In their coverage of the row between footballers’ wives Colleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy this week, the media have noted how Colleen figured out where the stories appearing in The Sun about her were coming from, and have dubbed her “WAGatha Christie” …
Mrs Marple had gathered them all in the home dressing room.
It was the only room large enough, since football grounds tend not to have a drawing room, and certainly not a library. Now it was filled with eleven wives and girlfriends who had been through so much together as their husbands and boyfriends had stormed successfully through the Premier League and across Europe – handbag shopping in Milan, selfieing at the cathedral in Barcelona, searching in vain for the canals in Vienna.
Each of them were so much like their husbands, and indeed the same was true in reverse, to judge from the lingering smell of hair product in the dressing room. Mrs Goalkeeper was quick to blame anybody but herself for her mistakes. Mrs Big Centre Back was quiet but utterly ruthless with her elbows at a fashion sale. Mrs Overpriced Winger thought she was better than everyone else. Mrs Club Captain looked after all the others.
Mrs Marple, 30 years old and blonde, was also like her husband, the Midfield Maestro Trevor, who was likeable, unassuming and a lot cleverer than people thought.
Mrs Rising Star, too, was like her husband, in that she was young, gorgeous and a huge media celebrity. She was unlike him, though, in that she was alive.
The Rising Star was dead, having eaten a poisoned chocolate éclair after the game the previous Saturday. It seemed he was not the intended victim, though – the éclair had been one of a tray of eleven left out for the WAGs, who had a tradition of celebrating if the team won by allowing themselves just one éclair each, so as not to put on weight – the six glasses of prosecco that each of them would down during the actual game they deemed to be calorie-balanced by the amount of jumping up and down they did.
It looked as if the WAGs had been the target. CCTV had shown the Club Mascot approaching the table not long before the Rising Star had gone into the room, so he had been arrested. The media were speculating about misogyny, jealousy, possibly a crazed obsession.
So the girls were a little unsure as to why Mrs Marple had brought them all together. It is an immutable rule of life, though – if a crime has been committed and an amateur with no jurisdiction asks you to gather, then gather you must. Now they all listened as she began to speak.
“To begin with,” she said, “it wasn’t the Mascot.”
“But he was on the CCTV,” said Mrs Big Centre Back.
“A giant furry dice was on the CCTV,” corrected Mrs Marple. This was true. The club, like most others, was sponsored by an Online Gambling company, and the Mascot was Dicey Reilly, a large furry dice. “I looked at the footage and noticed that the outfit is too big for the person wearing it, who is very, very slim. So I thought, cherchez la femme.”
There was an uncomprehending silence. “It means ‘look for the woman’, sighed Mrs Overpriced Winger, who was French.
“You mean one of us?” asked Mrs Goalkeeper. “Why would we try to kill each other?”
“Not each other,” said Mrs Marple. “The killer got the victim she wanted.”
“My Steve?” gasped Mrs Rising Star. “Why would anyone want to kill him?”
“Any one of a number of reasons,” said Mrs Marple. “You yourself, for example, might have wanted to kill him because he had an affair with Nicky here.” – she indicated Mrs Goalkeeper, who was heavily pregnant.
“Now hang on -” began Mrs Goalkeeper.
“Or you, Nicky,” went on Mrs Marple, “because he wouldn’t leave his wife for you. Or you,” she went on, nodding at Mrs Big Centre Back, “because he outbid you for that twelve-bedroom house that you wanted -”
“The selfish git,” said Mrs Big Centre Back, before she could stop herself.
“Or any of you,” said Mrs Marple, “because to be honest he was a pain in the arse.”
Mrs Rising Star opened her mouth to protest, then shrugged. “Fair point,” she said.
“But what actually got the Rising Star killed,” said Mrs Marple, “was the fact that he was the Rising Star.” She turned to Mrs Club Captain. “Isn’t that right, Orla?”
They all stared at Mrs Club Captain, whose look of maternal benevolence suddenly turned to white-faced malevolence.
“Yes,” she snarled. “I did it. He was the up-and-coming hero, and he was starting to dictate to the manager. I heard him say he wanted to play in the hole (yes, it’s an actual position) and that’s where my husband plays. So I got rid of him.”
“How did you get him to eat the éclair?” asked Mrs Big Centre Back.
“I just told him they were there,” said Mrs Club Captain. “I knew he believed he was entitled to take anything he wanted -” she glanced over at Mrs Goalkeeper- “no offence, Nicky,” she said. “I also knew he’d take the biggest one -” she glanced over again.
“Don’t start,” said Mrs Goalkeeper.
“- so it was simple,” said Mrs Club Captain.
“But why?” wailed Mrs Rising Star.
“I did it for the team, of course,” said Mrs Club Captain.
“How was that for the team?” said Mrs Overpriced Winger. “He was their best player.”
“Not that team,” said Mrs Club Captain scornfully, “with their wet towel slaps and their stupid nicknames and their ‘banter’, which is just relentless slagging. I mean us. We’ve been through everything together, and he was threatening to spoil it.”
“You didn’t do it for the team,” said Mrs Marple quietly. “You did it for yourself. The team would have gone on anyway. It always has.”
“Yes, but without me in it,” snapped Mrs Club Captain. “My husband would have been sold off to some lower league side, and he’d have been playing teams like Grimsby Town or Stockport County, where lunch for the WAGs would be a bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale and a Greggs Sausage Roll. I wouldn’t be in the papers anymore. I wouldn’t be invited on game shows. I wouldn’t have a million followers on Instagram.”
“Well, if you think the food at Grimsby is bad,” said Mrs Marple, “just wait till you try it in prison.”
“You reckon?” said Mrs Club Captain. “They’ll have to catch me first.”
She made a dash towards the door. Mrs Big Centre Back kicked the two legs out from underneath her, then, just as her husband would have done, held her hands up in innocence.
“It’s ok this time,” said Mrs Marple, smiling.
Mrs Overpriced Winger took out her phone and dialled the police. Mrs Goalkeeper stared in open admiration at Mrs Marple. “How did you figure it all out?” she asked.
Mrs Marple shrugged. “I’m not just a pretty face,” she said.