Blogs Man with flags at MCWFC

Published on September 8th, 2014 | by Ian Cheeseman

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“Is it fair to compare?” | Ian Cheeseman on MCWFC

Ian Cheeseman attended MCWFC’s game against Chelsea Ladies at Ewen Fields on Sunday afternoon, here’s what he had to say about the match:

I’ve attended over 3000 football matches, and only four or five of those have been played by women. The trouble is that having watched all those games and got used to a certain rhythm of the game, I find it almost impossible to watch a women’s game without constantly comparing it to a men’s game, in my head. Men’s football and women’s football are very different, even though, on the face of it, they’re the same.

The differences are obvious, speed, strength, physicality, and let’s not kid ourselves, those are the differences between men and women: “Vive la Difference” I say.

I went along to City’s game against Chelsea, in the semi-finals of the Continental Cup, and for much of the first half, that in-head comparison continued. I felt frustrated that the game wasn’t played with a quicker tempo and with more power. I didn’t want to feel like that, but I couldn’t help myself.

At half time I spoke to several fans in the crowd, many there to see their first women’s game. They were there, in the main, to support City, and being partisan definitely makes a difference. Buoyed by that passion from the Blues I spoke to, and standing among the more passionate, knowledgable “City Women” fans, as I did for much of the second half, I started to watch the game differently.

MCWFC celebrating goal

Toni Duggan celebrates her goal with her teammates

I could see the passion from the players, not that there was any doubt about that, but also the commitment and togetherness within the City team. There was a villain too! Eniola Ogimi, the Chelsea number nine, had left her foot in for a challenge with the City keeper Karen Bardsley, both players were shown yellow cards, the crowd felt Ms Byrne, the referee, should have shown a red to Ogimi.

I forgot about comparing the men’s game with the women’s game, suddenly I was involved and it felt good, then right in front of me, the star of the City team, Toni Duggan, slid a goal past the Chelsea keeper and was buried under an avalanche of teammate’s bodies.

There were several reasons I’d gone to the game at Ewen Fields, one was because Steph Houghton, the City and England skipper, had agreed to be my guest on Blue Tuesday. I’d seen her lead the team a couple of times already this season, but if wanted to be there for this big game, so that I could contribute something meaningful to our conversation on BBC Radio Manchester. I believe in honesty, sincerity and don’t like bullsh*t.

Steph Houghton with Mum

Steph Houghton with her Mum after the game

I was impressed by many individual performances within the City team, and Houghton’s calm control at the back was as noteworthy as any, although I do confess to a soft spot for midfielder Betsy Hassett, a very focused, disciplined patroller of the central area; an often unappreciated position.

I was thrilled that City had progressed through to the final, where they’ll play Arsenal. After the game I introduced myself to Steph, recorded a quick promo video for Blue Tuesday with her and then watched her joyously celebrate with her Gran, Dad and Mum.

I can’t wait to meet her again, when we’ll discuss the way City have embraced the Women’s game, and so much more.

Jean-Louis DuPont, the Belgian lawyer set to challenge FFP, and another surprise guest make up the line-up this week, so make sure you’re listening – it promises to be a good one!

If you’ve heard other radio programmes, maybe it would be unfair to compare, just accept Blue Tuesday for what it is, something different, something City, and accept it in it’s own right – see what I did there 😉

Up the Blues!

Click here to see Ian’s interview with MCWFC’s captain Steph Houghton!

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