Women's Soccer 1991 (lost footage of English and international football matches; 1991)

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Programme for the England-Scotland match.

Status: Lost

Women's Soccer 1991 was a Channel 4 series dedicated to covering prominent English and international women's football matches. Broadcast between 14th-28th April 1991, it contained highlights of the later stages of the 1991 WFA Cup Final, as well as the England-Scotland game on 20th April 1991. The WFA Cup Final saw Millwall Lionesses defeat Doncaster Belles 1-0 in front of around 4,000 at Preston Road to claim their first title.


Women's Soccer 1991 was a sequel to Channel 4's Women's Soccer 1990, which expanded the broadcaster's women's game coverage beyond the WFA Cup Final that it provided highlights of since 1989.[1][2][3][4] Though British Film Institute's summary of the series is rather vague compared to its 1990 documentation,[1][2] it and other sources confirm that highlights from the Semi-Finals and Final of the 1991 WFA Cup were televised, as was the England-Scotland game on 20th April 1991.[5][6][7][8] The latter marked England's first game since its failure to qualify for the UEFA Women's Euro 1991 and the 1991 FIFA Women's World Cup.[9][10][11] Scotland did not attend qualification; in fact, its last game was a 4-0 loss to the Lionesses on 12th May 1990.[11][9] This "Auld Enemy" rivalry, which officially began in November 1972,[12] was considerably one-sided compared to the men's.[11] Of eleven prior clashes, England had won 10 and lost the other.[11] Meanwhile, Doncaster Belles were the defending WFA Cup champions, having defeated Friends of Fulham 1-0 in the previous year's Final.[13][14][7]

For Women's Soccer 1991, Double Bill Productions took over from Trans World International,[1] which had been producing Channel 4's women's coverage since 1989.[4][2] Under the direction of Mike Wilmot, the broadcasts again aired on tape delay.[15][1] One key difference in Double Bill's coverage was that pre-match interviews were screened as overlays during the matches.[15] Hazel Irvine and Alan Parry resumed their roles as the show's presenter and match commentator respectively.[1][2] The broadcasts were again influential in English women's football's growing popularity, inspiring future Lioness representatives like Mary Phillip.[16][17][3] Channel 4's now-regular airings of women's football matches was also praised in Parliament in an Early Day Motion on 29th April 1991, backed by twelve Labour signatures.[16] Its coverage would continue until Sky Sports obtained live broadcasting rights in 1994.[3][17]

Road to the WFA Cup Final and England vs Scotland

While no sources officially confirm this, this article assumes that the 1991 WFA Cup's quarter-final stages were also covered by Channel 4, reflecting its 1990 broadcasts.[18] In total, 133 teams entered the tournament, an increase of 43 from the previous year.[19][20] The tournament began on 7th October 1990; Doncaster Belles, as the reigning champions, received a bye to the Fourth Round.[19][7][14] The Belles defeated District Line 17-2 and Bronte 10-0 to reach the quarter-finals.[19][7] In contrast, Millwall Lionesses were among 125 teams who entered the First Round, where they were split into eight geographical-based groups.[19][7] Millwall was placed in Group 4; they beat Ipswich Advance 16-0, Tottenham 12-0, and Romford 6-0 to escape the group rounds.[19][7] In Round 4, they had a walkover against an injury-plagued Spurs, before they edged out Red Star Southampton 2-1 to make the last 8.[7][19] Joining the Belles and Lionesses were Arsenal, Davies Argyle, 1985 champions and previous year's runners-up Friends of Fulham, Ipswich Town, 1989 champions Leasowe Pacific, and Notts Rangers.[19][7][14]

In the quarter-finals, Davies Argyle held Arsenal 2-2 on 3rd March 1991.[19] A week later, the Vic Akers-managed Arsenal won the replay 3-0, which allowed the eventual most successful WFA Cup team to reach the semi-final stages for the first time.[21][19][7] In contrast, the Belles thrashed Ipswich Town 11-1, while Millwall overcame Notts Rangers 2-1.[19][7] Finally, in a rematch of the 1989 Final,[14] Leasowe Pacific again prevailed thanks to a 2-1 victory against Friends of Fulham.[19] Leasowe would go no further as on 7th April 1991, the Belles achieved yet another dominant victory, the final score being 8-1 in part thanks to a Karen Walker hat-trick.[22][19][7][15] The other semi-final was somewhat of a grudge match, not only because Arsenal and Millwall were London clubs, but also that the former had acquired three former Lionesses in quick succession.[7] Millwall edged out the Gunners 2-1 to reach their first Final.[23][7][19] An unfortunate aspect is that no scorers for any of the quarter-final and semi-final matches were listed by The Women's FA Cup Final, likely stemming from poor preservation of WFA documents.[24][22][23]

