They say it's a man's game - but Donna Powell proved the opposite is true by making history on Wednesday night. The 27-year-old primary school assistant became the first woman to take charge of an all-male team when she led out amateur side Fisher Athletic against Eastleigh in a match in south-east London. Champions Hill - a 500-seater non-league ground wedged between a supermarket and a housing estate - was the setting for the clash in the Conference South, the sixth tier of English football.
Powell got the job on a one-off basis as a reward for raising £500 sponsorship money when officials at cash-strapped Fisher came up with the "be a manager for a game" scheme to boost their dwindling funds. Normally she works as a turnstile operator on matchdays - but more than 200 hardy souls turned out on a cold night to see her make her managerial bow. She had to endure chants of "You should have stayed in the kitchen" from Eastleigh fans during the first-half as the high-flying visitors, lying fourth in the division won 4-0 as Powell was unable to stop the struggling hosts suffering a 12th consecutive defeat.
After the match, Powell hit back at critics who dismissed the occasion as merely a publicity stunt. "It wasn't easy for me to shout from the touchline with my little voice," she said. "But I felt the players were listening to me. At half-time I asked for more determination and they gave me that." email@example.com