International Women’s Day – Manchester Football

Today (8th March 2021) is International Women’s Day and so I thought I’d post a few links to great content about pioneering women connected to Manchester football on this website.

My intention over the coming months and years is to make http://www.GJFootballArchive.com an archive of my past writing and new material on all aspects of football in the Manchester region (and material on activity beyond Manchester or involving national figures connected with the region). To subscriber to my site then please see the details below.

This includes material on the women’s teams of Manchester, such as the pioneering Wythenshawe/Manchester Ladies of the 1940s & 1950s; the Manchester Corinthians (globe trotting pioneering team of the 1940s to 1980s); Manchester City; Manchester United and the other clubs, such as FC Redstar, that have existed in our region. It also includes profiles and interviews with footballers; those working in football and the media; footballers’ partners; supporters and more.

All of this is based on my detailed research and writing on football in the region. I attended my first women’s game in 1988 (home team was F.C. Redstar) and was a regular at their games and Manchester City Ladies (now Women) during their formative years, including brief details on their first ever game in my first book published in 1989. Since then I’ve also written Manchester City Women: An Oral History (see https://gjfootballarchive.com/shop/ to order copies) and am researching for a detailed history on women and football in Manchester at the moment.

Listed here are a few links to articles connected with women, football and Manchester that may be of interest:

I did an interview with Premier League World on Manchester City Women. It’s episode 38 and can be viewed here (if you have Amazon Prime): https://www.amazon.co.uk/Premier-League-World/dp/B08HDGSNZN Or it can be viewed on the following channels:

BT Sport 1                                      Monday              12pm

BT Sport 1                                      Tuesday              12:30am

Sky Sports Premier League         Thursday            5pm

Sky Sports Premier League         Friday                  3pm

Sky Sports Premier League         Saturday             8am

The feature is the last one shown in the programme, so please keep watching to the end. The piece starts after about 18 minutes.

Here’s a story about Jan Lyons, a Mancunian who went to play for Juventus in the 1970s: https://gjfootballarchive.com/2020/12/26/the-italian-job-a-manchester-corinthians-journey/

Here’s a piece I’ve written on the Manchester Corinthians: https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/02/14/pioneering-mancunian-women/

A piece on games between Manchester City and Manchester United: https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/02/11/manchester-city-v-manchester-united/

The story of Manchester City’s relaunch: https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/01/24/manchester-citys-womens-team-the-relaunch/

The earliest film of Manchester City Ladies/Women: https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/01/22/manchester-city-ladies-the-earliest-film/

An academic article on my Manchester City Women project: https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/01/07/establishing-women-in-sports-history-manchester-city-football-club/

Here’s Steve Bolton’s guest blog on Manchester Ladies from 1940s/50s. Part One: https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/02/26/guest-blog-steve-bolton-the-pioneering-manchester-ladies-part-one/

Part Two: https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/03/05/guest-blog-steve-bolton-the-pioneering-manchester-ladies-part-two/

To access all of the above and everything else on this site please subscribe:

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Guest Blog – Steve Bolton: The Pioneering Manchester Ladies Part Two

Today’s guest blog follows on from last week’s guest blog in which Steve Bolton talked of the Manchester Ladies (who also went under the name Wythenshawe Ladies, City of Manchester Ladies, Manchester City Ladies the 1940s & 1950s) and their early years. Today is part two of Steve’s research into this pioneering women’s club (part one can be viewed here: https://gjfootballarchive.com/?p=1863 ).

Over the last few years much has been written about pioneering women’s football teams and Steve’s research is certainly adding to that. I’m sure anyone reading this already knows about my book on Manchester City Women (available here: https://gjfootballarchive.com/shop/ ) and about the other articles on this blog discussing other leading women’s clubs, including the Manchester Corinthians (see: https://gjfootballarchive.com/category/womens-football-2/ ). 

