Making *things* irrelevant. (Nice one, Fran).

The Women’s World Cup is drawing a lot of flak – funny that. Depressingly it’s not just the dumb middle-aged blokes who know nothing about football but also their youngish, similarly lazy equivalents. (On my twitter, young sporty lads giving it the sloppy, arrogant thumbs-down).

Some are more appreciative of the really accomplished passing football being played by most teams – best exemplified, arguably, by Netherlands, Germany, USA, England, France but also executed by many of the lower-profile nations.

Personally I’ve enjoyed the level of comfort in possession many of the players are displaying: the building from the back, the lack of longball-as-first-resort. Tempted to say this is waaay better than many England Men’s sides have managed until the ‘culture-changes’ of the last few years but that would of course be a calamitous o.g. – we need to keep the men out of this.

Women’s sport is different and there is no value in comparing, either explicitly or ‘subconsciously’, though that is challenging, in all honesty, for a middle-aged dumbo like myself. Plenty decades have loaded up the assumptions and prejudices in my own personal ether but  I am trying to pick a way, judge a way through that, without entirely denying myself the right to criticise: the thinking being that genuinely fair comment (should I ever achieve that) actually respects the validity/quality of the sport and makes issues of gender/sex/sexual politics irrelevant.

Flick the switch and relax. Put the telly on. Ooh, bo-nusss! England Women v Windies Cricket is on Sky Sports Mix, which is available free, to the Walton household. And I have time to watch some of it. And OMG… FRAN WILSON!

A diversion, kindof.

Last week I blagged my way in to the car park at Worcester County Cricket Club (I do have accreditation but didn’t *actually have* parking sorted) and swung stylishly and maybe a tad smugly to a halt next to a biggish 4 x 4, from which England players were decanting themselves. One of them was Fran Wilson. I don’t know any the players personally, despite having watched them a fair bit live over the last couple of years, but particularly it felt like I don’t know Fran Wilson… because she’s hardly played. I was tempted to wish her all the best but from a strange fella in a car park… how?

For me this adds a further dimension to the moment (captured above, though surely you’ve seen it, yes?) that you may and probably should revisit whenever anyone says anything.

Says anything about women’s sport. Or maybe about women? Or maybe about racism or homophobia, or maybe when somebody is cruel or stoopid or in any sense prejudiced. Either point them to it or revisit yourself, to bolster your faith in stuff. Because the world gets better at moments like this.

Fran – the same Fran that jumped out of that car, that I nearly said hello and good luck to – did something very special for us, by being very natural (for her).

She dived. She instinctively, stunningly, magnificently dived. Crucially, she caught a missile. She made a beautiful, undeniable, joyful thing-of-a-movement. She was perfectly, athletically human and the only judgement anyone can ever make about it is that was a staggering catch. No qualifications.

We can swat away the comparisons with Ben Stokes. We can swat away everything. This is simple (if statements of this quality and magnitude can be simple?) and wonderful.  She literally reached, stretched, re-invented or maybe denied the limits. Fran absolutely excited us and there’s something magic and electrifyingly pure about that feeling.

Is it okay to say I/we loved it? I think so, I hope so. I really hope we can de-clutter this, to celebrate it. It may be unwise, it may be wrong for this oldish geezer to gush like this so clumsily. But for how it looked, for how it lit up an instant and for what it says, I loved it.

6 thoughts on “Making *things* irrelevant. (Nice one, Fran).

  1. Brilliant brilliant article. I have met her and she is lovely and very un assuming. Just like the rest of the incredibly talented English women’s team who are just sports people trying to make their way doing something they love.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Have no doubt she’s fabulous – as I said I swerved the opportunity to say hello, in Worcester. Matters not. What matters is a) she made that bloo-dee catch – WOW!! b) the *statement* that made.

      Thank you so much for taking the trouble to comment.


  2. Great read. If men want to widen their sporting life then half the world is there. If they don’t I don’t care. It is their loss. Glad you are not in that category. See you at the women’s ashes.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very much enjoyed reading that, Rick.

    We met Fran at the World Cup game v Sri Lanka at Taunton a couple of years ago. We were there with a group of Worcs age group players. She fielded near us and the girls decided she was “their” player even before she took an(other) outstanding catch. We hung around at the end for a pic and autographs and she seemed stunned and a bit embarrassed that she was a hero to the girls. And this is an international player, playing in a World Cup, on home soil. Lovely, genuine person, and typical of this England squad, in my experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All figures. I’ve been ‘around’ for most of the games I can get to (Taunton, Bristol, Worcester, Cardiff) and really like the vibe around this England group. Bit iffy to go diving into the sexual politics thing – when I know I’m going to be guilty of some of the sins around language & subconscious prejudice – but Fran’s catch was so-o exciting & remarkable I wanted to recognise it as some statement… or other!


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