TV View: Fara Williams provides inspirational homeless story

Plenty of Irish parochial interest in Scotland and England for respective cup finals

Fara Williams never told her teammates about her homeless struggles. Photograph:  Joe Prior/Visionhaus

Fara Williams never told her teammates about her homeless struggles. Photograph: Joe Prior/Visionhaus

 

Not sure how your telly works, but on this one you’d nigh on need a PhD in computer science to tune in to BBC Alba. And once you succeed, with the assistance of several YouTube how-to videos, you then forget to save your settings before flicking over briefly to get the news headlines, so you have to start all over again.

But look, no complaints at all, the mere fact that live coverage of the Scottish women’s Premier League Cup Final was accessible at all was a very excellent thing, the highly parochial draw here being that seven Irish persons were involved in the occasion.

It was earlier in the day, ahead of the FA Cup final at Wembley, when Katie McCabe was the parochial draw, that we were reminded of how far the women’s game has come, this being the 100th anniversary of the English FA’s ban on the ladies playing in their grounds because the sport was “unsuitable for women”.

Now, the habit of attaching an historic struggly narrative to every single major women’s sporting occasion, rather than focussing on the day that’s in it, is usually enough to leave you extracting every strand of hair from your head, but it was grand on this day, the anniversary making the wander down memory lane forgivable.

Guests of honour at Wembley were Lesley Lloyd (Southampton) and Elsie Cook (Stewarton Thistle), the captains for the very first women’s FA Cup final back in 1971, the BBC’s Jo Currie reminding Lesley that her pre-match meal that day was a cheese and pickle sandwich.

Not everyone appreciated their footballing efforts. “I just can’t live with the idea of girls playing football or taking part in any of the physical contact sports,” said Frank Bough in an old clip the Beeb dug out for the day. “Am I just so out of date,” he asked Bob Wilson. “Yes,” he replied, “I think so.”

Poor old Frank had his troubles in later life, not least when he was spotted emerging from a ‘dungeon orgy’, like you do, so his inability to live with girls playing football proved to be the least of his problems.

Fara Williams, pundit for the day alongside Alex Scott, chuckled. “How far we’ve come,” she said, but it’s only two years since she won her 172nd cap for England, having spent seven of her 18 years playing for her country as a homeless person, leaving World Cup and European Championship camps wondering if she’d be able to find a hostel that night to give her a roof over her head.

She didn’t tell any of her teammates about her struggle, one that was caused by a family break-up, Williams feeling nothing but shame and embarrassment about her situation. Some story. One you’d like to think women’s football would never allow happen again, making the Fara Williams of this world comfortable enough to reach out and receive all the help they need.

No bitterness from her though, Chelsea’s 3-0 throttling of Arsenal - they should, quite literally, have won by three times that margin - in front of a crowd of 40,942, leaving her buzzing, her being a Chelsea fan.

Up to Partick Thistle’s Firhill Stadium where Celtic - with Tyler Toland and Izzy Atkinson in their ranks - were taking on Glasgow City - managed by Eileen Gleeson, their squad including Claire Walsh, Niamh Farrelly, Aoife Colvill and Clare Shine - in the League Cup Final.

It was zero degrees come half-time, which might have accounted for the teeth of the little lad and girl the camera picks out, with shamrocks painted on their cheeks, chattering so violently the richter scale might well have been triggered.

Celtic had people from Scotland, the United States, Australia, China, Ireland, Iceland, New Zealand and Canada in their squad, Glasgow including natives of Scotland, Ireland, Israel, South Africa, Portugal, Sweden, Costa Rica and England in theirs. And the commentary was two third Scots Gaelic, one third English, the happiest person come full-time the Spanish coach of winners Celtic.

Dizzy? Would ya stop.

“It’s a berry, berry magic day, we play unbeleebable,” said Fran Alonso of his team’s effort, which yielded their first trophy since 2010.

You can only hope they celebrated with more than a cheese and pickle sandwich. (Delicious and all as that sounds).

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