If you played for a women’s team in the Manchester region during the 1940s to 1960s then please get in touch. I’m writing a detailed history of women and football in Manchester and your information may help both mine and Steve Bolton’s research. 

If you played an active part in developing women’s football prior to the FA ban then please get in touch by emailing gary@GJFootballArchive.com or follow me on twitter: @garyjameswriter or facebook.com/garyjames4 

Guest Blog – Steve Bolton: The Pioneering Manchester Ladies Part One

Over the last few years much has been written about pioneering women’s football teams and I’m delighted to say that Manchester has had several of these over the years. I’m sure anyone reading this knows about my book on Manchester City Women (available here: https://gjfootballarchive.com/shop/ ) and about the other articles on this blog discussing other clubs, including the Manchester Corinthians (see: https://gjfootballarchive.com/category/womens-football-2/ ).

Thanks to the Manchester Corinthians the story of pioneering Mancunian female footballers has received some decent coverage in recent years but it would be wrong to think that the women who played for Corinthians were the first women who played football in our region. There are games staged in Manchester going back to the 1880s of course. However, following the 1921 ban (which saw the FA ban women’s football games from FA affiliated pitches) opportunities were restricted significantly.

In Preston the famous Dick Kerr Ladies have been heralded for their efforts and in the 1950s & 1960s Manchester Corinthians found global fame for their exploits, but football tends to overlook many other clubs and in 1940s Manchester, before the Corinthians became established there was another female football club that promoted the sport, charity work and female prowess.

For today’s guest blog researcher Steve Bolton provides the first part of his research into the stories, facts and evidence of this Manchester team:

Part two will be published soon.

If you played for a women’s team in the Manchester region during the 1940s to 1960s then please get in touch. I’m writing a detailed history of women and football in Manchester and your information may help both mine and Steve Bolton’s research.

If you played an active part in developing women’s football prior to the FA ban then please get in touch by emailing gary@GJFootballArchive.com or follow me on twitter: @garyjameswriter or facebook.com/garyjames4 

Pioneering Mancunian Women

2019 marked the 70th anniversary of the establishment of Manchester Corinthians – a pioneering women’s team that toured the globe promoting women’s football and Manchester.  

The Manchester Corinthians were a team of local women who were brought together under the management of Percy Ashley at a time when the FA banned women from playing on FA affiliated grounds. Established in 1949, Ashley’s team toured the world promoting the sport and demonstrating what a dedicated group of players the club possessed. This was at a time when FA affiliated clubs were banned from allowing women’s games on their grounds.

Many of the Corinthians are now in their seventies and eighties but they still get together from time to time to talk of their exploits. In September 2019 I managed to arrange with Manchester City for some of the women who played for the Corinthians to be guests of City at a women’s game at the Academy Stadium. While there I chatted with a few of the women. Margaret Hilton, who now lives in Australia, told me her memories of a groundbreaking tour in 1957: “Bert Trautmann, the City ‘keeper, joined us on a tour of Germany. He acted as an ambassador and watched some of our games. We saw him around but I was too shy to chat to him. It was great having that recognition and support.”

Film of one of their games and of Bert Trautmann in attendance can be viewed here: https://www.britishpathe.com/video/stuttgart-womens-football/query/trautmann+ladies

Corinthians, representing England, won a major competition in Germany which was, at the time, regarded as a women’s European Cup – these were the early days of cross-continent football and UEFA were not involved with organising competitions for the women’s game. Anne Grimes felt that winning that competition in 1957 encouraged the club to make further trips abroad and to play in major stadia. 50,000 watched them in a game at Benfica and then in 1960 the Corinthians ventured outside of Europe for a tour of South America. It was supposed to be a six week tour but such was the popularity of the games that the women were asked to stay for three months. Margaret ‘Whitty’ Whitworth told me: “We stayed in all the best hotels and it was quite glamourous. There were lots of scrapes along the way. We were young women and loved every minute of it. We didn’t care about the FA ban, we just got on and played.” 

