Women's Soccer 1990 (partially found footage of English and international football matches; 1990)

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Programme for the 1990 WFA Cup Final.

Status: Partially Found

Between 8th-29th April 1990, Channel 4 broadcast a four-part series about English women's football under the title Women's Soccer 1990. It featured top-level English and international women's football matches, in addition to discussions and reports on topical issues surrounding the national and global women's game. Among the showcased games included a UEFA Women's Euro 1991 qualifying match between England and Belgium, to the later stages and Final of the 1990 WFA Cup. In Britain, it represented a major, albeit temporary, expansion of coverage surrounding the women's game. Meanwhile, the 1990 WFA Cup Final itself saw Doncaster Belles beat Friends of Fulham to avenge their 1985 Final loss and gain their fourth title. The broadcasts themselves have been preserved and made publicly accessible by the British Film Institute, but the uncut match footage remains missing.


In 1989, Channel 4 struck a deal with the Women's Football Association (WFA), which would see the WFA Cup Final be exclusively televised for 30 minutes on tape delay.[1][2][3][4] While still considerably far away from the full live coverage the FA Cup Final enjoyed since 1938,[5] it marked a leap forward in English women's football coverage.[3][1] Notably, previous WFA Cup Finals were only shown in snippets on other programmes like Multi-Coloured Swap Shop and Breakfast Time.[6][3] Now, Channel 4 would provide dedicated coverage from the 1989 to 1993 editions before Sky Sports took over the rights in 1994.[7][8][2][3]

As summarised in its 1990 annual report, Channel 4 held a remit to televise obscure and otherwise underappreciated sports, with a general objective to promote greater gender diversity on television.[9] Not only did the channel air women's rugby matches, but it also decided to expand its women's football coverage yet further.[9][4] In the build-up to the 1990 WFA Cup Final, Channel 4 broadcast highlights of the tournament's quarter-finals and semi-finals, the first time any channel had aired pre-Final WFA Cup matches.[10][4] Additionally, it opted to showcase the England women's national football team's qualifying campaign for the UEFA Women's Euro 1991.[11][12][4][10] In the opening group stage, the Lionesses were drawn against Euro 1987 champions and 1989 runners-up Norway,[13] Belgium, and Finland.[11][12] As part of its overall coverage, titled Women's Soccer 1990, Channel 4 televised highlights of England's upcoming home game against Belgium, on 7th April.[4][11] Beforehand, England achieved a goalless draw against Finland on 1st October 1989, before beating Belgium 3-0 away on 17th March.[11]

Another motive towards Channel 4's expanded coverage was that its inaugural 1989 broadcast was a ratings success.[14][15][9] It drew a figure around the 2 million mark,[15] confirming some interest in the women's game despite gendered stereotypes and concerns it was "unfeminine".[16][14] Channel 4, therefore, increased its highlights package from 30 to 50 minutes with the expectation of another compelling Final.[17][4] Annual national coverage of the WFA Cup Final, combined with a growing female interest in the men's national team's World Cup and Euro campaigns, played their part in the rise of English women's football's popularity.[14][3] According to WFA statistics, the 1992/93 season saw 450 clubs and 12,000 players, an increase of 183 and 5,000 compared to respective 1989 figures.[14] However, a study from the University of Leicester's Department of Sociology noted this still considerably lagged behind other nations like Germany and Norway.[14][8][7]

To that end, Women's Soccer 1990 interspersed match highlights with topical discussions surrounding the game.[10] Episodes were televised every week; the opening programme aired on 8th April and provided highlights from the quarter-finals.[18] The second episode focused on the international game and provided biographies of the Lionesses' top players.[19] Among those profiled was Kerry Davis, who for many years was England's top goal-scorer, and was a key player for the team's Euro 1984 and 1985 Mundialito campaigns, having later also represented the nation at the 1995 FIFA Women's World Cup.[20][19] The episode also explored the US team's rapid development, which explained their successful outing in the inaugural FIFA Women's World Cup.[19][14] Meanwhile, the 22nd April programme split semi-final coverage with a news report surrounding how football was viewed in schools across the country, touching upon many issues later detailed in the University of Leicester's study.[21][14] The series also examined the earlier days of English women's football.[10]

