As most of the European seasons draw to a close let's take a look at some exciting times for women's football.
Last Thursday I joined a decent sized crowd to watch Leeds United Ladies take on Manchester City Ladies at Elland Road, the first time that they had been allowed there. A warm night and a great turn out in the Lower John Charles stand for a memorable and exciting FA Premier League match. Leeds won 2-1 and were back in action on Sunday afternoon. They have a large striker called Cary Huegett who is built like a tank but brave and skillful. She scored in the loss to Sunderland in last year's final and is the team's top scorer.
This time I was at York City's Bootham Crescent, just outside the city walls, for the FA Womens League Cup Final. Leeds entertained Aston Villa Ladies. Lots of end to end stuff but after 30 minutes of extra time we went to penalties. 5-4 to the Villans. Before the kick off I photographed the trophy and took the mickey out of Chairman of the Womens F.A. Thura Kt Win, JP and his sidekick President Peter Hough as they waited to shake hands with the two squads. "Where are the women committee members" I asked. They pointed to the VIP Box. Actually they have three women Sue Hough, Sylvia Gore and Gill Jones- and twice as many men,
Villa had defeated Coventry City, Blackburn Rovers and Portsmouth. Leeds had conquered Yeovil. Charlton Athletic and Sunderland in the lead up to the final.
We now hava a WSL www.fawsl.com a division above and the FA are fixing to have two divisions soon. Again we are seeing slow progress with the ladies gracing The Emirates tonight with Arsenal hosting Liverpool. Last April Arsenal had a record crowd for the new league of 5,032 against Chelsea. At a recent FA Womens Cup semi-final Liverpool were allowed on the hallowed turf of Anfield only to lose 2-1 to Arsenal Ladies. Arsenal will play Bristol Academy at Doncaster's Keepmoat Stadium in the final in a couple of weeks.
In other parts of Europe the leagues are finishing up whereas The WPL is a summer league. 25,000 fans showed up at San Mames to see Athletic Bilbao lose 2-1 to visiting Barcelona. They only needed a tie to win the league. Melani Serano opened the scoring for Barca before Eli Ibarra equalized. Mexican international Kento Robles scored the winner. Barcelona 76 points, Athletic Bilbao 74, Atletico Madrid 68.
In Germany Wolfsburg will have to wait until the final day to clinch the title. after only a third defeat of the season to Turbine Potsdam. Die Wolfinnen host Bad Neuenahn on the final day. Turbine and 1FFC Frankfurt will battle it out for the other UEFA Champions League place.
On Thursday 23rd May at Stamford Bridge, Wolfsburg play Olympique Lyonnaise in the Champions League Final, two days prior to Bayern Munich and Dortmund Borussia meeting at Wembley in the men's final. www.uefa.com
In Italy, Torres from Sardinia are champions, for the fourth time in a row with 81 points, followed by Tavagnacio 78 and Brescia 70.
Across the Atlantic we have the third attempt at a pro women's league. Now called the NWSL there were 16,479 fans at Jeld-Wen Field for The Portland Thorns home opener, and all three Portland road games have been sellouts. 5,000 at Maryland Soccer Plex for 2-1 win over Washington Spirit. Boston Breakers had a sell out 3,110 at Dilby Stadium as Sydney Leroux scored a hat-trick over Chicago Red Stars. Western New York Flash beat Sky Blue FC 2-1 with goals from Adriana Martin and Abby Wambach.