Women’s Football and the 1921 FA Ban

Recently, I was one of the co-authors of an academic article looking at how the FA’s ban on women’s football occurred and how it affected the development of the sport. It also compared that ban with what occurred in Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland. Some assume a ‘one size fits all’ approach but that was definitely not the case and it is important that national and regional histories of women’s football are performed to fully understand what was happening. As with men’s football, each region is different and this article was an attempt to help develop a wider understanding. You can read the article here (It’s free to download so you may as well have a look):

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17460263.2021.2025415

In that article there’s talk of a male coach who was punished by the FA for being involved in women’s football – this wasn’t in the 1920s. It was post WW2 and demonstrates that the FA Ban wasn’t simply about stopping women from playing on FA approved ground. It was more involved than that. To my knowledge, apart from an earlier biographical article I wrote, that had never been identified in academic writing or work on women’s football.

Too often people assume that what was true in, say, Birmingham was also true in Leicester. Or that research into something occurring in Burnley would explain what happened in Manchester, but it doesn’t. I’ve outlined in research into the origins of men’s football that the wider Manchester conurbation followed a different path than towns in Lancashire that were only a few miles further north than Manchester. Even within Greater Manchester what happens in Bolton or Wigan for either men’s or women’s football could be considerably different than what happened in Hyde, Altrincham or Gorton.

Here’s hoping women’s football gets the breadth of regional studies that it needs to ensure we have a good understanding of what happened town by town, region by region. My December talk at Hebden Bridge added evidence connected with that part of West Yorkshire (nowhere near enough of course!) and my project on female participation and involvement in Manchester is aiming to document how women’s football developed there, together with wider involvement and interest in football by women.

Quite a few articles appear on my website here about women’s football. Most are free to download. Use the tags, tabs, search and categories to find more. Thanks.

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