They used to be big fake tan hair glamazons descending the stadium steps in their towering heels.
But the current generation of WAGs is much more down-to-earth, prepared to keep the attention on the field rather than themselves.
Indeed very few of this year’s ‘wives and girlfriends’ have much public profile at all – some don’t even have public social media accounts – and instead spend their time pursuing careers and raising families away from the public eye.
The shift has been noted by football fans and cultural commentators, who question whether yesterday’s attention-seeking WAGs – Cheryls, Coleens and Victoria – are gone for good.
Speaking to FEMAIL, popular culture commentator Nick Ede explained the pluses of today are tending to be ‘down-to-earth, supportive, academic and refined’, preferring to stay out of the spotlight, and forging careers in everything from physiotherapy to property development and law.
It came as the former Saturdays star and wife of former England footballer Frankie Bridge spoke out against the term, branding it ‘insulting and insulting’.
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Pop culture expert Nick Ede told FEMAIL that WAGs as we know them don’t exist anymore. Described; Cheryl, Coleen Rooney and Victoria Beckham cheer on their partner at the 2006 World Cup
England’s current Euro star WAGs are pictured showing their support for their partners back at the start of the tournament in June. (Photo left to right: Kieran Trippier’s wife Charlotte; Jordan Pickford’s fiancé Megan Davison; Harry Maguire’s fiancee Fern Hawkins; Kyle Walker’s wife Annie Kilner and Luke Shaw’s boyfriend Anouska Santos)
Speaking on ITV’s Loose Women this morning, Frankie said: “I find it really frustrating because, to be honest, it means wife and boyfriend. So technically it’s not offensive, but they don’t refer to Wayne as ‘HAB’ and it’s used as a derogatory term.
‘That’s why I didn’t like it and it used to bother me, because I’ve worked for years in the public eye, they know I have my own career and even if I didn’t, why am I the way I am now. because I married someone who plays this sport?’
Frankie and Wayne met in 2011 and welcomed their first son Parker in October 2013, married the following year at Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire before Frankie gave birth to their second son, Carter in 2015.
In 2012, Frankie, 32, was forced to resign from The Saturdays when he was hospitalized for depression, which the star has struggled with since the age of 15.
Former Saturdays singer Frankie Bridge, who is married to retired English footballer Wayne Bridge, spoke out this morning against the term WAG, calling it ‘insulting and insulting’.
After being admitted to a psychiatric ward in 2011, she told BBC Morning Live last year that the experience made her realize that her supportive partner Wayne, 40, was a ‘keeper’.
Frankie later added: ‘Cursed if you do, damned if you don’t marry someone married to a player, people don’t like it if a player’s wife or girlfriend on TV makes money, people don’t like that – said he lives from behind him or whatever’.
Unlike the much-loved WAGs of the past such as Coleen Rooney, Victoria Beckham and Cheryl, who garnered as much attention as their fellow footballers, Nick believes a new era of women supporting their partners offers a ‘refreshing’ change.
‘Gone are the fake days of everything when WAGS splashed the tabloids with fake chocolate, high heels and hair extensions’, says Nick. ‘When Cheryl, Coleen and Posh rule the stands, it’s all more in the make-up department and less in the clothing department.
Nick agrees that in stark contrast to past WAGs making headlines, this year’s wife includes more private women like Katie Kane. Pictured watching her husband play during England’s first Euro match
Jordan Pickford’s wife, Megan Davison, pictured in the front stands watching her husband play his first Euro match on June 13
‘Now that a new generation of Wags have emerged and it is refreshing to see that they are understated, supportive, academic and refined.’
Meanwhile, Wag Wars writer Sam Kimberley believes that the wife and girlfriend of the England national team are moving away from the clichés that come with being a WAG, and instead navigating their own career paths away from the public eye.
‘Today’s WAGS are very different from the traditional cliché of strutting girls with big hair, fake browns and sky-high stilettos,’ she told the Telegraph.
‘They are not trophies – they are a new generation of graduates and business women with careers of their own and a much more modest sense of style.’
Nick agrees that in stark contrast to past WAG headlines, this year the wife includes more private women like Katie Kane, who supports her husband Harry with sweet Instagram posts of her kids in England shirts with their faces out of sight.
Mia McClenaghan is not just a pretty face, she just finished her Bachelor of Laws degree at Royal Holloway University
Fern Hawkins has been dating Leicester defender Harry Maguire for nine years, with the pair recently engaged. Sheffield Beauty is a First Class Graduate in physiotherapy
Raheem Sterling and fiancé Paige Milian (seen on holiday earlier this year) have founded a new company called Milian Property Group Ltd and he says they plan to add to their property portfolio.
‘It’s this subtle approach that makes for a refreshing change that fits perfectly into the new era of WAG, he said.
‘Attention should be on the pitch and not the stands and WAGs are now enjoying their anonymity and the fact that they don’t have to dress up until nine to draw attention to themselves or their partner, he said.
‘WAGs like Harry Maguire’s fiancé, Fern Hawkins, have real jobs; she is a physiotherapist and Mia McClenaghan, boyfriend of Reese James, who studies law at the University of London, actively defended her when she faced racial slurs.
Raheem Sterling’s fiancé, Paige Milian is an ambitious young woman, working in sports management and, as a property developer, managing the properties she owns.
‘Ahead of the big game, it’s great to see that wags have evolved and the name WAG is starting to lose its former connotations – it’s taking on a much more sophisticated and somewhat plausible meaning in 2021.’