About Me

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Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom
I'm a director of Maidenhead United Football Club. For ten seasons one of my roles at the club was to produce the match programme. The aim of this blog was to write football related articles for publication in the match programme. In particular I like to write about the representation of football in popular culture, specifically music, film/TV and literature. I also write about matches I attend which generally feature Maidenhead United.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Post Script - Champions de l'Europe

Just when I thought my season was over the opportunity to add an inconsequential post script presented itself when I discovered that the Women's Champions League Final was due to be held at Craven Cottage. Advertised by way of flags flying from lampposts along King Street and the Fulham Palace Road, an entry fee of £5 seemed too good to pass up and so I found myself heading down to the river after work last Thursday with a friend as we had done many times before the previous season to watch Fulham's amazing European adventure.

The number of outside broadcast trucks in the road leading up to the ground suggested this was a big occasion and the crowd milling around the ground looked like giving it a sufficient audience. With a splendid programme available for £2 the whole matchday experience provided a pleasing contrast to the financial bonanza that would be taking place on Saturday at Wembley.
Entering the ground we paused to look at the kitsch curio which is the new Michael Jackson statue (presumably this means UEFA won't be hosting any schoolboy football here) before taking our seats in the Riverside stand next to the Directors box.
This was the first time we had attended a women's football match so what to expect? Would the cliches about skill compensating for strength be true? Would the coach lambast the team at half time by accusing them of playing like a bunch of men? Certainly it would be a professional affair as the tenth European final would be contested by two full time outfits: Olympique Lyonnais and FFC Turbine Potsdam.
This was to be a rematch of the 2010 final when Potsdam triumphed in a penalty shootout, the first final to be decided in one night with the first eight all being two leg ties. As their name suggests Lyonnais were the women's section of the famous Lyon club but Potsdam's story was more interesting. They were also an offshoot of a men's club but their forebear was based in the former East Germany with the word Turbine being a link to their origins as works team of an Energy company. Unlike all their other East German counterparts Potsdam had prospered after the fall of the Berlin Wall to become the best women's team in the unified nation. However despite the appeal of their backstory we had ended up sitting in the Lyonnais section so decided to root for the French.
Any late misgivings about the status of the game were allayed by the appearance of Michel Platini to our right and the game kicked off in front of a crowd in the region of 10,000.
The opening exchanges saw the Germans look every inch the title holders with a couple of well organised attacks almost exposing a frail looking French defence.
However the French soon played their way into the game with some dazzling wing play from Louisa Necib and Elodie Thomis. With German goalkeeper Anna Sarholz having a night worthy of Manuel Almunia it was no surprise when the French took the lead midway when Sarholz had a morris dancer moment and passed up more than one chance to clear the ball before the powerful Wendie Renard fired home the loose ball.
The second half saw the Germans attempt to get back on level terms but their lack of shape in the midfield meant the French remained a threat particularly through the strong running of Lotta Schelin. The ebb and flow of the game was sometimes checked by the odd bad foul which referee Dagmar Dankova seemed loathe to chastise even when two German defenders paired up to body check a French player. This proved to be the breaking point as a vengeful challenge minutes later led to the only booking of the game.
As the final whistle drew near a German equaliser seemed a possibility but a wise French decision to substitute their tiring wingers led to their replacements Eugenie Le Sommer and Lara Dickenmann combining to score a goal worthy of any final, Sommer's cross from the right wing being mercilessly dispatched by Dickenmann to win the elegant trophy for the French.
The final whistle was the cue for delirious French celebrations as they became the first Gallic club team, male or female, to hold the title Champions De L'Europe. On receiving the cup from their counterpart Platini a fusillade of confetti exploded to our right and another great Craven Cottage European night was at an end, ironically on the day that it was revealed that the Cottagers themselves would again be playing in Europe, with their first game in June perhaps being the start of my 2011-12 season.

1 comment:

Big Jon said...

I would like have to attended the match and I am sure it was enjoyable game to attend.
I hope that next season 's competition will be good.