Talk – 1st July 2pm at National Football Museum

Join Dr Gary James for a free event at the National Football Museum celebrating the history of women’s football. The event kicks off with a first half during which Gary outlines the history of women’s football locally with stories of games played in Trafford in the 1890s; the sport’s growth in the early twentieth century; the 1921 FA ban and its local impact; the pioneering teams and individuals of the interwar and post war years; then the game’s rise and development throughout to the modern day. With particular emphasis on games and teams from Trafford and Manchester this promises to be an entertaining talk.

The second half sees former players from the pioneering Manchester Corinthians, Manchester City and the original Manchester United women’s teams will be interviewed about their careers. Their experiences and enthusiasm for the sport provide a valuable insight into over sixty years of football history. Trafford and Manchester have a proud history of women’s football and this event will explain how the women ensured the game developed despite a near fifty-year ban and other obstacles placed in their way.

Panelists are Jan Lyons, Lesley Wright & Jane Morley (see below for biographical details).

Although the talk is free tickets must be booked in advance via the following link:

Jan Lyons

Following the Aberfan disaster in 1966 in which 116 children and 28 adults were killed a charity match was set up at Jan’s school between the boys and the girls. Jan was by far the best player, outshining all others to win the ‘man of the match’ award.

Her parents saw a piece in a newspaper advertising trials for the Manchester Corinthians and Jan relished the opportunity. She was offered the chance to join the club in February 1968.Jan participated in all the Corinthians prominent games of the period, including the annual Stretford Pageant, which was perceived as a prominent exhibition of the sport. 

In 1970 Jan was a member of the Corinthians team which defeated crack Italian team Juventus in the final of the Reims tournament in France. This ultimately led to her joining Juventus in 1973. When she resigned from her work at a local bank, her manager was amazed that she was leaving a banking career to play football.

Some suggested to Jan that if she played in Italy opportunities to play for England would end but, with typical determination, Jan believed that playing in Italy, where there was a strong league structure in place, was a great opportunity.

Lesley Wright

Lesley Wright joined Manchester Corinthians in the early 1970s, participating in their tours and in league competition. She became a regular for the club and remained with them into the 1980s when a ground move led to the famous old club changing its name to Woodley Ladies.

Lesley continued to play for the club through to 1988-89 when she joined the newly established Manchester City. Playing in mostly a defensive role, she became an influential member of Manchester’s Blues as they competed in their first competitive season of 1989-90. She remained with the club into the 2000s. She has guested for other teams in the region, including Manchester United.

She has fulfilled a variety of coaching roles with Manchester City and also at Stockport County. 

In recent years she has taken up walking football and in 2022 is the manager of Droylsden’s women’s walking football team. She also became captain of the England Walking Football over 60s regional squad.

Jane Morley

Jane Morley joined the original Manchester United women’s team in the late 1970s, staying with them for six successful years. In 1985, together with other United players, she established FC Redstar and took the team into the North West Women’s Regional Football League where they achieved promotion in 1987 to the top division – at the time the highest league competition available. Playing in Stretford, FC Redstar impressed but player recruitment issues brought a premature end to the club in 1990.

Once her playing days were over Jane coached and managed at various levels with Manchester City Ladies for many years. Always keen to promote football to young girls Jane enjoyed developing an array of talent with the club. She also brought success to the club and managed the first team for a spell when they were based in Urmston, Trafford.

After leaving City Jane continued to develop opportunities for girls and young women within both Greater Manchester and in Cheshire. 

In 2022 she is secretary of Stockport County’s women’s team and has dedicated her adult life to promoting football for women and girls.

Dr Gary James is working for Trafford Archives on the Women’s Euros Heritage project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

History of Women’s Football 1st July 2pm to 4pm

Join me and several women who played for leading clubs in Trafford & Manchester for a celebration of women’s football. The event kicks off with a first half during which I outline the history of women’s football locally with stories of games played in Trafford in the 1890s; the sport’s growth in the early twentieth century; the 1921 FA ban and its local impact; the pioneering teams and individuals of the interwar and post war years; then the game’s rise and development throughout to the modern day. With particular emphasis on games and teams from Trafford and Manchester this promises to be an entertaining talk.

The second half takes on a different tone as former players from local teams take to the stage to provide their experiences. Former players from the pioneering Manchester Corinthians, Manchester City and the original Manchester United women’s teams will be interviewed about their careers. Their experiences and enthusiasm for the sport provide a valuable insight into over sixty years of football history. Trafford and Manchester have a proud history of women’s football and this event will explain how the women ensured the game developed despite a near fifty year ban and other obstacles placed in their way.

I’ll be posting further details on the guests being interviewed soon.