All episodes were produced by Trans World International, who had also worked on the 1989 Final broadcast.[10][2] Bill Sinrich was the show's executive producer, while its main presenter was Hazel Irvine, an experienced ITV broadcaster who would soon cover the upcoming 1990 FIFA World Cup.[22][10][4] She was joined by Millwall Lionesses and England representative Sue Law.[23][10][4] Prominent commentator Martin Tyler summarised the quarter-final matches,[18] with Alan Parry fulfilling announcing duties for the later games.[10][4] Law joined Parry as a co-commentator for the Final.[4] The series was another successful outing for Channel 4, convincing higher-ups to commission a sequel series titled Women's Soccer 1991.[24]

Road to the WFA Cup Final and England vs Belgium

The 1990 WFA Cup saw 90 teams compete, down from 98 the previous season.[25][26] The lowest-ranked teams were drawn into eight groups based on geographical proximity, with these preliminary games forming the tournament's opening two rounds.[25] The competition officially began on 17th September 1989, with 25 victorious clubs being drawn among the top seven best-ranked teams in Round 3.[25] Among the seven were defending champions Leasowe Pacific, who had beaten 1985 champions Friends of Fulham 3-2 in the 1989 Final.[27][1][25] Both clubs successfully made the quarter-finals, Pacific having beaten Cleveland Spartans 3-1 and Birmingham City 7-0, while Fulham overcame Crewe 4-0 and Bronte 2-1.[25] They would be joined by Arsenal, District Line, Ipswich Town, Preston Rangers, 1980 champions St Helens, and three-time champions Doncaster Belles.[28][25][27] The Belles, considered among the most dominant clubs of the era,[29][28] reached this round by beating Red Star Southampton 4-0, and Millwall Lionesses 3-2.[25]

The quarter-finals took place between 4th-11th March 1990.[25] Fulham defeated Arsenal 4-0, with Marieanne Spacey, Cheryl McAdam, Fiona Curl, and Lynn Jacobs all adding themselves to the scoresheet.[30][28][25] St Helens edged out District Line 2-1, with Preston Rangers obtaining the same result against Ipswich Town.[31][32][25] Finally, Doncaster and Leasowe competed in a grudge match.[28][25] Notably, the Belles defeated Pacific 3-1 to claim the 1988 Cup.[28][27] However, Leasowe gained vengeance by beating Doncaster 2-1 in the quarter-finals on route to its 1989 glory.[26][28] Their 1990 clash was comparatively one-sided, as the Belles demolished the defending champions 5-0.[33][25][28]

The WFA Cup Semi-Finals occurred on 21st April.[25] While a Doncaster-St Helens match would have been highly compelling for the early 1980s, the latter were no longer regarded as among England's elite.[28] This was reflected in the final score, where Gail Borman and Jackie Sherrard's hattricks plus a lone goal from Karen Skillcorn gave the Belles a dominant 7-0 victory.[28][25] Elsewhere, another Spacey goal helped Friends of Fulham achieve a 1-0 half-time lead over Preston Rangers.[34][25] In the second half, two goals by Brenda Sempare ensured a comfortable 3-0 victory.[34][28][25] However, while she was able to complete the match, Fulham and England's Euro 1984 Final goalkeeper Terry Wiseman cracked one of her ribs mid-play, which would affect her fitness heading into the Final.[4][28]

Two weeks prior, England hosted Belgium at Bramall Lane.[35][11][28] Unsurprisingly, several of the players included in the line-up played for Doncaster or Fulham.[28][35] Among them included midfielder and Belles captain Gillian Coultard, who also became the England skipper to replace an injured Debbie Bampton; fellow Belles midfielder Jackie Sherrard; Belles defender Karen Walker (as a substitute); and Fulham's Spacey and Sempare.[35][28] Both clubs' starting goalkeepers were also included in the final squad, but the Belles' Tracey Davidman was selected to start over Wiseman for this game.[28][35] The Lionesses ultimately triumphed 1-0 thanks to a 63rd-minute goal from Coultard.[36][35][11][28]

Following this, England lost 2-0 away to Norway on 27th May.[11][35] The teams faced off again on 2nd September, with England holding the Scandinavian side 0-0 at Old Trafford.[37] The Lionesses' subsequent goalless draw against Finland on 29th September put them through to the quarter-finals on seven points, four behind Norway, but three ahead of third-placed Finland.[11][12][37] Their qualifying decider was against the reigning European champions Germany.[11][37] Ultimately, the Lionesses were outmatched over two legs, losing 4-1 at home on 25th November, before losing the away game 2-0 on 16th December.[11][37][12] The 6-1 aggregate loss meant England failed to qualify for Euro 1991.[11] A double blow was that the match also decided qualification for the inaugural FIFA Women's World Cup.[11][28]

