The Manageress – tape 759

Here’s the first episode of Stan Hey’s drama about a woman running a football club, The Manageress. Cherie Lunghi got her lifelong love of football from her now estranged Italian father, and when her mother dies, there’s a slight glimmer of a reconciliation with him.

Cheri Lunghi

He’s writing a report for UEFA about Britain’s re-entry into European competition – they’d been banned after some terrible hooliganism events, so when she invites him to see her local team, he arranges to be in the boardroom with her – to the horror of some of the old men on the board. “Powerful or not he should know the form. Women go in the blue room, not here.”

The chairman and his right hand man manage to patronise Lunghi on first meeting. “Is this your first football match, Miss Benson?”

Warren Clarke plays the club chairman, dealing with falling attendance, and an unpopular manager. So when he plays host to Lunghi and her father after the match, and she tells him exactly where the club is going wrong (as any football fan would do in that situation) Clarke (after, it seems, some prodding from her father) offers Lunghi the job as manager of the club. She’s cautious, sensing something unspoken behind the offer, but she takes the job.

Tom Georgeson plays Eddie, the team coach, who’s also after the manager’s job, and with whom Lunghi will have to work. He’s not pleased at all when her appointment is announced, and neither are the players. Here’s a young Stephen Tompkinson hearing the news.

Stephen Thompkinson in The Manageress

Team captain Mark McGann is so cross when she’d formally introduced to her (after he’d tried to chat her up when she visited their training incognito) that he declares he’s going to have a shower, and strips off in front of her, clearly believing that the mere sight of his naked body would make her flee. Which seems a strange outcome for a footballer to desire.

In the second episode, she starts work with the team. Her husband is a bit snippy at first at all the press attention. And the players are convinced she won’t last two weeks. They start a pool bet to see which one of them can sleep with her first, s it seems like, on the surface, they’re taking to her.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, her father is clearly doing deals, as a new sponsor for the club just happens to be a company doing business with him.

So she talks to one of the shareholders, one of the old guard who doesn’t think a woman can run a football club, and buys up his shares, putting her on the board.

The last episode on this tape is The Management Reserves The Right. The board is briefed on the financial situation of the club, following the dismissal of previous manager Fred Taylor, by Comedy Store veteran Neil Mullarkey. “We urge the swiftest possible return to accounting legitimacy” he tells the board. Chairman Clarke replies “Is there any way around that?”

Neil Mullarkey

It seems that the deputy chairman, who was also the club’s accountant, had been cooking the books, and the new firm of accountants appointed by Lunghi’s father are finding all sorts of dodgy deals.

Meanwhile, Stephen Thompkinson is suffering from headaches, possibly from stress, as his wife is sleeping with the former manager. But he’s also owing money to a bookmaker, so when Lughi tells him she’s putting him on the transfer list, he perks up – until his headaches finally manifest into an aneurysm which kills him.

After this episode, there’s the very start of Billy Liar, at which point the recording ends.

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