Sport on TV: The ladies who launch are not afraid to get their hands dirty

 

Liverpool versus Manchester City: the drama, the emotion, the large numbers of blond ponytails swishing in the Widnes wind. Who needs the Premier League title race? As the new Women’s Super League kicked off last week, champions Liverpool took on newcomers City at the Vikings’ less than salubrious Select Security stadium.

It was not quite as glamorous as last Sunday’s epic contest at Anfield – and a lot muddier. Those ponytails will have needed some serious shampoo and conditioner. That’s probably sexist, and anyway Martin Demichelis no doubt spends a lot more time on his hair.

The Liverpool Ladies are nothing like the breed who totter around Aintree on Ladies’ Day, though they could have done with some high heels to get a bit of purchase in the rugby league mud.

It remains a mystery why so many of the WSL teams carry the suffix “Ladies”, it seems so old fashioned and daft in an era when they want to attract interest – and women’s sport is crying out for greater participation.

City are new to the top flight, this was effectively their first game since a complete overhaul of the club, and they are defiantly known as Manchester City Women. It’s not because they are not ladylike, though like their moneybags menfolk they are trying to buy success. It’s not too sexist to say they have been doing a lot of shopping: we are told they have bought 11 players, which sounds suspiciously like a completely new team.

Manchester United still don’t have a team in the top two divisions. “Most of the clubs are really making an effort and you’d think one of the top clubs in the world would do that,” said pundit Lucy Ward. “They’ve chosen not to do that,” she added rather witheringly.

Liverpool were given a boost last season, we are told, when they went full-time, were allowed to use the training ground and were addressed by Brendan Rodgers. But perhaps it’s the women who inspired the men. They won the title first, after all.

Ward pointed out that for male managers it’s “easier to coach women but more difficult to manage them”, presumably because when the gaffer tells them tactics, they think they know better.

The men’s game could learn a few things from the WSL. They don’t tend to argue with the ref, even when a goal was disallowed for a dubious handball by Katie Longhurst. She just looked stunned, like she had been slapped in the face – which she probably had been, by the ball. Their manager Matt Beard was still chuntering about it to the fourth official half an hour later.

And it’s nice to see them wiping the mud off each other’s faces like it was some kind of spa treatment. Ward suggested they checked Longhurst’s hands to see if there was any mud on them after the goal was wiped off. Commentator Steve Bower said: “I thought you had let that one go.” Clearly female pundits keep griping as much as their male colleagues, presumably on the principle that if you throw enough mud it will stick.

One comment that you might not normally hear from the male pundits after a hard tackle is “I bet she’s got a right burn on her leg after that”. But it maybe simply be a variation on the old favourite “he’s literally on fire”.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before