The Final

Meanwhile, the 1990 WFA Cup Final, the 20th edition of the Cup, was a rematch of the 1985 edition.[38][4][27][28] In that Final, Fulham defeated the Belles 2-0 courtesy of first-half goals from Cheryl McAdam and Cathy Hynes.[27] Both scorers would be present for Fulham five years later, but Doncaster were boosted by Coultard's inclusion.[4][28] Coultard was notably selected as captain by predecessor Shelia Edmunds, the wife of manager Paul.[4][28] Edmunds, who had just become a mother, would also be included as a substitute.[4][28] For Fulham, four players reportedly were nursing injuries, including the aforementioned Wiseman.[4][28] The team's defence was strengthened thanks to recent signings Karen Gale and Deborah Fox, while Fred Brockwell replaced George Curl as manager.[28] Meanwhile, Davidson, Sherrard, and Walker joined fellow England star Coultard in the line-up.[28] Alongside them was Jo Broadhurst, a right-winger whose performance was affected by a toe injury.[4][28] The Final was hosted at Derby County's Baseball Ground, made available because the Rams travelled to Manchester City's Maine Road for a 1-0 victory that same day.[39][40][28][4] It was also the first in WFA Cup history to be extended from 80 to 90 minutes.[4]

But before he departed for Manchester, Derby's goalkeeper Peter Shilton gave Wiseman and Davidson a training session, which was filmed as part of Channel 4's broadcast and allowed for publicity photos to boost the WFA's image.[4][28] Shilton was pleased with the goalkeepers' performances, while Wiseman and Davidson expressed gratitude to him as the training session helped identify lesser-known means for improvement.[4] Meanwhile, another film highlighted the performances of Coultard and Sempare, indicating to casual viewers that these were the players to watch.[4][17] Channel 4's coverage, titled Women's Soccer Final, would last for about 50 minutes, with Irvine and Law being joined in the presenting booth by Tommy Docherty, who had previously managed Chelsea, Scotland and Manchester United.[41][4][17] The broadcast occurred a day following the match, at 5:30 pm.[28][17] Also present in the stands was Alice Woods, the game's guest of honour.[4] In her lifetime, she was a decorated sprinter who played as a midfielder for Dick, Kerr in football matches before the FA banned women from playing at its affiliated grounds in December 1921.[42] Despite the FA's interference, Woods continued representing Preston until September 1928.[42] At age 91, she was considered England's oldest living female footballer.[4][42]

The Final itself occurred on 28th April, with 3,111 reportedly in attendance.[39][28][4] Fulham started strongly, putting the Belles on the defensive and forcing Davidson to make several saves.[28] However, Doncaster fought back amidst a highly-strung game, with Wiseman forced to tip a 25-yard Broadhurst free-kick just over the crossbar.[4][28] During a play, Spacey, who was fixated on stopping Coultard's advances, ended up inflicting a knock onto the latter, who nevertheless was able to continue.[28] Broadhurst again nearly put her side in front as her corner forced Wiseman to punch the ball away, only for Borman to fire a rebound shot that was narrowly blocked by Mandy O'Callaghan.[4] Borman shortly capitalised on a throw-in, with her chip over Wiseman denied by a Fulham defender.[4] Borman would receive subsequent opportunities thanks to Walker, who gave an irked Fox plenty of hassle in the bid to provide an opener.[28] An overly aggressive Spacey committed another foul on Coultard, with Broadhurst's free-kick again narrowly stopped by Wiseman.[4] As Spacey was focused on defence, her scoring opportunities were considerably limited.[4][28] Worse still, Sempare also struggled to break the Belles' defence.[28] The first half nevertheless ended goalless.[39]

