On Friday December 3 2021 I staged an event at Hebden Bridge Town Hall to mark the centenary of the FA Ban of women’s football being played on FA affiliated grounds. The ban, which also meant that those working for FA affiliated clubs could be punished if they were involved in coaching or organising women’s football teams, lasted until 1970. The event included a presentation on the history of women’s football and interviews with former players from Manchester Corinthians, Manchester City, Manchester United, Doncaster Belles and England. Here’s a few details about the night.
Firstly I’d like to thank Margaret Whitworth, Margaret Shepherd, Lesley Wright, Jane Morley, Gail Redston and Issy Pollard for their contribution to the night. I’d also like to thank Geoff Matthews and his company Cansquared for sponsoring the evening.
Over eighty people came to Hebden Bridge Town Hall for this important event. During the evening I walked through the history of the women’s game, highlighting the development of the sport during the period from 1880 to 1914 – a time which saw high profile games and clubs become established in a number of locations (including Manchester and Liverpool).
The presentation moved on to talk about the developments during World War One and the establishment of several prominent teams, including Dick, Kerr Ladies of course and Huddersfield Atalanta. I also explained the extent of the game by 1921. Some often talk about a few high profile games and they are important but, for me, it’s the extent to which the sport penetrates down the levels that is most important. At the talk I explained about events in Hebden Bridge and other places where women’s football was openly discussed or promoted in 1921.
I discussed the ridiculous reasons the FA claimed for banning women’s football – health and financial mismanagement – and how they could easily have been challenged or investigated properly if the FA had actually wanted to promote the sport.
During the evening I also gave examples of men who were punished for coaching women’s teams – including a groundsman from the 1950s! This for me is important as it demonstrates that the FA did punish people and did want to kill off female participation.
The presentation saw the story of women’s football brought into the 21st Century but the best part of the evening for me was without doubt the interviews with the former players who were our guests that night. These interviews were with Margaret Whitworth (Manchester Corinthians), Margaret Shepherd (Manchester Corinthians), Lesley Wright (Manchester Corinthians, Manchester City & more), Jane Morley (Manchester United, Redstar & more), Gail Redston (Manchester City, Oldham & more) and Issy Pollard (Bronte, Doncaster Belles & England).
In the audience were several other footballers including Stacey Copeland and others who played for Manchester City, Redstar and other teams from Greater Manchester and Yorkshire.
Hopefully, I’ll get to post some of the interviews from the night here one day, but in the meantime follow the links below to read other features on the Manchester Corinthians, Manchester City etc. Don’t forget there are also a limited number of copies of my Manchester City Women: An Oral History book available via my shop page here: