. Scotland went on the offensive early and were 14-6 ahead at the end of the first quarter. By half-time they were 27-14 up.
Scotland’s defence was stronger and their attackers more accurate as they stretched away to make the final gap 21 points.
The Welsh coach, Trish Wilcox, has already paid the price for failing to qualify for the World Cup as she was sacked this week. She also leaves her role as Celtic Dragons coach.
Wales are now looking to appoint an interim head coach for the Commonwealth Games, before they make a permanent appointment later on in the year.
Wilcox had been in post for three and a half years.
20 January (Copper Box)
South Africa 50-54 Australia
The Diamonds’ shooting was the difference in this match. And yet, it could all have been different. At half-time South Africa were one point ahead.
But they couldn’t maintain their form as Australia found theirs. Going into the final quarter the Diamonds had reversed the deficit and were one point ahead 39-38.
The gap was stretched to four points by the end, but it was a whole lot tighter than expected.
England 64-57 New Zealand
What a game! What a comeback from the Roses!
England came back from six down as the fourth quarter started, to tie the game 49-49 at the final hooter. And so into extra time.
But it needn’t even have got that far, as Kadeen Corbin missed a shot in the last seconds which would have won the game in normal time.
The Roses powered through extra-time, forcing the Silver Ferns into mistakes and turning the ball over. New Zealand seemed to visibly wilt as England got stronger and there was only going to be ne winner by the end.
Player of the match was Serena Guthrie, a ball of furious energy throughout.
22 January (Copper Box)
England 46-50 Australia
But it was the same old story against Australia as England fell short.
The Roses were 28-21 down at half-time, a gap too large to come back from against the World’s number one side.
They brought it back to 37-34 at the end of the third, but Australia held on for the win.
25 January (Johannesburg)
South Africa 46-51 New Zealand
The Silver Ferns led by five after the first quarter, 14-9. They maintained the gap with the score at 25-21 at half-time.
The gap was five 39-34 going into the final quarter, and although the Proteas fought in the fourth, New Zealand took the game by five.
There are two games to go: 28 January (Johannesburg)
Australia v New Zealand
South Africa v England
The Australian Open final will be between the top seed, Simona Halep and second seed, Caroline Wozniacki.
Halep overcame 21st seed Angelique Kerber in a semi-final epic, 6-3 4-6 9-7
Wozniacki defeated Elise Mertens in straight sets, 6-3 7-6
The final is on Saturday 26 January.
The GB team for Pyeongchang has been announced. The games begin on 9 February. It’s great to see the crowdfunded “Micas” on the list. The women taking part are:
Lizzy Yarnold, Laura Deas
Mica McNeill (Pilot), Mica Moore (Brakewoman)
Team Muirhead (In with a great chance of a medal)
Eve Muirhead (Skip), Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray, Kelly Schafer
Penny Coomes (with partner Nick Buckland) (ice dancing)
Short Track Speed Skating
Elise Christie (500m, 1000m, 1500m) – (Great chance of a medal if she can stay out of trouble)
Charlotte Gilmartin (500m, 1000m, 1500m) (outside chance of a medal)
Kathryn Thomson (500m, 1000m, 1500m)
Amanda Lightfoot (7.5km Sprint)
Charlie Guest, Alex Tilley
Izzy Atkin, Rowan Cheshire, Emily Sarsfield, Katie Summerhayes, Molly Summerhayes
Aimee Fuller, Zoe Gillings-Brier, Katie Ormerod.
The World Indoor Bowls tournament is underway at Hopton-on-Sea in Norfolk and the women’s singles has been won by Katherine Rednall from Ipswich.
This is Rednall’s third title. She beat Rebecca Field from Norwich in the final 13-3 13-6.
She now goes on to represent England at the Commonwealth Games in Australia.
Wales have already announced their team for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, which take place 4-15 April 2018. Included is 11-year old Anna Hursey, who be representing the Principality in table tennis.
The hockey, sevens and netball squads are still be finalised.
Aquatics: Jazz Carlin, Georgia Davies, Kathryn Greenslade, Ellena Jones, Harriet Jones, Beth Sloan, Alys Thomas, Chloe Tutton, Harriet West.
Athletics: Hollie Arnold (para), Olivia Breen (para), Rebecca Chapman, Melissa Courtney, Bethan Davies, Seren Bundy Davies (still to reach qualifying standard), Caryl Granville, Beverley Jones (para), Caryl Jones, Elinor Kirk, Heather Lewis, Carys Parry-Evans, Sally Peake,
Boxing: Rosie Eccles, Lynsey Holdaway, Lauren Price.
Cycling: Elinor Barker, Eleanor Coster, Joe Holt, Ciara Horne, Rachel James, Manon Lloyd, Dani Rowe (having switched from representing England to representing Wales),
Lawn bowls: Anwen Butten, Laura Daniels, Jess Sims, Caroline Taylor, Julie Thomas (para), Pauline Wilson (para), Emma Woodcock.
Shooting: Sian Corish, Coral Kennerley, Sarah Wixey.
Squash: Tesni Evans, Deon Saffery.
Table Tennis: Charlotte Carey, Anna Hursey, Chloe Thomas.
Triathlon: Olivia Mathias, Non Stanford.
