Outside the Box: Akers is lord of all he surveys when it comes to ladies' game
Sunday 10 May 2009
Not for years has the FA Women's Premier League been able to boast of an exciting finish, but the climax to the season today could hardly be better. For once Arsenal, handicapped by defections to the United States and at least one pregnancy, have not run away with the title. They recently had an extraordinary unbeaten run of 108 League games ended by Everton, and must win the return match on Merseyside this afternoon to secure a sixth successive title and a 32nd trophy in 22 years as manager for Vic Akers, who is now retiring. Everton remain unbeaten, though they left it late in the penultimate game on Wednesday before Natasha Dowie scored a hat-trick in the last five minutes to see off the splendidly named Doncaster Belles. It will be a tense afternoon for Akers; he cannot attend the game as he will be on duty for Arsène Wenger's side at the Emirates Stadium, in his day job as kit manager. The Football Association are launching a semi-professional women's summer league from 2011. Meanwhile, watch out next season for Chelsea, who have finished as high as third for the first time by investing heavily. Sound familiar?
Fort's defences are down
A further update on clubs who this season has not treated kindly. Up in Scotland, time is running out for Fort William to improve on last season's modest total of three points in the Highland League. They have drawn one and lost 25 so far. Goal difference at present: for 14, against 112.
For Agogo the end is Nile
A new candidate has emerged for the title of the most disastrous transfer in history, the USP of this one being that El Zamalek of Cairo want £2.65 million in compensation for the alleged "lack of commitment" that has been shown by the former Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest striker Junior Agogo. After playing only eight games he refused to train for three months, claiming that the club did not pay his agreed wages.
Any young Irons welcome
West Ham United were known as "the Academy" long before the term came into more general use at every club and they are staying ahead of the game by scouting boys almost as soon as they can walk. The club programme says parents of budding Frank Lampards and Rio Ferdinands should make themselves known: "Boys in reception class, year one and year two can attend special days at the new academy development centre. Full-time academy coaches run the rule over them."
Paving the way to success
What do the Aston Villa team of 1982 have in common with Ozzy Osbourne, 'The Archers' and Murray Walker? They all now have their own star in the Walk Of Stars on Broad Street, Birmingham, a sort of regional version of Hollywood's Walk of Fame. Jasper Carrott and Noddy Holder are other local heroes to have been honoured and this year special attention is being paid to football. Villa's 1982 European Cup-winners were presented with their star at half-time in last Monday's home game against Hull and one player from Birmingham, West Bromwich Albion, Wolves and Walsall will join them. Tony "Bomber" Brown is hot favourite to be named today as the choice of Albion fans, ahead of Cyrille Regis, Bobby Hope, Bob Taylor and the less obvious Jonathan Greening, who has the good grace to admit that his nomination led to "a bit of banter" in the dressing-room. Understandably so.
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