Wagatha Christie case: I was there for the birth of the Wag but Rebekah Vardy vs Coleen Rooney has probably killed her off – Aidan Smith

Remember Footballers’ Wives? In the ya-boo-sucks manner of all fans of the game, I liked that it was a send-up of English excess, made by Scots.

To wit, our boys in dark blue might have struggled to beat the Three Lions over 90 minutes, but in the course of an hour of ITV primetime, we were able to enjoy the extra-marital affairs, Pride and Prejudice-themed over-the-top weddings, even-more-over-the-top Ancient Egypt-themed weddings, baby-swaps, kidnappings, catfights and murders, including the tragic case of the star striker who immediately following a cocktail of champagne, coke and Viagra was bonked to death.

Possibly the schlocky geniuses behind the show at Shed Productions – Brian Park, Eileen Gallagher and Ann McManus – didn’t know their Arsenals from their elbows, but that didn’t matter. Footballers’ Wives was too much fun.

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It ran out of puff eventually, just like that star striker, but right now I’m wondering if Park, Gallagher and McManus possibly put their heads and their fevered imaginations together and dreamed up a storyline uncannily similar to the Wagatha Christie libel trial that’s just played out – only to bin it along with the diabolical drama. Too silly, too far-fetched, they decided. We’re pushing the bounds of credibility too much.

Rebekah Vardy arrives at the High Court in London for the "Wagatha Christie" libel trial in which she and fellow footballer's wife Coleen Rooney dragged their reputations through the mud (Picture: Niklas Halle'n)

The pigeon quote? That wouldn’t fly. One Wag would not insist about another Wag that trying to make her see reason was “like arguing with a pigeon. You can tell it that you are right and it is wrong but it’s still going to shit in your hair”. Ah, but Rebekah Vardy really did say this about Coleen Rooney.

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The stuff about a key exhibit in the case, a mobile phone, having been dropped over the side of a boat and was now lying somewhere at the bottom of the North Sea? Ah, but this was actually alleged in court. And was followed by David Sherborne, QC for Rooney, asking: “We know that [the] phone is now in Davy Jones’ Locker, don’t we, Mrs Vardy?”

To which Vardy replied: “I’m sorry, I don’t know who Davy Jones is.”

Now, the Shed gang could have scribbled down potential clashes between a showboating public-school barrister and the wife of a multi-millionaire footballer currently enjoying a gilded existence but who had it tough in early life, only to red-pen that one because of similar concerns: nobody would believe such a ludicrously laughable exchange taking place.

Not in one of their mad melodramas and certainly not for real in the High Court in London. In a case costing upwards of £3 million. At a time like this.

Maybe the time has something to do with it, explaining our fascination with Wagatha Christie and also our prurience. Because of war, political scandal and just about everyone apart from English Premier League footballers and their Wags struggling financially, we’ve chosen to lose ourselves in the gruesomely salacious detail of the bitchfest, every last bit of birdseed. Actually, we would probably have done this anyway.

Unless you live in a cave, perhaps under the North Sea, you will know that the action has been brought by Vardy against Rooney for accusing her of leaking stories about the latter to a tabloid – but these were fictitious, placed on Rooney’s private Instagram account as part of a sting.

Who’s won? Apart from m’learned friends, you mean? That won’t be known for a while although if Vardy was hoping the case would stop the abuse of her on Twitter, her day in court hasn’t succeeded. Meanwhile Rooney has had to recall the humiliation of husband Wayne’s indiscretions.

Already, though, some damning verdicts are in. “The death of privacy” is one headline from the aftermath. Not even the North Sea can protect against dirty linen being aired in public because social media is both omniscient and omnipotent, although this was designer linen and you or I, who would never want such personal matters pegged on the line for the lurid enjoyment of all, could not afford the legal fees in any case.

“The death of the sisterhood” is another. Or if not death then a severe wounding. Women: we’ve let everyone see how nasty we can be, and been reminded how much men like to watch us scrapping.

Finally: “the death of the Wag”. I saw her being born. Two months after the last-ever episode of Footballers’ Wives on the strassen of a spa town at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Writing a book about a Scot – me – trying to find it within himself to support England, I was easily diverted from this frankly impossible task, to say nothing of the grim football played by David Beckham and co, by the shopaholic frolics and bellini-fuelled karaoke nights of Posh Spice, Peter Crouch’s better half Abbey Clancy and, as she was then, Coleen McLoughlin.

The Wags, as they were immediately christened, provided good copy in Baden-Baden. There were stories about Coleen flying home for hair extensions, having run out of clothes and prompting the headline “England crisis!”, and of “tanning therapists” jetting in with vital bronzing advice. Three Lions top brass thought the Wags might like some privacy as they sunbathed and erected screens round their pool; the girls, enjoying the attention, took them down.

They sparked lively debate with female columnists complaining: “Pah, so much for post-feminism!” Then came the post-post-feminist retort: “The Wags are fun and we want their lifestyles!” The team flopped out and the Wags – racking up a total spend of £1,034,239 – were blamed. But this was grossly unfair. England are perfectly capable of mucking up a tournament all by themselves.

But, despite some going on to write books and appear on Strictly Come Dancing, the fun may now be over. Or at least will be conducted with much less ostentation. Wagatha Christie, putting the cat among the pigeons, has seen to that.


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