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Hello, Flora here, welcome and thank you for reading this 31/7! This week I have been thinking about:
  • The 23 lovely ladies set to make my dreams come true
  • Making it official with an angry octopus
  • How a good haircut can't solve everything
  • …among other things!
I am chuffed that you're reading this and would be pleased to hear from you. If you have any comments, Kanye West-esque objections, nominations for Pony of the Season etc you can reply to this message or email me at [email protected].

And if you enjoy reading 31/7, please forward it to your mates and get them to sign up too.

If you're a mate on the receiving end, you can get this every week by clicking here. Cheers!

Sarina's list

Sarina Wiegman has revealed her 23-player squad for the World Cup so you can now officially be buzzing for the summer.

Last year, the boss was absolutely brutal, calling 26 players to train in the pre-Euro camp before culling three of them at the end of it.

This time round, Jess Park, Maya Le Tissier and Emily Ramsey have been invited 'on standby' but told they'll be sent home after the preparations are made. I guess it's nicer to know where you stand.

So here it is lads, the year's most anticipated roll-call:

Earps, Hampton, Roebuck; Bright, Bronze, Carter, Charles, Greenwood, Morgan, Wubben-Moy; Coombs, Nobbs, Stanway, Toone, Walsh, Zelem; Daly, England, Hemp, James, Kelly, Robinson, Russo.

We like:
  • Jordan Nobbs makes the cut after leaving the love of her life, Arsenal, so she could have a shot at involvement. Gamble = paid off.
  • Beth England also switched clubs in the hopes of putting herself back in contention and, 12 goals in 12 games later, her scheme has worked.
  • Ditto, one prolific season back in England was all it took to make 'forward: Rachel Daly' reality.
  • Millie Bright will wear the armband and she'll do it well.
We don't like:
  • It was never meant to be but it hurts that Beth Mead ain't there.
  • Le Tissier could hardly have done more to be included so I hope she is ok as she seems like a total hun in the making.
We are curious about:
  • Whether Hannah Hampton's attitude problems will recur.
  • Which minute in the World Cup final Rachel Daly will score the winning goal.

R.I.P. the season

Blah blah blah Chelsea won again. As well as their 6th WSL title, the Blues get to go straight into the group stage of next season’s Champions League. Coming third, Manchester United will have to battle out two rounds of the pre-qualifying League Path, with second-place Arsenal only having to get through one round.

Manchester City get nowt but a chance to go again next season - it’s the first time they’ve finished outside the top three since 2014. As their Premier League side reach ever more impossible standards, it’s embarrassing that City are in decline.

Meanwhile, Reading are relegated, leaving manager and lifelong Royals fan Kelly Chambers feeling hurt. The woman is giving birth in five weeks time but she’s still talking about bouncing ‘straight back up’, which she says will be a huge challenge given the way that budgets are increasing all over the women’s pyramid.

But only a select handful of losers will remember the fine details of league positions and goal difference and qualifying routes in years to come. They'll remember the drama, the funnies, the failures, the legends. So let's honour some. It's time to don your finest formalwear, grab your Beth Mead, and settle in for the 31/7 End of Season awards.....

Scrap of the Season

And the award goes to… Hawa Cissoko 🏆

Aston Villa are the team to watch right now. At the start of this season, Man Utd were touted as huge contenders to break into the established top three. That came true, and now Villa are on course to be the fifth-placed side who could disrupt what is now a top-four.

Carla Ward’s side started the 2022/2023 season with a bang, beating Manchester City in a seven-goal thriller. By October, Villa were still unbeaten after three games, so hosting a West Ham side who’d lost two on the bounce didn’t pose much of a threat.

But the visitors were 2-0 up inside fifteen minutes. Then, midway through the second half Alisha Lehmann claimed and ballsed up an opportunity to cut Villa’s deficit from the spot, leaving Ward raging on the sidelines because obvs Rachel Daly takes pens.

Ward was blue in the face for all of four minutes before Kenza Dali scored to give Villa fresh hope. There were ten minutes left for the hosts to find an equaliser, maybe even a winner, and the temperature of the Poundland Bescot Stadium was going UP as Villa pushed hard for a goal, and West Ham did all they could to stop them.

For Hammers defender Hawa Cissoko, this meant dispossessing Sarah Mayling just as she was thinking of launching another ball into the box. With most of Villa’s players engaged in attacking the West Ham goal, the French defender was free to tear off down the other end with compatriot Viviane Asseyi in support.
Hawa Cissoko tackles Sarah Mayling
Mayling was not happy about this and committed a professional foul by shamelessly manhandling Cissoko off the ball. What happened next was distinctly unprofessional.