A week before the Final, the England-Scotland match commenced.[7][10] It occurred in front of 700 at Wycombe Wanderers' Adams Park.[8][7][10] The ground was likely obtained as the Chairboys had travelled to Boston United for a 1-0 win the day prior.[25] Perhaps unsurprisingly, the England line-up consisted of many Doncaster and Millwall players.[7][8] Belles representatives included midfielder and captain Gillian Coultard, defender Jackie Sherrard and forwards Jan Murray and Gail Borman, the latter as a substitute.[7][8] Meanwhile, Lioness midfielder Lou Waller was also called up, while defender Sue Law was among the substitutes.[7][8] Midfielders Hope Powell and Debbie Bampton were unused substitutes, the latter still healing from an injury.[7][15] Goalkeepers Tracey Davidson and Lesley Shipp were overlooked in favour of Friends of Fulham's Terry Wiseman.[7][8] Not much is known surrounding the Scotland side; the match programme does list a starting eleven, but this was published days beforehand when the line-up could be subject to change.[26] Particularly, Non League Matters forum user Lord Kinnaird noted that Walker and Murray were listed as substitutes, whereas Powell was advertised as part of the Lionesses' inaugural line-up.[26] The encounter also marked Barrie Williams' first match as the England manager.[7]

Doncaster and Millwall players were exclusively responsible for England's opening goal.[8] Murray's corner reached Sherrard, who subsequently connected a single touch to allow Walker to open the scoreline.[8] Soon afterwards, Friends of Fulham player Brenda Sempare was fouled,[27] giving the Lionesses a free-kick opportunity.[8] Fellow Friends of Fulham player Marieanne Spacey converted to make it 2-0.[28][8] Three minutes before half-time, a Murray corner allowed Coultard to set up Walker's second strike, which emerged from the six-yard mark.[8] After 50 minutes, Sempare was replaced by Law, while Walker was substituted in favour of Borman three minutes later.[8][7] In the 65th minute, Spacey scored a 20-yard volley that drew immense praise from the 26th April 1991 issue of Bucks Free Press.[8] It took only two more minutes for her hat-trick to arise, her 14th of 28 goals she would score for England during her international career.[8][28][7][10] With the final score 5-0, the Bucks Free Press summarised that England had outclassed the Auld Enemy in every favourable attribute.[8][7][10] The next England-Scotland game occurred a year later on 18th April 1992, which saw the Lionesses achieve a 1-0 win.[10]

The Final

Heading into the WFA Cup Final, Doncaster Belles were deemed the overwhelming favourites.[15][7] With a fifth title up for grabs, Doncaster continued their dominant run in the WFA Cup since 1983, having demolished every team on the road to the 1991 Final.[7][15][19][14] The Belles had also easily wrapped up the 1990–91 North East Regional League and reportedly had remained unbeaten for two years.[7] Millwall were naturally considered major underdogs, especially as their run saw them narrowly edge out three teams via 2-1 results.[15][7][19] It was also their first Final, having previously been denied entry into the 1987 and 1988 Finals by the Belles.[7][14] Still, the Lionesses did boast some advantages; for instance, they had top players like the aforementioned Waller and future England manager Powell.[7][15] Further, captain Bampton had fully recovered from her injury, and was joined by Yvonne Baldeo.[15][7] The Belles likely remembered both players for their roles in Howbury Granges' 4-2 victory over them in the 1984 Final.[29][15][7][14] Additionally, the Lionesses' set-up was ahead of its time.[15] Unlike most women's clubs who participated as independent entities, the Lionesses were officially linked to Football League club Millwall and with it could gain vital Millwall Community funding.[30][15] In contrast, the Belles remained fully independent until they partially merged with Doncaster Rovers in July 2003.[31]

As Tranmere Rovers travelled for a 2-0 Third Division win over Mansfield Town,[32] it allowed Prenton Park to be selected for the Final.[33] There is some conflict regarding the match's attendance; The Women's FA Cup claims 1,120 went to Prenton Park, but an issue of the Liverpool Echo reckons 4,020 attended.[33] Both A History of the Women's FA Cup Final and Women's Football Archive agree that at least 4,000 fans saw the game, a record for the WFA Cup that was also likely cited in Parliament to demonstrate women's football's growing fandom.[15][7][16] The Final was sponsored by Mycil, who had also backed the England-Scotland match.[15][7][8][16] 50 minutes of highlights were televised by Channel 4 the following day.[6][7][15] Beforehand, it had conducted a pre-match interview with Walker, as well as a segment which saw Shipp receive vital goalkeeper practice with Arsenal star David Seaman.[15] Irvine also decided to conduct mid-game interviews, including with Doncaster and Millwall managers Paul Edmunds and Alan Wooler respectively, and WFA secretary Linda Whitehead.[34][15][7]

