Steve Clamp: A remarkable week for women in Midlands sport

Credit: PA Images/ @LCFCWomen

What an incredible season for Leicester City Women. Promoted on Sunday to the top flight, having only turned full time professional in 2020. They've done it as champions after a stunning run of 12 straight victories. 

I was lucky enough to film with the team late last summer. It seems a lifetime ago -  when we could actually be at an elite football training ground in person, interacting face to face with players and staff (albeit even then from a two metre distance). On that day former England star Emile Heskey had joined the Women's setup as an ambassador. He was enthusiastic about his role. And the team were delighted that such a well respected former star of the Leicester (and Liverpool) men's team would help spread the word of their own lofty ambitions. 

LCFC Women celebrating their promotion to the Women's Super League. Credit: Twitter/@LCFCWomen

To think that just over six months later they have been promoted in such outstanding fashion is quite astonishing.

I only wish I could revisit the training ground now to tell them face to face just how wonderful it has been to watch their rapid progress. But hey, Covid has other ideas. I guess my congratulations will be over Zoom for the time being. 

Rebecca Welch during the Women's FA Cup Final at Wembley Credit: PA Images

Leicester's triumph marks the start of quite a week for the Midlands when it comes to women in sport.

Yesterday, Rebecca Welch made history as the first woman appointed to referee a game in the English football league. Port Vale were under her watchful gaze for their trip to Harrogate. I'm not sure why it's taken this long to happen. I mean, it's not as if most fans are particularly keen on the job male referees have been doing for the last 100 years or so.

So why should a female be any worse (or better)?  The sad fact is she will take flack once fans are back in the grounds. But I just hope it's the same flack the men get and nothing more sinister. But I am confident that most fans just want a referee to get it right, anything else is pretty much irrelevant. 

Jockey Tabitha Worsley celebrates with her horse Top Wood at the Randox Health Grand National Festival in 2019. Credit: PA Images

And there could be another first for women's sport in the days ahead. This Saturday, Tabitha Worsley, who is from Worcestershire, is hoping to become the first ever female jockey to win the Grand National.

It wouldn't just be headline news because she's a woman, but also because she would be winning the most famous horse race in the world having broken her back in a fall at Ludlow in 2017. She's been back in the saddle and riding winners since 2019, but this would be something else. I should point out, she'll have a lot to do if she is to make history. She's set to ride Sub Lieutenant, a 12 year old gelding from her mother Georgie Howell's Worcestershire stables. And with odds of 100-1 from most bookies it would take the ride of her life to win. 

But in a week like this, where women's sport is once again shining, surely you can't write her off, no matter how long the odds.

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