Weighlifting & Powerlifting: Tayla Howe, Laura Hughes, Catrin Jones, Holly Knowles, Nerys Pearce (para), Faye Pittman, Hannah Powell, Christie Williams.
Last weekend’s Tyrell 15s results were as follows:
Firwood Waterloo 0-29 Loughborough Lightning
Gloucester-Hartpury 34-17 Bristol
Wasps 5-0 Saracens
DMP Sharks v Harlequins Postponed
Worcester Valkyries 5-22 Richmond
Just the one fixture this weekend:
DMP Sharks v Richmond (4pm, Northern Echo Arena)
So Saracens lose their unbeaten record at Wasps. They are still top on 60 points from 13 games. Harlequins are second on 54, with Wasps third on 47. At the bottom, luckless Worcester lie on two points with Firwood Waterloo above them on seven.
It’s the Sydney round of the World Sevens this weekend. Check out http://www.sydney7s.com.au/ for details.
Standings: Australia are top on 20 points, USA are second on 18, Russia third on 16 with Canada next on 14 and New Zealand fifth on 12.
England lie eighth on six points and Ireland are one further back on four.
Cricket – off the Pitch
History will be made this year as Anya Shrubsole will become the first woman to appear on the cover of the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack. It is the bible for cricket fans worldwide and this will be the 155th edition of the book. Another small step in the right direction for women’s cricket.
Cricket – on the Pitch
Melbourne Stars 118/6 (20 overs)
Melbourne Renegades 118/6 (20 overs)
Stars won in Super Over
It was a thriller at the MCG as the teams finished dead level after 20 over and the game went into Super Over.
Stars won the toss and elected to bat. Lizelle Lee top-scored with 31, with contributions from Alana King (22), Anna Lanning (21 not out) and Georgia Elwiss (18). The wickets were evenly distributed between the Renegades bowlers.
In response, Amy Satterthwaite scored 31 not out, Sophie Molineux 25 and Claire Koski 19 as the Renegades managed to finish on exactly the same score.
In their Super Over, the Renegades scored a healthy 10 runs, but lost four wickets in the process, including ducks for Molineux, Brown and Satterthwaite.
Lee and du Preez took it on for the Stars. Lee scored seven and du Preez, three and won the game having lost fewer wickets.
Sydney Thunder 148/4 (20 overs)
Adelaide Strikers 111 all out (19.2 overs)
Thunder won by 37 runs
Rachel Priest scored 51 from 27 balls and Naomi Stalenberg 41 from 30 as the Thunder put on a good total of 148.
The Strikers lost wickets at regular intervals with Bridget Patterson scoring 30 from 20 balls. But it wasn’t enough. Samantha Bates took 3/21 from four overs and Stafanie Taylor and Nicola Carey two each.
Hobart Hurricanes 122/4 (20 overs)
Perth Scorchers 126/1 (16 overs)
Scorchers won by 9 wickets
Isobel Joyce top-scored for the Hurricanes with 52 not out and Georgia Redmayne 43, but no-one else made a significant contribution. Katherine Brunt continued her good form with 2/22 off her four overs.
Elyse Villani attacked in response with 70 not out from 48 balls, Nicole Bolton scored 34 and Nat Sciver 18 not out as the Scorchers won with four overs to spare.
Sydney Thunder 114/5 (20 overs)
Adelaide Strikers 114/4 (20 overs)
Strikers won by 1 in the Super Over
Strikers won the toss and chose to bat. They struggled to 114 with Suzie Bates top-scoring on 40. The Thunder top four all got into the twenties, but were unable to get over the line and the game went to a super over.
Sophie Devine bowled for the Strikers, conceding just six runs and taking one wicket. She then opened the batting for the Strikers – she scored six and Suzie Bates one and Adelaide had won by one run.
Melbourne Stars 106/7 (20 overs)
Sydney Sixers 107/5 (18 overs)
Sixers won by five wickets
The Stars’ top four managed only 15 between them, but Erin Osborne scored 39 and Anna Lanning 18 as they limped to 106. Marizanne Kapp took 2/13 from her four overs.
Alyssa Healy scored 21 from 16 and Ellyse Perry 39 not out from 45 as the Sixers took the win.
Hobart Hurricanes 130/7 (20 overs)
Perth Scorchers 134/4 (18.5 overs)
Scorchers won by six wickets
Georgia Redmayne scored 53 from 49 before she was caught and bowled by Katherine Brunt.
But 60 not out from Nicole Bolton, 21 from Elyse Villani and 24 from Nat Sciver were the telling innings for the Scorchers who got home with seven balls to spare.
Melbourne Renegades 68 all out (15.5 overs)
Sydney Thunder 69/6 (16 overs)
Thunder won by four wickets
Renegades were skittled by the Thunder as five players scored only one and Amy Satterthwaite top-scored with 17. Nicola Carey took 3/10 off 3.5 overs, while Rene Farrell and Stafanie Taylor chipped in with two each.
Thunder took it easy in response and lost wickets along the way. Rachel Haynes scored 37, keeping her head as wickets fell. She was fifth wicket to fall and it was up to Stafanie Taylor and Rene Farrell to see it home.
After 12 matches, Sydney Thunder are top on 18 points. The Sixers and Strikers are second and third respectively on 16 and Perth Scorchers lie fourth on 14.