The match kicked off on 27th April 1991.[33][7] Throughout the game, a sweeper system was enforced by the sides.[15] This involved having a defender behind the back line, being both the last line of defence and a key playmaker for counter-attacks.[35] As both teams boasted three forwards in their formations, the sweeper logic appeared sound.[7][35] A header from Millwall's Maureen Jacobsen, who had also recovered from a recent injury, was narrowly denied by a defender from crossing the goal line.[15][7] The defending champions relied upon Walker and Murray for their opening attacks; the latter, whose corners greatly contributed to England's domination of Scotland a week prior,[8] nearly psyched out Shipp with one in the early stages.[15] Soon afterwards, a Powell shot could only be deflected by Davidson, giving Lynne McCormick a chance at an open goal.[15] Alas, her shot somehow ended up off-target.[15] Coultard, the lone scorer of the previous Final,[13] witnessed her chance be denied by Shipp.[15] Concern soon emerged when it appeared she suffered an ankle injury just before halftime.[15] But after being taken off the pitch, a medical examination revealed she was fit to play for the second half.[15][7]

In the second half, a Borman corner could only be headed wide by Walker.[15] A header from Jacobsen via a Maria Luckhurst free kick and McCormick's subsequent volley also failed to hit the target.[15] A recovered Coultard attempted to punish these missed opportunities, but her shot rebounded off the crossbar.[15] In the 65th minute, the Lionesses' Jane Bartley fired a corner; amidst the chaos in the Belles' box, Baldeo capitalised via a 6-yard shot to give her side the lead.[15][7][33] In subsequent counter-attacks, a header from Sherrard and a lob by Walker narrowly missed the Millwall goal.[15] The match soon took its toll on several players.[7] For instance, Coultard was taken off a second time, though once again was able to limp back into play.[7] Sherrard's mouth became busted open during an incident, while Baldeo became the only player substituted, in favour of fellow striker Karen Farley, after also suffering badly in the late stages of play.[7][15][33] Three other players suffered cramps; the extent of incidents meant 14 minutes of added time was required.[7] In the Belles' final plays, Coultard's shot went wide, while Sherrard's powerful strike was rebounded by Tina Mapes, knocking the young Millwall defender onto the ground.[7][15] This, however, enabled her side to achieve a 1-0 victory as the final whistle blew.[7][15][33]

Post-match, the Lionesses received the prestigious cup from guest of honour Marina Dalglish, the wife of Kenny Dalglish.[7][15] She also expressed condolences to a disappointed Belles side, who amazingly only conceded eight goals throughout the 1990-91 season.[7] In later interviews, Powell discussed how her team's victory was a remarkable one considering Doncaster's seemingly unstoppable run during the tournament.[36] She also expressed in her autobiography Hope: My Life in Football how the game was "a real war of attrition", reflected by the extent of injuries and the battle to achieve the lone goal.[37][7] The match received limited newspaper coverage, but the Lionesses were congratulated in Parliament two days later.[7][16] While the Belles were disappointed in the outcome, they rebounded by reaching the next three WFA Cup Finals.[7][15][14] In contrast, Millwall failed to build on their run following internal strife not helped by a failed takeover by Ron Noades.[7] Many of its key players instead bolstered Arsenal and Croydon's ranks, which forced the Lionesses to completely rebuild its team.[38][39][40] Nevertheless, the insistence on youth development and the loyalty of Shipp and Waller paid off,[39][40] as Millwall would defeat Wembley 1-0 in the 1997 Final to claim their second, and to date, last, WFA Cup.[38][30][14]


Highlights from the semi-finals and Final of the 1991 WFA Cup Final were televised by Channel 4 a day after they occurred, on 14th and 28th April 1991.[5][6] It can therefore be safely assumed that the England-Scotland highlights were broadcast on 21st April. But whereas the British Film Institute possessed copies of every Women's Soccer 1990 tape,[2] this proved not the case for its sequel.[1] The recordings still exist in the Channel 4 archives as A History of the Women's FA Cup Final harnessed it for its Final match report.[15] However, considering the private - and rather infamously - poorly managed nature of Channel 4's archives, it is unlikely these tapes will be publicly released.[41] Even if the airings were made available, the full uncut films of each match would still remain unaccounted for, having been altered significantly to meet one-hour broadcast limits.[7]

