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Gunners win milestone derby clash

Almost 40,000 fans see Arsenal take on Spurs as visitors’ second-half goals seal 2-0 victory

22 November, 2019 — By Catherine Etoe

Spurs midfielder Rianna Dean drives past Gunners pair Katie McCabe and Jennifer Beattie. PHOTOS: TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR FC

THEY were still called “ladies” and they played in the Greater London Regional League when this newspaper first included Spurs women’s matches in its football coverage.

That was back in the days when George Graham sashayed around the White Hart Lane touchline in his camel coat and our sports pages were bafflingly sandwiched between John Gulliver and Letters, and not at the back of the paper like they are now.

Similarly, there were no professionals in Arsenal’s ranks when we wrote about Vic Akers’ National Premier League side in those days.

Now here we are, two decades on, writing about these same clubs – but this time after watching their professional players perform to the highest level at a truly breathtaking stadium on yet another landmark day for the sport.

More than 70,000 supporters turned out on Sunday as six Women’s Super League matches were played out across the country. And while they flocked to the Amex and Anfield, Kingsmeadow, the Madejski and Manchester, it was the north London derby at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium that rocked the lot.

Smashing a Women’s Super League attendance record that was only set in September when 31,213 watched Manchester City host Manchester United at the Etihad, an unprecedented 38,262 fans filled Tottenham’s cavernous new home with their flapping flags and infectious enthusiasm.

Kim Little opens the scoring for Arsenal at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

After witnessing a crowd of more than 70,000 cheer Team GB’s women on to a shock victory over Brazil in 2012, I honestly thought the women’s game held no more teary moments for me. I was wrong.

Having written about these two teams at a time when very few publications cared, this was a truly special and emotional day.

With head coach Karen Hills exclaiming her side were still on a high two days later, the party atmosphere was seemingly only dampened as far as the hosts were concerned by the score.

Having spurned some nailed-on chances, Spurs fell to two second-half goals as Arsenal skipper Kim Little and Dutch striker Viv Miedema turned on the class and a sold-out away end of more than 3,000 cranked up the volume.

Tottenham weren’t the only ones to raise the stakes on Sunday either.

Camden’s own Emma Hayes witnessed another important milestone, too, as a sell-out 4,790 watched her Chelsea side beat Manchester United 1-0 at Kingsmeadow Stadium to set a new attendance record for a WSL match not played at a Premier League stadium.

One day soon we will stop obsessing about the attendances and start focusing on the football, but it was hard to deny that the fans were the talking point in the women’s game again this week and for anyone with a connection to the sport, this really was massive.

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