Outside the Box: Women's game unable to capitalise on London 2012


ESPN are to televise tomorrow's Women's Super League match between Birmingham City and Bristol Academy at Stratford Town, but the cameras seem unlikely to be homing in on what the Football Association are optimistically predicting as a "packed bank holiday crowd". Huge attendances for women's football at the Olympics – there were 70,000 at Great Britain's game with Brazil and 80,000 for the final between the United States and Japan – may have increased the profile of the women's game, but persuading many of those spectators to watch club matches is a serious challenge. When the League resumed earlier this month after pausing for the London Games, 289 turned up to see Doncaster play Everton. For Birmingham's game against Lincoln, in which Olympian Karen Carney scored with a spectacular free-kick, the attendance of 362 was actually down on their previous match in July. At least Everton were able to claim an increase, when 618 turned out for a top-of-the-table match against Arsenal featuring nine of the Olympic squad. The FA admitted average attendances of under 400 last week were "disappointing". A spokesman added: "We want to encourage everyone to keep supporting women's football by coming to see a WSL match for a different kind of fan experience. It is important not to lose the momentum that we gained from the summer."

Booked, but who is he?

The publication on Thursday of a book called I Am The Secret Footballer will increase the fevered speculation about the identity of the player. It is apparently known to three people, two of them executives of the Guardian newspaper, where the column The Secret Footballer has appeared for the past 19 months. The guessing game has a whole website devoted to it (whoisthesecretfootballer.co.uk). In fact, any further clues – like quoting Proust – may make it easier to rule players out than in. Evidence suggests that the author was brought up on a council estate in a dull town, reading his dad's literary classics; was a late starter; has played for more than one Premier League team, newly promoted as well as relegated; has been a captain; set a club-record transfer fee; is white, anti-authoritarian and has suffered from depression. Leading the website's poll is Bolton's Kevin Davies, a bright man who ticks several boxes but whose emergence as a 16-year-old with Chesterfield and later friendship with team-mate Gary Speed do not tally with the book.

Time to box clever, Curtis

Sheffield FC, officially the world's oldest club despite Cambridge University's protestations, have been forced to censure their new manager, Curtis Woodhouse for publicly taking sides between the city's two Championship teams. The combative Woodhouse, who fought as a light-welterweight after briefly retiring from football, has always been a Blade rather than an Owl, having captained Sheffield United, his first club, at 19. His chairman, secretary and two directors are all Wednesdayites and they have now issued a statement that reads: "We have a healthy relationship with both professional neighbours and enjoy support of fans from both clubs. [We] therefore should act as a 'neutral' conduit between the blue and white, and red and white sides of the city."

Walking a fine line

Which team scored a winning goal in the 19th minute of added time? Not Manchester United, but Grantham, whose Evo-Stik League Northern Premier Division game away to Stafford Rangers on Tuesday was extended by 19 minutes after a long hold-up when Grantham objected to a spectator (a qualified referee) stepping in to run the line after the referee limped off.

s.tongue@independent.co.uk; twitter.com/@stevetongue

Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths surrounding the enigmatic singer
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
Life and Style
Christian Benteke of Aston Villa celebrates scoring the winner for Aston Villa
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Bill O'Reilly attends The Hollywood Reporter 35 Most Powerful People In Media Celebration at The Four Seasons Restaurant on April 16, 2014 in New York City
media It is the second time he and the channel have clarified statements
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn