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Football's real wives; Emma Johnson recalls famous soccer spouses.

IT'S glitzy, glamorous and full of gorgeous girls and boys - and love it or hate it, Footballers' Wives is back on our screens on Wednesday . With palatial homes, pools and sports cars the wives of the Earls Park wonders live in luxury, their lives a whirlwind of manicures, makeovers and magazine covers. But is life really so wonderful for the women left cheering from the director's box? To celebrate the return of TV's trashiest drama we take a look back at some of the most famous of Merseyside's very own footballers' wives.

1 They were undoubtedly one of the best-known and loved couples of the football world - legendary Liverpool manager Bill Shankly and his wife Nessie, both sadly now deceased. They are pictured when Bill was presented with a silver platter in honour of his achievements at the club.

2 Any occasion is a photo opportunity for a professional footballer and his beautiful wife. When Everton captain and centre-half Brian Labone was due to have stitches out following an injury, not only did glamorous wife Patricia and four-month-old daughter Rachelle attend, but so did the press.Life is a whirl of public engagements for the footballer's wife, or so we like to think. Nowadays the country's finest and their better halves may get invites to Downing Street, but back in 1964 dinner at Liverpool Town Hall was not some-thing to be sniffed at for the boys in red . . . and blue!

Pictured left to right: Willie Stevenson(LFC), Mrs Stevenson, Mrs Jimmy Gabriel, Mrs Ramon Wilson and Mrs Bobbie Thomson .

4 Rule number one in the footballers' wives handbook: ``Always look your best for football functions.''

And these lovely ladies show that long before the arrival of Victoria Beckham, football wives were already dedicated followers of fashion.

Check out the styles and hairstyles the Liverpool FC wives opted for at the banquet to celebrate their husbands winning the League Championship in 1964. Left to right: St. John, Pat Hunt, Joyce Moran, Alma Acourt, Edith Milne, Margaret Yeats and Carmel Stevenson.

When Romeo Beckham was born the world's press camped outside the hospital desperate to catch a glimpse of the new arrival. But interest in footballer's family additions is nothing new, as this picture proves. Taken back in 1988, it shows then manager of Liverpool FC Kenny Dalglish with his wife Marina and Lyndsay and Paul , two of their other three children, as they present new baby Lauren to the world.

These days footballers' weddings keep the glossy gossip magazines in print.

But interest in the nuptials of our sporting heroes has always been high as these photos show, taken back in the days when exclusive magazine deals were unheard of. Liverpool skipper Phil Thompson marries sweet-heart Margaret Ireland at St Joseph's, Kirkby in June, 1981. And Everton captain Howard Kendall weds bride Cynthia Halliwell at Fulwood Methodist Church in May, 1970.

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GLITZ AND GLAMOUR: Footballers' Wives returns to; our TV screens next week
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 4, 2003
Words:494
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