See Also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 British Film Institute summarising Women's Soccer 1991. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 British Film Institute Summarising Women's Soccer 1990 and how it was produced by a different company. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 BBC Sport summarising Channel 4's coverage of the WFA Cup from 1989 to 1993. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  4. 4.0 4.1 British Film Institute summarising Channel 4's broadcast of the 1989 WFA Cup Final. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  5. 5.0 5.1 British Film Institute summarising the Semi-Finals episode broadcast on 14th April 1991. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 British Film Institute summarising the Final episode broadcast on 28th April 1991. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 7.12 7.13 7.14 7.15 7.16 7.17 7.18 7.19 7.20 7.21 7.22 7.23 7.24 7.25 7.26 7.27 7.28 7.29 7.30 7.31 7.32 7.33 7.34 7.35 7.36 7.37 7.38 7.39 7.40 7.41 7.42 7.43 7.44 7.45 7.46 7.47 7.48 7.49 7.50 7.51 7.52 7.53 Women's Football Archive detailing the 1991 WFA Cup Final and noting the England-Scotland match was also televised by Channel 4. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  8. 8.00 8.01 8.02 8.03 8.04 8.05 8.06 8.07 8.08 8.09 8.10 8.11 8.12 8.13 8.14 8.15 8.16 26th April 1991 issue of the Bucks Free Press providing a match report of the England-Scotland game (found on Non League Matters Forums). Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  9. 9.0 9.1 RSSSF detailing the European qualification stages for Euro 1991 and the 1991 FIFA Women's World Cup. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 England Football Online detailing the results of the England national women's team from August 1990 to June 2000. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 History of the Women's Football Association detailing England's record from 1972 up to November 1992. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  12. She Kicks summarising the first official clash between England and Scotland on 18th November 1972. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  13. 13.0 13.1 The Women's FA Cup Final detailing the result of the 1990 WFA Cup Final and other statistics. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 14.7 14.8 The Women's FA Cup Final detailing the result of every WFA Cup Final. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  15. 15.00 15.01 15.02 15.03 15.04 15.05 15.06 15.07 15.08 15.09 15.10 15.11 15.12 15.13 15.14 15.15 15.16 15.17 15.18 15.19 15.20 15.21 15.22 15.23 15.24 15.25 15.26 15.27 15.28 15.29 15.30 15.31 15.32 15.33 15.34 15.35 A History of the Women's FA Cup Final detailing the Final (p.g. 116-120). Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 Early Day Motion 764 tabled on 29th April 1991, which congratulated Millwall for their win and praised the growing popularity and television coverage of women's football. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  17. 17.0 17.1 Archived University of Leicester's Department of Sociology report detailing the growing popularity of English women's football in the 1990s and early-2000s, in part thanks to Channel 4's coverage. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  18. British Film Institute summarising Women's Soccer 1990's coverage of the 1990 WFA Cup quarter-finals. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  19. 19.00 19.01 19.02 19.03 19.04 19.05 19.06 19.07 19.08 19.09 19.10 19.11 19.12 19.13 19.14 The Women's FA Cup detailing the results of the tournament. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  20. The Women's FA Cup detailing the results and entrants of the 1990 WFA Cup. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  21. Just Arsenal News detailing the rise of Arsenal from the late-1980s onwards. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  22. 22.0 22.1 The Women's FA Cup detailing the result of the Doncaster Belles-Leasowe Pacific match and noting the lack of line-up and scorer information. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  23. 23.0 23.1 The Women's FA Cup Final detailing the result of the Arsenal-Millwall Lionesses match and noting the lack of line-up and scorer information. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  24. BBC News reporting on the poor preservation of WFA Cup documentation and the efforts to recover them. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  25. Chairboys noting that Wycombe Wanderers played away to Boston United a day before the international game. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  26. 26.0 26.1 Non League Matters discussing a match programme and report into the international, with the programme having promoted line-ups that were subject to change. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  27. National Football Museum page on Brenda Sempare. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  28. 28.0 28.1 National Football Museum page on Marieanne Spacey. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  29. 90 Min summarising Howbury Granges' against-the-odds 1984 Final win over Doncaster Belles. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  30. 30.0 30.1 Millwall FC summarising the Millwall Lionesses and its link-up with Millwall and its community programme. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  31. Archived Doncaster Rovers announcing the merger between themselves and the Belles. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  32. 11 vs 11 detailing the result of Tranmere Rovers' away match against Mansfield Town on the same day as the Final. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 33.3 33.4 33.5 The Women's FA Cup detailing the result of the Final and other statistics. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  34. Women's Football Archive page on Linda Whitehead. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  35. 35.0 35.1 Football Whispers explaining the sweeper system. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  36. Women's FA Cup summarising Powell's comments about her team's unlikely victory against Doncaster in the Final. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  37. Hope: My Life in Football where Hope Powell discussed the Final. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  38. 38.0 38.1 Women's Football Archive detailing the careers of the Millwall Lionesses team following the Final. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  39. 39.0 39.1 Independent previewing the Millwall team in 1997, rebuilt after the 1991 Final. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  40. 40.0 40.1 Our Game Magazine summarising how Millwall recovered by 1997, winning that year's WFA Cup. Retrieved 24th Dec '23
  41. Transdiffusion detailing the issues surrounding the Channel 4 archives. Retrieved 24th Dec '23