In the second half, McAdam suffered an Achilles tendon injury after 52 minutes and was substituted for Terry Springett.[4][28][39] Sherrard's subsequent header was saved by Wiseman, while Fulham's defenders narrowly conceded a penalty when Borman was tackled in the box.[4] However, Borman avenged this by setting up a chance for Coultard just outside the Fulham box.[4] Coultard fired a powerful shot just as Wiseman's line of sight was partially blocked by a defender.[28] Wiseman therefore had no opportunity to save the shot, giving the Belles the lead after over 60 minutes.[28][4][39] Spacey's retaliation attempt was off-target and she soon found herself a victim of role reversal when Coultard knocked her over.[4][28] However, Coultard was again subject to another serious foul, this time by Springett.[4][28] Dave Philips subsequently booked Springett, which A History of the Women's FA Cup Final declared as the first time this occurred in WFA Cup Final history.[4][28][39] Spacey was the main threat for Doncaster; Broadhurst, who had performed well despite her toe injury, was subsequently for Yvonne Bagley to bolster the Belles' defensive might with ten minutes remaining.[28][39] Fulham responded by replacing team captain Lori Hoey with Dorrette Wilson.[39] Alas, despite some late Spacey attempts, Doncaster kept a clean sheet at the final whistle.[4][28][39]

With this victory, Doncaster became a four-time WFA Cup champion.[27][4][28] They had earlier become the 1989-90 North East Regional League champions, allowing them to achieve a double.[28] Post-match, Docherty praised the quality of both sides and believed Coultard's goal ranked among the best 1989-90 strikes from both the men's and women's leagues.[28][4] Beforehand, Parry and Law discussed the game's ill-tempered moments, particularly between Coultard and Spacey, and Walker and Fox.[4] The latter claimed these incidents were uncommon for the women's game.[4] Modern statistics indicate women's matches typically have fewer fouls than male counterparts, though some predict this may well change as the sport becomes more popular and competitive.[43] In an interview with A History of the Women's FA Cup Final, Coultard stated "Of the five winning finals I played in, this one was the highlight. Scoring the winner and being captain meant everything."[4] The Belles continued their strong WFA Cup record, reaching the next four consecutive Finals.[27] Friends of Fulham has no ties to the modern Fulham team, having embraced the Wimbledon name before its linage ended in the wake of the Wimbledon/Milton Keynes Dons controversy.[44][45][4] Its spiritual successor is therefore AFC Wimbledon.[45][4]


Each episode of Women's Soccer 1990 lasted just over 50 minutes, being broadcast between 8th-29th April.[10][18][19][21][17] VHS recordings have been preserved at the British Film Institute (BFI), which have been made publicly available.[18][19][21][17] Episodes 2 and 4 can be accessed at the BFI Southbank's Mediatheque, located in Central London.[46][19][17] Notably, A History of the Women's FA Cup Final and Women's Football Archive both based their Final match reports on the programme's highlights.[4][28]

However, even with Women's Soccer 1990's preservation, substantial footage from every showcased match is missing as no uncut tapes have been uncovered. The WFA Cup's quarter-finals were the most affected, as the four recordings had to be cut considerably to fit a 50-minute broadcast.[18] This may explain why The Women's FA Cup has been unable to find the list of scorers and line-up for every quarter-final bar the Arsenal-Friends of Fulham match, a problem exacerbated by poor preservation of WFA documents.[47][31][32][33] Similarly, the England-Belgium broadcast was altered so that report segments could be included.[19] The Final itself was least affected by editing, though at least 40 minutes of the match remains missing as of the present day.[4][18]