Whitty had joined the club as an eleven year old in 1958 and was fourteen when she travelled to South America. Her parents had to give permission but some of the women also gave up their jobs for the opportunity of representing Manchester – and England – on the tour. Whitty: “What a great experience for us all! The stadiums… the reception from the crowd… it was all incredible but we all just took it in our stride. It’s only afterwards that you look back and realise how significant it all was.”

A second team was established by Percy Ashley as time progressed called the Nomads – it’s no coincidence that Ashley chose the names Corinthians and Nomads. Both these names had been used by prominent amateur male football clubs that had toured promoting the game and this is exactly what he sought from his women’s teams. He wanted them to promote all that was positive about female participation in football and they certainly achieved that over the decades. The Nomads and Corinthians would face each other regularly, raising money for charity and, to ensure fairness and quality, the teams would be balanced when appropriate.

The Corinthians and Nomads won a host of tournaments and trophies over the years and in 1970 Whitty was player of the tournament when they found trophy success at Reims in France. Margaret Shepherd, nicknamed Tiny due to her height (she was a tall central defender!), remembers the excitement of that trip and the celebrations that followed the victory over Juventus in the final: “It was a great experience and the celebrations were so special.” 

The experience of playing against leading European teams was to have a major impact on the lives of the women. In fact, Jan Lyons, decided to move to Italy to spend more time playing football and ended up playing for Juventus for two seasons in the Italian women’s league of the period.

Manchester Corinthians survived into the modern era and continued to play once the FA ban was lifted – a ban they had challenged. The club was still going strong in 1982 but, due to ground changes and related issues it soon officially changed its name to Woodley Ladies, though was often still known as Corinthians. Some of the 1980s team members became players with Manchester City’s women’s team in its inaugural season of 1988-89. By that time the volume of women’s clubs, leagues and competitions had grown. 

The club was resurrected for a period in the late 1980s, playing in Tameside, but it was during the period between 1949 and 1975 that Corinthians were true pioneers. They promoted the sport globally at a time when many refused to accept that women could play football.

Hopefully, over the coming years, we’ll be able to promote the club, its achievements and these pioneering women further in Manchester. 

I’m writing a detailed history of women and football in Manchester. If you played an active part in developing women’s football prior to the FA ban then please get in touch by emailing gary@GJFootballArchive.com or follow me on twitter: @garyjameswriter or facebook.com/garyjames4 

My book on Manchester City Women (which talks of the evolution of women’s football since the late 70s and the Corinthians women who played for City) can be ordered here (all copies will be signed by me): https://gjfootballarchive.com/shop/

Establishing women in sports history: Manchester City Football Club

ABSTRACT

This paper provides an overview of an oral history project focusing on the experiences of female footballers, in particular those playing for Manchester City Women since its formation as a community initiative in 1988, through to its modern-day position as a leading Women’s Super League club. It discusses the development of the project, analysis of the methodology employed and provides high-level findings on the club’s history, the participants and the research process. For too long female participation, even at England’s most famous clubs, has not been widely recognised, reported on or understood. This project, supported by a professional football club, begins to address these omissions. It does so by focusing on personal testimonies, together with archive material to generate an historical account of how a team, established as a community initiative, developed into a major trophy-winning club.

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The Italian Job: A Manchester Corinthian’s Journey

Today women’s football in England is recognised as a significant sport with a professional national league, together with a supporting pyramid beneath that. There are many issues within the game of course, but it is in a more prominent position than only a decade ago and its profile is considerably higher than it was in the 1970s. At the start of that decade the FA ban preventing women’s games from taking place on FA approved grounds was still in place and teams like Manchester Corinthians, established in 1949, continued to fight for their right to play on an equal footing with the men.

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Dr Gary James is writing a detailed history of women and football in Manchester. If you played an active part in developing women’s football prior to the FA ban then please get in touch via the Manchester FA or follow Gary on twitter: @garyjameswriter. His new book, “Manchester City Women: An Oral History” is available at £16.95.