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Women's Football News
How many teams can boast that they have a fan who heads out to the ground for most weeks games earlier than the team he supports?
Well, Cardiff City Ladies have such a devoted fan in Steve Kloppe who supports the Welsh girls although he lives in Croydon. He rarely misses an away fixture even supporting the Cardiff City Ladies reserve side when they were playing in the Southern Division.
Steve has been following the girls since 1996 and has just watched his one hundred and first game, and took time out to be interviewed about his passionate following of his beloved Cardiff City Ladies:
What is your connection with Cardiff and living in London all your life why do you support Cardiff City and especially the Ladies Team?
I was born in Cardiff (St David's Hospital August 1958)of foreign parents. So I have no English in me at all! Lived in Cardiff until mum's job (teacher) took her to Kent in 1962, then South London 1970, where I've been ever since. When I was sent to an all-male boarding school in 1969 you had to have a 'team', so being Cardiff born Cardiff City became my team. I saw my first live game in September 1973 away to Crystal Palace, and now I am in my 42nd season as a City fan. 450 men's games, 101 ladies games, a dozen Wales games and counting. Living away from Cardiff makes you kind of more nostalgic or 'Welsh' than if I lived back there. If I was a 5 minute walk from the Cardiff City stadium I probably wouldn't give it a thought - but being 155 miles away makes going to games (home and away) a bit special. so you look forward to games, plan the travel, tickets, accommodation, etc. (Though after some games you do wonder, now why have I bothered).
When I can't get to a City game I follow local non-league football. There are two teams - AFC Croydon Athletic and Croydon FC. During a Croydon home game Dave, who ran the program shop said "wanna come along tomorrow and see the girls?", so the next day I was back at the Arena watching Croydon Women v Millwall Lionesses. That was October 1995. In January 1996 my 6th Croydon WFC game turned out to be my last as they were playing Inter Cardiff. Cardiff had a ladies team! Well, that was it!! I now had a ladies team to follow!
How long have you been supporting the ladies, and who was your first game against? What were your initial thoughts of the game?
First game was January 1996, Croydon v Inter Cardiff. Then Wembley Mill Hill Away - lost 11-0 (and I thought it had to get better than this!) Two weeks later Three Bridges away (right next to a bakery - wonderful smell and baking bread all through the game). Won 2-1 (Oh good it does get better!).
How has the team and women's football changed over the years?
The standard of football has certainly improved. Sadly, what hasn't seemed to change is the lack of interest in the women's game in general. It still seems to be a very well kept secret! Obviously the WSL is a rebranding exercise to try and get more people interested. We'll see. Some clubs still don't seem to care enough to even produce a programme! Photocopying an A4 piece of paper - how hard can that be?
I understand that you have just seen your 101st game of watching the ladies, what are your most memorable moments of watching the girls?
101 games against 30 different sides at over 60 different grounds, 5 sports centres, public parks, crumbling half built non-league grounds, school pitches. balls going into gardens, tennis courts into the road and hitting a passing car! Heavy defeats - usually to Arsenal! Coach drivers without maps getting lost. An actual fist fight away at Southampton. (You are ladies - you don't do that sort of thing, oh no - it seems that you do!)
What's your most memorable goal?
A 5-0 defeat t Chelsea. Fara Williams made four of the goals and scored the 5th herself from about 30 yards. For us - Tash Harding at Charlton (2-1 win), Sophie Ingle at Gillingham (3-0 win). They are always better when you win!
Some weeks you set off to watch the girls earlier than the team leaves Cardiff, being a 'statto' have you every counted up the miles you have covered?
Being an ex-lorry driver I can probably work that out for you. Give me half an hour. So 30 minutes and one pot noodle later. I made it about 3,400 miles. The reason for leaving early is that you play on Sundays. Since giving up the car in 2004 I rely on public transport and the rail companies use Sundays to close half the network for engineering work- so I will allow extra time for unexpected delays. I'd rather arrive too early than too late.
You have seen 101 games, but only one at home?
Yeah, weird, huh? can't really explain why. Jan 2003 - City at Ninian Park in the cup on Saturday. The ladies home to Wolves in the cup on Sunday (lost on penalties). Stayed at City centre hotel (Daily Mail offer - 3 nights £100). I'd love to do this more (home games coincide all the time), but money is a problem. Still, when I win the lottery…!
Who's your favourite player and why?
Well Ellie Smith gave me a lift home from Worthing in her car one time- so I like her! I suppose (cliché alert) my favourite player is whoever scored our most recent goal (so Shannelle) - until she is replaced by whoever scores our next (unless its Shannelle again of course!)
What do you think of the ladies chances are of winning the league are this year?
Pretty good. The reason we ran out of steam last year is because the season went on too long (postponements due to internationals). If we can avoid a fixture build-up then we have a good chance. Though four recent postponements don't help!
What do you enjoy about the ladies team?
Like any football, I like seeing my team winning and playing well. (It's been 18 years - it's okay to call you 'my team'). Oh yeah - and the after match nosh is sometimes pretty good as well!
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