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Tony Incenzo's Groundhopper Series | Southend United Ladies

Tony Incenzo's Groundhopper series continues as he heads to Essex to take in a Women's FA Cup game between Southend United Ladies and Frontier Ladies.

What’s the low-down with Southend Ladies FC?

I am really pleased to follow the huge growth of publicity and marketing for women’s football in recent years. It reminds me of the advancement of Rugby Union from an amateur set-up a professional game in the late 90’s which was driven by the media, bringing extensive sponsorship and advertising. I believe that women footballers will be paid the same as men in maybe 20 years or so. That will give girls like my daughter the chance to become a professional footballer which will be a lovely career. With all this in mind, I set off on a 130 mile round trip to Southend-on-Sea for this match in the Vitality Women’s FA Cup. Now that the Final is played at Wembley Stadium, all the participating teams have a great incentive to launch a cup run.

Where was it played?

Located a couple of miles from the seafront and the longest pier in the world, Garon Park is a multi-sport complex. There is a swimming pool, café, children’s playground, cricket club, public golf course and driving range in situ. In addition, a grass football pitch plus the 3G artificial pitch which was staging this Women’s FA Cup tie. Spectators were allowed to watch from a compact viewing area on one side of the cage. The 3G was opened in December 2019 and is also used by Old Southendian FC in the Essex Olympian League as well as staging some fixtures for Southend United’s youth and community teams during times of bad weather.

What’s in the programme?

Southend United supporter Peter Miles kindly volunteered to produce a four page “print at home” programme and copies were distributed by email before the game. He had requests for the programme from avid collectors all around the country. Even a technophobe like me found it easy to print out the programme.

And the match itself?

Southend United dominated for long spells but Frontiers Ladies (from Harlow) actually created two or three clear cut chances and were unlucky not to score. However, two goals by Emily Pert (25, 89 minutes) and another from Faye Lawrence (78 minutes) sealed victory for the home side. As always with women’s football, the game was played in a good spirit with very few fouls. A word of praise too for match official Gary Telling who received a very late call to run the line. Gary carried out his duties with a smile on his face and explained all his decisions very politely to the players.

Facts and figures

  • Score: Southend United Ladies 3 Frontiers Ladies 0
  • Where: Garon Park 3G pitch, Eastern Avenue, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS2 4FA
  • Competition: The Vitality Women’s FA Cup – Third Round Qualifying
  • Attendance: 54 (headcount)

You can read Tony's last column here, and  follow him on Twitter at @TonyIncenzo

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