Supporting Women's Football
We’ve spoken to and photographed a lot of ladies over the last few years, so in the run up to the Women’s World Cup this summer, we want to turn the spotlight on to some incredible fellas who are doing their bit for the development of the women’s game. A few weeks ago we headed to an icy game at Kingsmeadow Stadium, and caught up with Chelsea Women’s fan Martin Cottle ahead of their clash with Birmingham City to hear about his love for his team, and his hopes for the future of the game.
I’ve been supporting Chelsea Women’s for the last three years. I’m a Bristol City mens fan, and I saw on their website that Bristol City Women were playing Chelsea Women in a pre-season friendly, and I said to my wife - “I wouldn’t mind going to that”. We went up, as it wasn’t far away from where we lived, and we enjoyed the day so much, we just had to go back. There are so many positives in the women’s game. You don’t get the aggression you get in the men’s game, it’s very self policing in the sense that everyone’s got respect for everybody and it’s a lot more affordable for a family, and the quality of football at Chelsea is very very good. Now we’re addicted - we go home and away.
It seems like it’s getting bigger every week, the Chelsea Supporters group I’m in, we’re not individuals anymore, we’re like one big family. We all help each other out, we have such a good time. We celebrate every goal now with a piece of Galaxy - so we call ourselves the Galaxy crew, and we share it with Emma Hayes as well - so if we win, Emma gets a section of the Galaxy too. At Christmas we presented her with a giant block of it. I said to one of the girls, don’t score too many goals, it’s costing me a fortune!
I coach as well. I coach under 18s, under 15s and under 11s. And when we started, 5 years ago now, there was one team - we’ve got about 9 girls teams now. But I look at these girls, and think which one of you have experienced a women's game - very few. There is still such a disconnect, because it’s not being promoted enough, and that’s exactly what it needs.
I’ll tell you a story about the school my daughter goes to. Before we chose that school, we said “You say in your brochure, that you’ve got a girls football team - and we know you haven’t”. And the headteacher said, “Haven’t we?”. I said my daughters not coming to this school unless you’ve got a girls football team. “I’ll get onto that” she said. A before you know it, bang, she’s done it, she’s kept to her word and my daughters at that school playing football with the girls and the boys.
My player to watch this summer has to be Erin Cuthbert. That Scottish team, maybe they're not the best technical team, but god they’ve got spirit. The spirit in those girls is just amazing, it’s lovely to watch - they all play with their hearts. I want Scotland to do well, I like the way they play their football, they play with so much passion. We’re looking forward to the World Cup immensely. I’ve never travelled away with England men before, so this is all new to me!
Huge thanks to Martin and Chelsea Women’s Supporters group for taking the time to talk to us.