The Warm-Up: The WSL's watershed moment
Plus, Harry Kane scores penalties the fraud, Somalia won a World Cup qualifier and Lionel Messi was good when he was a kid.
MONDAY’S BIG STORIES
A well overdue watershed moment for the WSL
The Women's Super League returned this weekend, with the powers that be, yes you the FA, and yes you, affiliated clubs, providing the league with the support and, crucially, the requisite infrastructure for the league to develop.
The Manchester Derby at the Etihad drew a crowd of 30,000 while Chelsea against Tottenham at Stamford Bridge was a sell-out at 24,000; both United and Tottenham were promoted to the WSL last season, so closely fought 1-0 home wins point to a highly competitive league this season. They were high profile matches, staged at high profile grounds and staged deliberately as opening day fixtures on an international weekend to make the matches more accessible. Chelsea made the tickets available free but it was the paid for game in Manchester that attracted more fans. The WSL is in good health.
Furthermore, matches at less high profile grounds, against less high profile opponents drew impressive crowds also. Take for example Bristol City - a well established and modestly successful club but, well, Bristol isn't the first neck of the woods that springs to mind when the term 'football hotbed' is thrown about. Yet, their home fixture against Brighton drew over 3,000. That, to the Warm-Up, is as, if not more, impressive than the aforementioned attendances.
The turnouts were impressive, and sustaining that momentum is incumbent on those that run football within the England. The interest is evidently there, the talent is unquestionably there - even if players like Nikita Parris and Lucy Bronze are playing for the world's best team Lyon in France - and the storylines are there.
As this weekend has shown, the template is there, give the women's game the promotion - and for want of a better word - respect it deserves and it will flourish.
The omens look good.
Arsenal, who have played competitive fixtures at the Emirates previously and were part of a double-header there during the Emirates Cup, travel to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in November - a North London Derby between a newly-promoted Tottenham and the reigning WSL champions at the country's premium stadium: yes please. Throw into the mix the Lionesses taking on Germany in the same month and said momentum should be sustained.
Hopefully, this season will, with the requisite support (decent start, everyone), represent a watershed moment for the league.
Their excellence is not just confined to the WSL of course so enjoy.
HARRY KANE IS A GOALSCORER
Another hat-trick for the five-season fraud/wonder. To the naysayers gibbering on about penalties, have a word. The guy has to score them and score them he did. And actually, penalties speak to the player Kane is and why he is so exceptional.
Hard work. Kane's penalty taking - and there is an art to it - has improved dramatically since he came on the scene, as has every other aspect of his game. Kane's pursuit of improvement remains relentless, and that is a trait that marks all the greats.
The 26-year-old should, all things being equal, become England's all-time leading scorer. He is certainly on track to do so. The guy who could not get a game at Leicester City when they were in the Championship or who struggled at Millwall is on course to score more goals than Bobby Charlton, Wayne Rooney and Gary Lineker. Not bad going for a fraud.
SOMALIA WIN FIRST EVER WORLD CUP QUALIFIER
Somalia have won their first-ever World Cup qualifier - it came in Djibouti against Zimbabwe.
Anwar Sid Ali Shakunda's 87th minute header was enough to secure the Ocean Stars, ranked 202 in the world, a win over the AFCON finalists.
The second leg of their CAF first round qualifier takes place on Tuesday at 14:00.
IN THE CHANNELS
To the surprise of no one, a young Lionel Messi was fairly handy with a ball at his feet.
IN THE CHANNELS II
If you can't be good, be lucky.
Anyway, Jonathan Wilson has given their overlapping centre-halves the Jonathan Wilson treatment in the Guardian.
On the subject of Wayne Rooney, it is mad that Kane *could* beat his England record for goals because Wayne Rooney was scandalously good at association football.
Scotland take on Belgium in a literal must-win Euro qualifier, while there is cycling all over the channel. Also, there is snooker action from the Shanghai Masters.
Vuelta, Tour of Britain and Tour of China. Fill those boots.
Nick Miller is on Warm-Up duty tomorrow. He is both good and lucky.