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Morgan & Bale: what a double!

OPINION: Spurs have snapped up a genuine global superstar... and Gareth Bale – but big leaps forward are still needed in women’s football

01 October, 2020 — By Richard Osley

Alex Morgan. Photo: Tottenham Hotspur FC

AGES ago, probably when you were still at school and certainly long before you knew who Alex Scott was, this newspaper was one of the first to take women’s football seriously. In fact, we had more coverage of women’s football than men’s, because we figured you probably already knew the Premier League scores. You didn’t need another publication telling you that Arsene Wenger hoped that his team would win whatever the next match was.

And we almost certainly had the first female sports editor on a local paper in London, although Catherine Etoe was always too bashful to take a compliment and would have, I’m sure, hated it if the paper tried to claim some sort of progressive credit for such an appointment.

Newsrooms everywhere are still overpopulated by men burping on about men’s football. Still, it was still pretty cool to see our old colleague bowled over by the arrival of superstar Alex Morgan at Spurs.

“You know, when I was writing about Tottenham ‘Ladies’ for the New Journal 21 years ago, I’m not sure I ever envisaged a day when we’d see a signing like this or even a league like this,” she tweeted.

Too right. It was easy to get on board with the Arsenal women’s team back then because they won everything, but Tottenham were a little slower to get going.

In Morgan, they have signed a global figure, a genuine big name, which is why all of their men’s team’s fans suddenly appeared from nowhere. Suddenly, they too were tweeting about women’s football and what a coup their team had pulled off. Gareth Bale and Alex Morgan, what a double.

Trouble is, this frenzied social activity seemed to have rubbed off by Saturday evening, certainly among some of the come-latelys. On primetime BBC, free-to-air, they had the chance to watch a north London derby, THEIR team, but seemed more interested in watching Chelsea labouring away against West Brom on Sky.

That’s one of the final big leaps we need. We’ve got Arsenal smashing Spurs 4-0 on a TV station everybody can tune into, but how can we make sure Arsenal and Spurs fans are watching it live? Because if you love Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, wait till you see Vivianne Miedema. And Tottenham fans, you don’t have to have been reporting on the women’s game since 1999 to know you are going to love Alex Morgan.

So let’s have more of it on TV, let’s play home games on the same day as the men’s team and, fans, get behind your team and make it part of the silly one-upmanship that has always helped us love the sport.

Starting now: Spurs, oh Spurs, your team got battered on Saturday night. North London is red!

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