Welcome to the column. This week’s stories from football, cricket, swimming, canoeing, tennis and netball, with the only possible “And finally” that there can be.
The SSE Women’s FA Cup Final took place at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 14 May. It was the second year that the BBC had televised it live. A crowd of 32,912 saw Arsenal defeat the holders, Chelsea with a stunning goal from Dan Carter. I wrote a report for Women’s Sports UK. You can read it here: http://www.womenssportsuk.com/football/match-report/arsenal-win-sse-fa-cup-with-spectacular-carter-goal
There were also some league matches this week:
Chelsea Ladies 0-2 Manchester City Women
Manchester City remain unbeaten in the FAWSL after completing an impressive away win over Chelsea. Demi Stokes scored the first in the first half with Jennifer Beattie doubling the score in the second. It capped a miserable week for Chelsea who lost out to Arsenal in the FA Cup on Saturday.
Sunderland Ladies 0-4 Liverpool Ladies
A comprehensive win for Liverpool saw them move up to third in the table. Rosie White scored the first with Alex Greenwood putting away a penalty for the second. An unfortunate own goal from Steph Bannon made it three and Katie Zelem got the fourth. Sunderland are still looking for their first win of the season.
Birmingham City Ladies 0-0 Reading Ladies
Reading were also looking for their first win of the season, and although they couldn’t secure all three points, they were happy to leave with the draw. In a disappointing televised game, chances were few and far between and the close control was poor. Birmingham are now unbeaten in four games, but were left rueing the few chances they had.
Did you know the women’s under 17 European Championships have been happening over the last couple of weeks? Not if you only look in the mainstream media. England’s women finished third after winning the play-off for bronze against Norway.
They had been beaten in the semi-final by, yes you guessed it, Germany, 3-4, but came back well to triumph against the Norwegians to claim a place at the Under 17s World Cup in Jordan later this year.
Eventual winners, Germany, and runners-up, Spain, also qualified.
Niamh Charles scored both goals to take the win.
In a turn of amazing news, FIFA has appointed Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura from Senegal as its new Secretary General. She has plenty of high-level experience, having spent 21 years at the United Nations. She replaces Jerome Valke, who was banned from football for 12 years after his conviction for corruption.
“She has a proven ability to build and lead teams, and improve the way organisations perform. Importantly for Fifa, she also understands that transparency and accountability are at the heart of any well-run and responsible organisation,” said FIFA’s president, Gianni Infantino.
Unhappy news from cricket this week as Sarah Taylor has announced an indefinite break from cricket for “personal reasons”. Hot on the heels of Charlotte Edwards’ forced retirement last week, this is a blow for Head of Women’s Cricket Clare Connor and coach Mark Robinson. It is not known whether she will be back for the visit of Pakistan in June or Sri Lanka later in the summer. She is also due to be an essential part of Lancashire Thunder’s quest to win the inaugural Kia Super League.
In better news, the ECB awards were held this week. Women’s Cricketer of the Year Award went to Anya Shrubsole. Last season she took 32 wickets for England and has put herself forward to replace Charlotte Edwards as Captain. And talking of Edwards, she was voted fans’ Women’s Player of the Year.
There were some interesting league fixtures last weekend. Kent continue to set the pace:
Berkshire v Warwickshire
Berkshire 186 all out (48.1 overs)
Warwickshire win by 14 runs
Warwickshire won the toss and elected to bat. They put on an impressive 200/9 with Anna Lanning the pick of the batters with 54. Best bowling came from putative England captain, Heather Knight, who took two for 13 off her 10 overs, bowling seven maidens in the process.
Berkshire’s reply started well as the first wicket didn’t fall until 97 was on the board, when Linsey Smith was bowled by Georgia Davis for 40. However the next five wickets fell for just 39 runs with only Knight holding the fort. They were lucky to get as close to their target as they did with Hennessey pick of the bowlers taking four for 32 off her 10 overs.
