A WEST of Scotland childhood in the 1970s provided early lessons in the free-market economy and gangsterism. The unit of currency was a scrap of soft cardboard with a laminated photograph of a footballer on one side and a glowing description of his abilities on the rear. Eventually though, you worked out the hidden code and realised that “stalwart” meant “donkey” and “utility” meant “useless in every position”.

Long before my first year at school was over, I had been forced to accept some unfashionable Airdrie player like Paul Jonquin for my prized Harry Hood from the playground bam.

The old football cards have gone, replaced by Panini stickers and their glossy albums. In recent years I’ve returned to my childhood by obtaining some of these albums for the World Cups and European championships.

The National:

Thus I was delighted that Panini had produced a sticker album for the Women’s World Cup. How enlightened and progressive of them, I thought and what a good way for dads and granddads to connect with daughters and grand-daughters. Then I tried to find them. Thus far, I’ve tried several local outlets and had begun to question their existence until I read about seven-year-old England fan Immy Masterson who had met with similar disappointment.

Her mum approached Tesco’s Customer Service Department only to be told that they had no room for “girls’ lines” on account of the highly popular LOL Surprise stickers with their glittery dolls.

So, Immy wrote to Tesco asking for some answers. “I love football and I have been very excited about watching the Women’s World Cup. I was given the World Cup sticker book from my football club and was very happy to start collecting my stickers.

“I went to your supermarket today to spend my pocket money on the Women’s World Cup stickers but there wasn’t any there. Your store sold the men’s stickers, so why don’t you sell the women’s? Not having the women’s World Cup stickers is sending a bad message to girls everywhere that women are less important than men.”

She received a reply from Tesco which didn’t really answer the question. “We would like to apologise to Immy for not stocking the Panini stickers she was looking for at her local Tesco store but we do stock the FIFA Women’s World Cup sticker collection at our One Stop convenience stores, of which there are over 700 around the UK.”

Tesco neglected to point out that few of these exist in Scotland.

My own hunt for a Women’s World Cup sticker album continues.


TESCO and Sainsbury’s aren’t the only major UK brands to lose their footing over the Women’s World Cup.

This was BBC Scotland’s listing for Scotland’s opening match against England. “Which member of Scotland’s World Cup squad is the sassiest? Who is the doziest? Who likes to look all stunning on Instagram and who’s prone to some ‘sexy singing, on the team bus? BBC Scotland asked veteran midfielder Jo Love to reveal all about the first Scotland squad to compete at a World Cup in 21 years.”

Utterly, utterly embarrassing. Your national women’s team reach their first World Cup finals and make their debut against England, one of the tournament favourites. And our state broadcaster announces details of it on television by telling us who are the “sassiest”, “doziest” players and who likes to look “all stunning”.

Perhaps, by the time we play Japan tomorrow BBC Scotland will tell us who is our women’s favourite Spice Girl and who tops their poll of the best-looking male footballers.

Scotland did exceptionally well against England, one of the favourites and in the end were unlucky not to get at least a draw. In their last match against England they were beaten 6-0.

They now have an excellent chance to progress from this group, something their male counterparts failed to do in eight attempts. So, let’s just concentrate on their football abilities and leave the lifestyle analysis to a previous age.


FORTUNATELY, for those who tuned in to watch the Scotland v England game we had an all-female panel of former and present footballers. They each conducted their pre and post-match analysis calmly and with some authority and with no hint of the breathless, chauvinistic bias that has lately come to afflict male football analysts.

The Diary was recently told of a situation involving a male football presenter who has threatened to resign if he is “forced” to include more women on his predominantly male panels.

This follows a wretched incident earlier this year when Graeme Souness, admittedly one of our more articulate male football analysts, let himself down badly by displaying what might generously be described as a patronising and dismissive attitude to Alex Scott, the brilliant former Arsenal footballer who made 140 appearances for England.

The National:

Early television ratings figures showed indicate that the thrilling Scotland v England encounter reached a peak audience of 6.1 million viewers, thus making it the UK’s most watched women’s football game of all time. I can’t have been the only male in that audience who would now like to see more female analysts replacing the tired, old, cliché-ridden and predictable men who add nothing to our knowledge of the games they are over-paid to analyse.


IN the opening round of fixtures of this World Cup a pleasant culture shock greets those watching women’s football seriously for the first time. It takes a little while to register but gradually it begins to dawn on you that there has been little of the histrionics and simulation which afflicts the male game. Hard tackles are made honestly and there are few attempts to con referees. Borderline decisions are greeted with a minimum of protest, thus leaving us with more time to appreciate the actual football.

The National:

Sadly, the England team manager Phil Neville reverted to type immediately after his side’s narrow win over Scotland. There he was gesticulating angrily to his exhausted players out on the pitch in a childish bout of grandstanding, which owed more to macho posturing for the cameras than anything to do with coaching his players. It was also grossly disrespectful to the Scottish players as his immature finger-jabbing was contrived to tell everyone that he felt his players should have triumphed by a greater margin than 2-1.

Neville was a bang ordinary player who was very fortunate to stay as long as he did at Manchester United. He still has a lot to do to prove that he is worthy of his current job.