See Also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 A History of the Women's FA Cup Final summarising the 1989 Final and noting it was the first to receive a dedicated broadcast courtesy of Channel 4 (p.g. 104-109). Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 British Film Institute summarising Channel 4's broadcast of the 1989 Final. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 BBC Sports summarising the struggle for the Women's FA Cup to receive television coverage, with Channel 4 partially resolving this from 1989 to 1993. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 4.20 4.21 4.22 4.23 4.24 4.25 4.26 4.27 4.28 4.29 4.30 4.31 4.32 4.33 4.34 4.35 4.36 4.37 4.38 4.39 4.40 4.41 4.42 4.43 4.44 4.45 4.46 4.47 A History of the Women's FA Cup Final detailing the 1990 Final and noting its 50-minute Channel 4 highlights package (p.g. 110-115). Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  5. BBC summarising how the 1938 FA Cup Final was the first to be fully televised live. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  6. A History of the Women's FA Cup Final summarising the 1979 Final and noting some clips were televised on Multi-Coloured Swap Shop (p.g. 61-64). Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  7. 7.0 7.1 Independent reporting on the 1994 Final and its live satellite (Sky Sports) coverage. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  8. 8.0 8.1 A History of the Women's FA Cup Final summarising the 1994 Final and noting the match was the first to be fully televised live courtesy of Sky Sports (p.g. 128-131). Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Channel 4's 1990 annual report summarising its women's football coverage for 1990. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 10.8 British Film Institute summarising Women's Soccer 1990. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  11. 11.00 11.01 11.02 11.03 11.04 11.05 11.06 11.07 11.08 11.09 11.10 11.11 RSSSF detailing the results of the UEFA Women's Euro 1991. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 UEFA summarising the UEFA Women's Euro 1991. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  13. SportsAdda listing the Euro Finals and winners up to the 2022 edition. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 Archived University of Leicester's Department of Sociology's study on the growth of English women's football's popularity by 2002. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  15. 15.0 15.1 Women's Soccer United noting Channel 4's 1989 Final coverage drew around 2 million viewers. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  16. BBC News summarising key aspects that held the English women's game back for many years. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 17.5 17.6 British Film Institute summarising the fourth episode and noting it can be viewed at the BFI Southbank. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 18.5 British Film Institute summarising the first episode and its availability. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 19.5 19.6 British Film Institute summarising the second episode and noting it can be viewed at the BFI Southbank. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  20. National Football Museum page on Kerry Davis. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 British Film Institute summarising the third episode and its availability. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  22. BBC Sport summarising the career of Hazel Irvine. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  23. Women's Football Archive detailing the career of Sue Law. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  24. British Film Institute summarising Women's Soccer 1991. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  25. 25.00 25.01 25.02 25.03 25.04 25.05 25.06 25.07 25.08 25.09 25.10 25.11 25.12 25.13 25.14 25.15 The Women's FA Cup detailing the results of the 1990 WFA Cup. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  26. 26.0 26.1 The Women's FA Cup noting 98 competed for the 1989 WFA Cup. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 27.4 27.5 27.6 The Women's FA Cup providing the results of every WFA Cup Final. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  28. 28.00 28.01 28.02 28.03 28.04 28.05 28.06 28.07 28.08 28.09 28.10 28.11 28.12 28.13 28.14 28.15 28.16 28.17 28.18 28.19 28.20 28.21 28.22 28.23 28.24 28.25 28.26 28.27 28.28 28.29 28.30 28.31 28.32 28.33 28.34 28.35 28.36 28.37 28.38 28.39 28.40 28.41 28.42 28.43 28.44 28.45 28.46 Women's Football Archive providing a detailed report of the 1990 Final. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  29. Doncaster Rovers summarising the history and success of Doncaster Belles. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  30. The Women's FA Cup Final detailing the result of the Arsenal-Friends of Fulham match. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  31. 31.0 31.1 The Women's FA Cup detailing the result of the St Helens-District Line game and noting no scoresheet or starting line-up has been found. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  32. 32.0 32.1 The Women's FA Cup detailing the result of the Preston Rangers-Ipswich Town game and noting no scoresheet or starting line-up has been found. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  33. 33.0 33.1 The Women's FA Cup detailing the result of Doncaster Belles-Leasowe Pacific game and noting no scoresheet or starting line-up has been found. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  34. 34.0 34.1 The Women's FA Cup Final detailing the result of the Preston Rangers-Friends of Fulham match. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 35.3 35.4 35.5 England Football Online summarising the results of England's matches up to its 2-0 away defeat to Norway. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  36. KBVB detailing the result of the England-Belgium match. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  37. 37.0 37.1 37.2 37.3 England Football Online detailing the results of England's remaining qualifying matches. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  38. A History of the Women's FA Cup Final summarising the 1985 Final (p.g. 88-91). Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  39. 39.0 39.1 39.2 39.3 39.4 39.5 39.6 39.7 39.8 The Women's FA Cup Final detailing the result of the 1990 WFA Cup Final. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  40. 11 vs 11 detailing the result of the Derby County-Manchester City match that occurred at Maine Road on the same day as the Final. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  41. BBC Sport documenting the career of Tommy Docherty. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  42. 42.0 42.1 42.2 Spartacus Educational detailing the life and career of Alice Woods. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  43. BBC News summarising statistics surrounding rule violations in women's matches compared to men's. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  44. BBC Sport summarising the Wimbledon/Milton Keynes Dons divide. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  45. 45.0 45.1 AFC Wimbledon Women summarising its history and spiritual links to Friends of Fulham. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  46. Cullinan Studio summarising the BFI Southbank's Mediatheque. Retrieved 13th Dec '23
  47. BBC News reporting on the lost information surrounding early WFA Cup history. Retrieved 13th Dec '23