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Come on you reds; Playing the field... the real-life drama behind TV's new female football series.

They swear like troopers, tackle like tanks and toast their triumphs swigging lager in the communal bath.

They're the girls of the Castlefield Blues - the team that aims to top the telly ratings league in Playing the Field.

But are small-screen characters Theresa, Rita and the rest anything like our REAL women footballers?

Let's face it, folks, they just can't cap Scots soccer lassies - for GLAMOUR!

If you thought the gorgeous gals in our main picture were TV stars, you've got your fixtures in a twist.

Michelle Barr, 19, and 17-year-olds Ifeoma Dieke and Denise Brolly are cuties with a genuine kick.

They all play for Cumbernauld Ladies - the Rangers or Celtic of the women's game, currently battling to clinch a league championship hat-trick.

Are these Reds at all like the Blues?

Well, they admit they DO swear a bit but they're usually too busy belting down the pitch. As for lager, the team that boasts a bevy of national players prefers to celebrate with champagne!

There's one major quality they certainly share with their TV counterparts, though. That's dedication.

The talented lassies from Gregory's Girl territory live, breathe, eat, sleep and dream football.

Captain Pauline Hammill, 26, is so soccer crazy that she gave up her factory job and ended up unemployed just so she could have a week off to play for Scotland.

As for boyfriends, she hasn't even got the half time...

"I go to the gym on Mondays, train on Tuesdays and Thursdays, coach on Wednesdays and Saturdays and play on Sundays," says the player from Airdrie. "I could have a Friday night boyfriend. But how many people could cope with that?"

If you think that's determination, wait till you hear how team secretary Shelley Valle got into the game...

Like Dorothy in Gregory's Girl - which was filmed in Cumbernauld - Shelley was barred from her school team because of her sex. So she pretended to be a BOY and joined the SCOUTS! "I was about nine and called myself Jimmy," laughs the 32-year-old Inland Revenue worker.

"After seven weeks, they found out I was a girl and I was sent home.

"Then the Boys' Brigade master came to my door and asked me to play for them, even though he knew I was a girl!"

Nowadays, Pauline, Shelley and their team-mates are a force to be reckoned with. And they're CLOSER pals off the pitch than the telly babes from the Blues.

They say they're far too friendly to do the Castlefield dirty on any other player by seducing her man.

And they give their brides an even BETTER send-off than the beauts on the box.

While the Castlefield Blues donned bridesmaids' dresses in the team colours to escort squad member Theresa up the aisle, the Scots girls pulled a surprise coup for player Shirley McNaught and gave her a guard of honour in team strip.

Another of the Reds, Margaret McDonald, proved she was more tolerant than Castle- field's Rita - who is furious that hubby John wants to be team boss.

Margaret, 32, married Cumbernauld's ex-coach Billy - even though he'd dumped her from the squad!

Ex-Clydebank boss Bill Munro, who now helps coach Cumbernauld Ladies on Thursday nights, has become sold on women's football.

"I wasn't always into it," he admits. "But, when I became an SFA community coach, this was part of my remit.

"It certainly opened my eyes. I didn't think the standard of football and technique and skill would be so high.

"I get a lot out of coaching Cumbernauld because I get a very good response from them and they take it seriously."

Some members of the squad, who are in action at Kilsyth today in a crunch league match against Aberdeen Ladies, have already distinguished themselves outside Scotland.

PE teacher Ally Allen, once a semi-professional in Italy, is a role model for teenagers Ifeoma, Denise and Michelle.

Michelle has already had offers to play in Miami and Hawaii and says: "Football's the most important thing in my life just now."

As for TV's Castlefield Blues, none of the girls at Cumbernauld can wait for the next episode... they want to see a real MATCH!
COPYRIGHT 1998 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Barr, Noreen
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 15, 1998
Words:694
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