As a football supporter who has almost given up with the current state of affairs in the men’s game, it was refreshing to regain a love for the beautiful game via a source I would never have expected—women’s football.
Now to say I’m a novice here would be an understatement. My association with the female version of the game started and ended on FIFA 17, and that’s just to gain the trophy achievements on offer.
The monstrosities that grace the modern day men’s game are nowhere to be found here. There’s no crazy ticket prices, no Allam’s, no rolling around on the floor, no playacting, nor no bumper Sky Sports deal at the determent to the leagues below. Instead there’s passion, skill, and a crowd that feels right at home watching a team that wants to play football.
I’m talking of course about Hull City Ladies, and what was my debut to watching Tigresses football. Now one of the reasons why football is so great is the memories you make. Going with your old man to watch the latest stars. Hearing the crowd roar for the first time. The smell of stale wee rotting on the old wood etc. You always remember your first game. My first City game was a 1-6 thumping at the hands of Chelsea, before the Chelski days, in an FA Cup tie at Boothferry Park where Gustavo Poyet scored four times. What a player he was. I went home hooked.
It’s therefore a travesty that I don’t bother with City anymore. I’m not prepared to put money into the Allam’s pockets and I convinced myself I wouldn’t head back to watch them whilst the gruesome twosome still own the football club. The last two games I’ve been to were freebies, last season against Stoke in the Premier League, where Xherden Shaqiri stole the show with two screamers. Proper tekkers. But City were garbage and the ground was soulless. And this season, very recently, against Reading, for what was a car crash of a football match with the watching audience spending more time playing Angry Birds on their iPhones than watching the action on the field.
I’ll never forget those two fixtures. If anything, it told me that over the past year or so, I have made the right decision, as have thousands of others. The club is dying. It’s soul-destroying really, but it tells you everything how two people have made everyone else feel with the running of the club. Though at City Ladies, I think I’ve found a new football haven. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality on show. City Ladies were superb in smashing Steel City 4-1 and by their standards it was apparently a poor performance. Hope Knight, a left winger that was clearly a class beyond this level, rammed home three goals in a player of the match display.
It was £2 to get into the ground—that’s cheaper than a City programme, pie and pint. Speaks volumes. Knight’s performance was worth the admission fee alone. She’s got a sweet left foot, and took her goals superbly. She’s also a right cocky little git and I love that. After netting her third strike, she just randomly shouted “hat-trick f**k-off” at what I presume was the keeper, which reminded me of myself whenever I scored a try in rugby league. It didn’t happen often, but when it did I made sure every Tom, Dick and Harry on the opposition knew about it. Hope was the same. Her opposition couldn’t deal with her and she definitely got under their skin, something I loved doing too, with their left back, who’d presumably had one too many half time oranges, biting harder than Sam Shepherd when you take a pop at how many clubs he supports.
Knight was superb, but it wasn’t, and hasn’t been since, the Knight show. This team are blessed with talent. They’ve got a pacey right winger in Katie Thompson who leaves defenders for dead with her speed. You can’t foul her either, as she’ll stick the resulting free kick in the back of the net. Elsewhere there’s a right grafter in Rachael Ackroyd up front who runs more than Forest Gump. Honestly she never stops. At the back they have more composure than Steve Irwin catching a viper, and yes for the lads wondering, they are very easy on the eye.
City Ladies absolutely dominated my first Tigresses game, and in truth should have got a lot more than the four goals they scored. They missed numerous chances, but what impressed me the most was the way they play football. They play the right way. They keep the ball on the deck, keeping possession and their composure is brilliant. They’re obviously well coached and they have a great unity between them. The quality was superb. I told myself I’d go back and I have. I suggest you do the same.