Finding Mayling’s hands remained all over her after the ref had blown, Cissoko shoved her off. Mayling quickly abandoned appeals to the referee, preferring to take matters into her own hands. A shove for a shove, seems fair.

What makes less sense is Mayling going in a second time, after the free kick has been given, after she’s landed that sweet first shove, as Cissoko is walking backwards away from her.

I think she learns her lesson here.
Sarah Mayling comes for Hawa Cissoko and gets a slap
OOF. Or, as they say in Cissoko's motherland... ooh la la.

I think Rachel Corsie really saves Mayling’s blushes by bustling her away. She doesn’t have the look of someone primed to go a third time, with the imprint of Cissoko’s palm on her cheek.

Opinions were split on this. Maybe we don’t slap people. But you can see in Mayling’s body language the moment when she decides to provoke Cissoko, which isn’t cool either.

For Cissoko, it was probably enough of a punishment to feel shame rising as her temper cooled, and that she had to miss five WSL games.
Sadly, some internet trolls disagreed, pouring racist hatred into what was otherwise a fun moment of sporting conflict.

Cissoko reported the abuse to the police, and later told The Athletic: “I prefer to work at McDonald’s and be happy and no one is abusing me than being abused but can’t even defend myself.

“That’s the worst thing. Just because I play football I have to be quiet.”

Hawa, I wish you a long and healthy life of clapping back when the moment calls for it.

Signing of the Season

And the award goes to… Rachel Daly 🏆

It wasn’t long since we did a ‘Rachel Daly is great’ moment so let’s let the figures speak for themselves.
  • 22 games, 22 goals, bags one every 89 minutes and hits 55% of her shots on target.
  • With her six assists, Daly has been involved in more than half of Aston Villa’s scoring output as they achieved a very respectable 5th-placed finish, their best position since joining the league in 2020.
Tweet by Aston Villa Women letting us know that Big Rachel Daly has bagged again
Big striker, big leader, big Rach.

WAG of the Season

And the award goes to… Amber Rose-Gill 🏆

A Villa star to rival Rachel Daly, the icon that women’s football fans never knew they needed, Amber-Rose Gill burst onto the LGBT+ scene last August as she accidentally made reference to ‘switching teams’ in a tweet which dragged the behaviour of last summer’s crop of male Love Island contestants.

She added: “Watching men makes me feel ill, I couldn’t put myself through it again.”

Come December, she’s soft-launching her relationship with Arsenal and Scotland defender Jen Beattie by sharing the punnily-named TikTok octopus the pair won on a date at Winter Wonderland on Instagram.
Instagram story by Amber Rose Gill depicting TikTok octopus adopted by her and gf Jen Beattie from Winter Wonderland
As Amber is spotted at Borehamwood with increasing frequency, she takes glee in leaving a trail of Insta breadcrumbs which range in subtlety from her BFF tagging her in a vintage pic of Cheryl Cole and Vicky B watching from the stands to a picture of her in a jacuzzi with the caption “Happy National take ur girlfriend to the spa day."

So Amber, thank you for drawing paparazzi to your cab window, for spinning that rumour wheel with gay abandon, for silencing the ‘no one cares’ brigade and making women’s football and WAG culture re👏le👏vant👏 again.

It is a cruel shame that Scotland's failure to qualify for this summer’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand denies us the WAGs on tour content we all truly deserve.

Controversy of the Season

And the award goes to… Ella Toone 🏆

Mid-season, Manchester United were desperately trying to keep pace with Chelsea at the top of the table. Spurs were on a six-game streak of defeats (oof) so it looked like a routine show-up-and-win-again for Marc Skinner’s side. But the first half at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium told the same story of frustration that caused them to drop points with a goalless draw with Everton the previous weekend.

Newly-signed Bethany England cancelled the lead which Leah Galton eventually sorted for the visitors, but one minute after struggling Spurs pulled level, Molly Bartrip scored a really sad own goal, or a great finish, depending on which way you look at it.
Molly Bartrip reacts to turning the ball into her own net
With ten minutes left to play, everyone was going AT IT, culminating in a set-to between Ella Toone and Eveliina Summanen which ended with the Euro final heroine seeing red for throwing the Finnish midfielder at the ground.
Ella Toone WWE slams Eveliina Summanen
United manager Marc Skinner gave a typically bizarre response to one of his players slamming an opponent like a bedroom door: ‘I want to see that from her - I want to see passion.’

