We all know the story, and it starts with greed. Our antagonist in this story, Henry Norris, acquires a club in crisis and wants to buy success. Despite staunch local and League opposition, his new investment is transplanted into the backyard of Tottenham Hotspur in search of new fans in a more densely populated north London.
The onset of the Great War meant the League was put on hold. Come 1919 as Football was to resume the League met to make amendments to existing arrangements. The nefarious Norris with profit at stake, using his clout (and probably secret handshakes) went about lobbying and arranging the demotion of Spurs to the second division, usurped by Woolwich despite them finishing outside of the promotional places. The newly formed league included them, not us. And it had nothing to do with football.
The sense of injustice laid a firm foundation for an enmity that has only grown over past century. No one would question that the rivalry between Tottenham and Woolwich is one of the greatest in football, and in a strange way it’s something we love about our club, it unites us and serves as a measure of balance and position.
Fast forward to 2013 and we could just be seeing the beginnings of another great rivalry brought about by similar circumstances. It would seem that one of football’s iconic clubs Doncaster Belles are to be expelled from the top tier of women’s football because a club from west of the M1 bearing a light blue shirt has a bit more cash in the kitty. The fact that this is happening in women’s football only serves to show that the creepy fingers of corruption can reach every crevice of our game.
The fact that this is happening in women's football only serves to show that the creepy fingers of corruption can reach every crevice of our game.
The Belles are not just any old football club; they have been at the heart of women’s football since their dominance of the game in the 80s. Over the years, on the pitch, the Belles have developed a rivalry with Woolwich to match our own and nurtured some great talent while practicing a financial prudence that has been all too easily forgotten by many clubs up and down this pleasant land. But it would seem that the very same frugal attitude has meant football’s equivalent of Tamara Ecclestone is able to take the Belles rightful place.
Essentially Man City are taking the Belles’ place because it makes the League more marketable, not more competitive. Money be the football boot of evil.
The Belles’ recent appeal against the FA’s decision to place them in the second division of the new league has sadly been dismissed. From reading the report it seems that the Belles have had their hands tied in dealing with the FA. They have been able to appeal against the decision, but actually as clause 12 in the terms and conditions state it’s ultimately the FA’s decision, and appeals can’t be made against the FA’s discretion.
I’m not having a go at Manchester City or even the FA’s need to make the Women’s Super League financially viable but the decision doesn’t make sense.
Doncaster Rovers Belles are tried and tested, they’ve been playing at the top for 22 years, why push them out? They continue to provide a training ground for many young footballers and are operating within their means – financial fair play in it’s purest form.
Seeing as we have our own history of facing injustice, maybe we can raise the profile of the injustice that the Belles are facing. I’m not suggesting we march from WHL via Doncaster to Wembley in protest but I believe the FA needs to reconsider the grounds upon which it is forming a fresh football league.
Should this new league revolve around football or money? I’m backing football, I’m backing the Belles.
Sign the petition against the relegation of Doncaster Belles here