Lionesses aim to keep pride intact
Pete Davies looks at the trials of Millwall's better half
Sunday 23 March 1997
Lou Waller was one; now 27, she is 5ft 3in of midfielder as tenacious as she is slight. "We had to shunt all the teams up," she recalls. "The reserves became the seniors, the juniors became the reserves." For the next few years, Millwall were sending out 14-year-olds - but they stayed together and grew up, and now they are in today's Women's League Cup final against Everton at Barnet.
Many of the squad are still under 20 but, says Waller: "They've got far more experience than most players of that age, and we're getting the rewards for it."
Given the straitened times at Millwall, it is a tribute to their community scheme (and to Waller herself, employed specifically to develop girls' and women's football) that they've made it to another final. As their manager Jim Hicks says: "Any positive news just now, the club's got to use it. We've always felt we were an integral part of things here, so it's nice to have something to show for it."
Whether they get a trophy to show for it depends, of course, on Everton. Formerly Leasowe Pacific, they only became part of the Goodison set-up this season; they have never been in a final before, and on paper Millwall have the edge. The Londoners have had five players in the England squad this season; Pauline Cope is widely acknowledged to be the best goalkeeper in Britain, Waller is a composed anchor at the hub of the team, and the wide midfielder Tina Lindsay has the wit and pace to alarm any defence.
Waller, however, does not underestimate Everton for a minute. "They're well organised, fit and strong, hard to break down, very good on set pieces - and Maureen Marley at centre-half's a good athlete."
Latest in Sport
Robin van Persie to Fenerbahce: Manchester United striker 'agrees to personal terms' with Turkish side
Arsenal defender Kieran Gibbs posts bizarre video of his Miami holiday being invaded by an iguana
Women's World Cup 2015: England secure third place as they beat Germany in extra time with penalty by Fara Williams
Arsenal transfer news: Gunners will only consider 'astronomical offer' from Atletico Madrid for Santi Cazorla
Why is it that there’s no women’s team at Manchester United? - Michael Calvin
- 1 Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
- 2 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 3 Right to die: Belgian doctors rule depressed 24-year-old woman has right to end her life
- 4 The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
- 5 German man found living with 300 rats in tiny apartment
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...