In more normal footballing behaviour, Toone took to Twitter to clarify that she would, indeed, ‘learn from it’.

If it were not controversial enough for one of the darlings of the Lionesses to LOSE her TEMPER and engage in some MISCONDUCT, the FA stirred the pot.

After years of Premier League footballers tripping on fresh air and rolling around in agony, the FA suddenly said ‘nah, you’re alright Tooneh, the other one was in the wrong,’ cancelling Toone's three-match suspension, and doling out punishment to Summanen instead.

For holding her hands to her face after Toone’s assault, Summanen was considered to have deceived a match official and was banned for two games.


Trim of the Season

And the award goes to… Lina Hurtig 🏆

When the Swedish striker arrived at Borehamwood from Juventus last summer, she wore a triumphant trim worthy of the Champions League and international experience for which Arsenal fans were getting excited.
Tweet by UEFA Champions League depicting a defiant looking Lina Hurting around the time she signed for Arsenal
Sadly, on all the glory that quiff promised, her season failed to deliver.

It was never going to be easy to break into Arsenal’s attacking line-up, furnished with the likes of Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema. Injuries to both were the gift Hurtig needed, but her own fitness issues prevented her from hitting the ground running, and when she has been in a good-enough condition to play, she failed to dazzle.

With their high expectations unfulfilled, the unforgiving Arsenal fanbase have rapidly made Hurtig the butt of many a joke.

Her latest misdemeanour? On Sunday, she was spotted on Caitlin Foord’s Instagram pulling up her hoodie, sitting a few seats away from her teammates as they cheered on the men in their final Premier League game.

At half time, Jonas Eidevall’s players paraded their League Cup on the Emirates pitch, Hurtig’s deflated quiff telling the story of the season she’s had.
Still of Lina Hurting looking a bit meh at Arsenal Women's League trophy parade at the Emirates
Poor babe. Still a fantastic trim but let’s just say I’m no longer showing pictures of her to my barber.

Coming up

  • The Champions League final, kicks off at 3pm Saturday, stream on Dazn or YouTube.
    • Barcelona want to go one better after losing last year’s final 3-1 to Olympique Lyon.
    • VfL Wolfsburg lifted back-to-back Champions League trophies in 2013 and 2014 but have fallen at the final hurdle three times since.
    • Wolfsburg midfielder Jill Roord, who scored the all-important equaliser v Arsenal in the semi-final, took an unconventional approach to the match, using her pre-match interview to talk about how much she would love to play for Barcelona one day.
  • Next week I’ll be walking 92 miles from Goodison Park to Elland Road in memory of Gary Speed, a Leeds United player who died by suicide in 2011. We’re raising money for Andy’s Man Club, so please do donate for a great cause if you can!
  • Less than 50 days until the World Cup kicks off 🤗

Things I dig this week

  • Leah Williamson having a nice time at the footie
  • Georgia Stanway having a nice time in a dirndl
  • Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema having a nice time with Beyoncé
  • Lego x WoSo collab
  • Move over matchday strut, MLS side DC United are holding their second annual Pups at the Pitch fixture, there are NO BREED RESTRICTIONS but for pups that are larger than 100lbs, fans are encouraged to purchase another seat.


  • Alessia Russo’s moment of glory spoiled by man who thinks he is funny.
  • Ajax won’t celebrate their women’s side winning the title because the men did shite.
  • FIFA have announced an exciting partnership with Frito-Lay, purveyors of Cheetos and Doritos, meaning that with six weeks to go, the World Cup now has an official snack but we still don’t know who is broadcasting it.
Thanks for reading! Don't forget you can get in touch with me anytime at [email protected]

— and if you enjoy these emails, it's a great help if you forward them to everyone you know so they can read them too. Cheers!

New from The Square Ball

A photo of Simon Rix from Kaiser Chiefs outside Laynes Espresso in Leeds wearing our TSB x Admiral collab football shirt, which is yellow with a blue and white v-neck collar, white and blue chest flashes, and has the TSB and Admiral logos on the chest
The Square Ball is not, technically, a football club. But if we were, we’d design really nice football shirts for everyone to wear. And with help from Admiral, that’s exactly what we’ve done.

Following the release of TSB's home and away shirts last year, we're completing this season's set with our third, a proper yellow shirt ready for the sunny side of summer.
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