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Kings of Anglia Issue 10 Magazine Offer

Bacon's Bites: Hoping the WSL doesn't forget the grassroots! And who remembers Warne's 'Gatting ball'?

Chelsea's Fran Kirby and Chelsea's Bethany England look to attack the ball from free kick during the Women's Super League match at the Automated Technology Group Stadium, Solihull Photo PA

Chelsea's Fran Kirby and Chelsea's Bethany England look to attack the ball from free kick during the Women's Super League match at the Automated Technology Group Stadium, Solihull Photo PA

PA Wire/PA Images

In his weekly column, MIKE BACON takes a look at the new multi-million pound deal for the Women's Super League. And remembers the Shane Warne 'Gatting ball'.

Manchester City's Jill Scott in action during the FA Women's League Cup final at Bramall Lane, Sheffield. Photo: PAManchester City's Jill Scott in action during the FA Women's League Cup final at Bramall Lane, Sheffield. Photo: PA

The news that Barclays are sponsoring the Women’s Super League in a ‘multi-pound’ deal is of course great news for the women’s game.

Certainly the ladies game in this country is moving apace.

The success of the England Lionesses has had a major part to play and more and more teams are springing up all over the country. The sport at grassroots is very strong here in Suffolk and Essex, especially.

The World Cup in France this summer is sure to attract much attention.

It’s not for me to pour cold water on such a mega-bucks deal for the WSL, understood to be in excess of £10m over three years. It starts next season.

However, I hope the women’s game doesn’t go the same way as the Premiership, where more and more money has comes into the game yet, the perception among the grassroots anyhow, is that not enough is seeping down into the lower echelons of the game.

Perceptions that quite frankly are fully justified if you saw the state of many Sunday morning pitches and changing rooms up and down the country – just to name a couple of examples.

There is little doubt players’ pay packets are set to get fatter in the WSL and there is nothing wrong with that.

Attracting better players will be a great thing... I just hope the sport does not forget who supported it when it wasn’t so rich!

However, I’m hearing that the intentions appear to be right.

England’s top league will be rebranded the Barclays FA Women’s Super League from next term, and will include a prize-money pot of £500,000.

Previously, WSL winners have not been awarded any official prize money.

England Women manager Phil Neville during the press conference at St Mary's Stadium, Southampton. The Lionesses have certainly put the sport on the map in England Photo: PAEngland Women manager Phil Neville during the press conference at St Mary's Stadium, Southampton. The Lionesses have certainly put the sport on the map in England Photo: PA

The sponsorship deal will also see Barclays become the lead partner of the FA Girls’ Football School Partnerships, a nationwide scheme to help develop girls’ access to football at school.

“We’ll create 100 girls’ football schools partnerships across the country, involving around 6,000 schools, making sure girls have opportunities to play right from a young age,” the FA’s director of the women’s professional game, Kelly Simmons, said.

Making the WSL the biggest league in the world is now within touching distance.

Just make sure you take the grassroots along with you.

It’s that strange time of year where winter and summer sports collide.

I get in right pickle to be honest.

The football campaign is coming to an end, but we are at the business end of the season for many clubs and teams, with much still to play for.

Football and rugby pitches are hardening up again after months of damp and then this week I’m off attending the Ipswich Witches press day as they gear up for their summer of fast-paced speedway action – the new stock car season is already up and running.

It will be county cricket press days soon and of course The Masters is just around the corner.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Happy that summer is on it’s way but sad that all the fun of the footie season (well, as much fun as you can have as an Ipswich Town fan), is coming to an end for a few months.

The 2019 Ipswich Witches.    PICTURE STEVE WALLER    www.stephenwaller.comThe 2019 Ipswich Witches. PICTURE STEVE WALLER www.stephenwaller.com

I’ll see you at Foxhall Stadium, Portman Road or a non-league ground in the coming few weeks then!

I’ve just got round to reading Shane Warne’s autobiography, ‘No Spin’.

I enjoy sports autobiographies and I know many fans of sport do as well.

Warne’s book is proving a more than decent read, straight and honest as you would expect.

He ducks few issues, including his 12-month ban back in 2003 for testing positive for then banned diuretic drugs.

And he mentions that ‘Gatting ball’, he bowled, ‘the ball of the century’. His opening delivery during the first Test of the 1993 Ashes series in England, no more than 50 times! - Only kidding, 150!, but hey, why not?

What a ball that was. Pitching outside leg and swooping round Gatting’s pads, the poor England batsman left standing starring at his stumps the ball had just hit.

It was a sporting moment in time. And as Warne admits, ‘the ball that changed my life’.

A ‘ripper’!!

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