Kent v Middlesex
Kent 94/4 (20.2 overs)
Middlesex 92 all out (38.5 overs)
Kent win by 6 wickets
Easy win for Kent at Canterbury as they dismissed Middlesex for just 92 and went on to reach their target in just over 20 overs.
The top five batters only scored 21 between them with a lethal spell from Tash Farrant doing the damage as she got Sophia Dunkley (2), Natasha Miles (4) and Catherine Dalton (0) with Alice Davidson- Richards taking Anna Nicholls’ (9) wicket in between the latter two.
Kent are a class outfit with superstars at every turn. It seemed inevitable, after the horror show of a week for Charlotte Edwards, that she should play a decisive innings. She was 30 not out at the end and Kent won at a canter.
Somerset v Sussex
Somerset 126 all out (38.5 overs)
Sussex 127/3 (28.1 overs)
Sussex win by 7 wickets
Somerset opener Gwenan Davies went for a four-ball duck, bowled all ends up by Izi Noakes. There was a semblance of a recovery from Georgina Adcock (28), Sophie Luff (26) and Anya Shrubsole (14) as they took the score to 94/4, but after that the lower order collapsed with only Kate Randall, coming in at nine, getting into double figures. The destroyer of the innings was Georgia Elwiss who took a stunning six for 17 off eight overs.
Elwiss, who is becoming a useful all-rounder, then did her bit with the bat. She opened the innings and scored 45 before she was caught by Sophie Luff off the bowling of Nicole Richards. But Sussex never looked in trouble, seeing it home in just over 28 overs.
I published my interview with Salliann Briggs, Head Coach of Loughborough Lightning cricket, this week. Here’s the link if you would like to read it:
There were some good performances by British swimmers at the European Swimming Championships in London this week.
Among the best were:
Great Britain’s mixed relay team gold in the 4 x 100m
Fran Halsall grabbing bronze in the 50m butterfly
Jazz Carlin’s silver in the 800m freestyle
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor and Hannah Miley – silver and bronze respectively in the 200m individual medley
Chloe Tutton’s bronze in the 100m breaststroke behind Lithuania’s amazing Ruta Meilutyte.
Canoeing doesn’t get featured much in this column, but I’m always looking to expand the number of sports covered.
It was the European Championships in Liptovsky, Slovakia this week. The women’s K1 trio of Fiona Pennie, Lizzie Neave and Kimberley Woods took gold, beating Germany by more than four seconds. Mallory Franklin also took gold in the C1. She originally finished in second to Australia’s Jess Fox, but Fox was later penalised 50 points and Franklin moved up into the gold position.
Serena Williams beat Madison Keys in straight sets, 76 63, to win the Italian Open this week. It was her first WTA title for nine months. It was her 70th career title.
The French Open begins next week and the British players have tough draws:
Johanna Konta v Julia Goerges
Heather Watston v Nicole Gibbs
Laura Robson v Andrea Petkovic (very tough)
Naomi Broady v Coco Vandeweghe
There was a feast of netball at Northumbria University this week as Netball Europe’s Open Championship took place. The tournament winners were the England Roses.
The Championship was contested by England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
England started the action against Northern Ireland and put in a dazzling display to take the game 83-32. England then beat Scotland Thistles 70-26. The deciding game came against Wales, who were also unbeaten up to this point, beating Scotland 49-36 and Northern Ireland 54-38.
After the first quarter England were just 17-14 up, but by half-time England were beginning to pull away, stretching their lead to 38-23. In the latter two quarters England began to put on the style, eventually coming out victorious by 81-42 and taking the title of Netball Europe Open Champions.
And finally, this week Muirfield Golf Club, in its wisdom, failed to secure the two-thirds majority vote it needed to allow it to begin to admit women members. Consequently the R&A stripped it of the right to host The Open. Just about everyone has seen the sense of this sanction. Of course, Peter Alliss suggested that if women wanted to use the facilities of members, they should marry one of the current members….. Must give a mention to a tweet I saw, can’t remember who it was, but it was excellent, who said that the decision would also include a change of name for the club….. to Jurassic Park.