I’m working for Trafford Archives on the Women’s Euros Heritage project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. #WEURO2022 #HeritageFund

Manchester Corinthians Plaque

I promised an update on the plan we’ve been putting together to have a plaque erected to the Manchester Corinthians – a pioneering women’s team that was established in the 1940s and promoted football, Manchester and female endeavour across the world over the following four decades. Today we had a progress meeting which was attended by representatives from Manchester City Council, the Friends of Fog Lane Park, myself and, most importantly, Janice Lyons, Margaret Shepherd and Margaret Whitworth from the Corinthians.

The meeting went exceptionally well and we discussed the plans for the erection of a plaque and further recognition to highlight the Corinthians history and significance. It was extremely positive and the support and enthusiasm from Manchester City Council and the Friends of Fog Lane was great to see.

It is clear we will need to raise some funds to achieve all we want to achieve. Hopefully, we’ll be able to formally announce fundraising plans in June. Watch this space.

Everyone agreed that the Manchester Corinthians’ history needs celebrating at Fog Lane Park. Why Fog Lane? This was the site of their training ground and home for many, many years with their old pitch located close to the former home of Percy Ashley, the founder, which is still clearly visible today from the park.

If you’d like to find out more about the Corinthians then please use the category link below or search my site for more details. I’ve also written various other articles for the Manchester Evening News, When Saturday Comes, the Manchester FA and She Kicks. Some of these are linked to here:

https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/sport/football/manchester-corinthians-england-women-germany-17205385

https://www.manchesterfa.com/news/2020/mar/08/manchester-corinthians-ladies

There’s also this article I co-wrote on the FA’s ban of women’s football which also mentions Corinthians:

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

Manchester City Women’s First FA Cup Final

Manchester City Women’s (then as Manchester City Ladies) first FA Cup tie was a 7-2 defeat at Robin Park, Wigan on 17 September 1989. This was only the second competitive game ever played by the club and came less than a year after formation. Since then, apart from a couple of seasons in the 1990s when the Blues decided not to enter, City have been regular competitors in the competition. In September 1999 City achieved their record score in the competition: 26-0 v Norton, WFA Cup Extra Preliminary Round and on this day (May 13) in 2017 they reached the FA Cup final for the first time.

Here for subscribers is the story of that final as told by those involved and those who were there… as documented in Manchester City Women: An Oral History – get your copy here if you don’t want to subscribe to this site:

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content and every thing else on this when you subscribe today. £20 per year (about £1.67 a month) or £3 a month at a time. Thanks

Trafford Women’s Euros Project

Did you play football for a women’s team in the Trafford area or are you a female footballer from Trafford? If so, I’m keen to interview you for a new Heritage Lottery Funded project seeking to capture the stories of women footballers who came from the Trafford borough. Already I’ve heard from players connected with Manchester United’s original women’s team; FC Redstar; Trafford Ladies, Manchester Corinthians and more BUT I’m keen to capture as many stories as possible over the coming weeks. The project is part of a wider project connected with the Women’s Euros to be staged this summer (See below for details).

There are some excellent people in Trafford involved with the project and in the wider national project too. I’m delighted to be working with them. The interviews from this last week or so the first interviews with former footballers connected with Trafford occurred and the stories they have told will help the project enormously. We need more though and, not only that, but fans can contribute too.

Maybe you can help the project? We’re keen to capture your stories and memories. The details are:

In preparation for the Women’s Euros which will open at Old Trafford at the start of July Trafford Local Studies are keen to interview women who have played football. We are particularly keen on hearing the stories of women footballers from the borough or from women who played for teams within Trafford. 

For those uncertain the Trafford borough covers a number of towns and areas including Altrincham, Bowden, Flixton, Irlam, Old Trafford, Sale, Stretford, Timperley, Trafford Park and Urmston. If you are a woman from the area and played football then please get in touch. Also, if you played either for or against a team from the Trafford area then we also want to hear your memories of that game.

The Trafford area has incredibly strong links to the history of women’s football. In 1921 a game between Dick, Kerr Ladies and Bath Ladies at Old Trafford was watched by over 30,000 and over the following century significant games were staged at White City, Stretford, Timperley and other venues in our borough.

Over the last fifty years or so many prominent local teams have developed and played in the area such as Sale Hotel, Trafford, Redstar, Urmston and many others, while women from Trafford have played for prominent teams outside of the borough. 

We are keen to hear the memories of women who have contributed to this rich history of women’s football in the area. If you are from Trafford or played for a team based in our borough then please get in touch. Your memories will help to develop our archive and ensure future generations are aware of the experiences of women footballers. 

In addition, we are keen to locate objects, match programmes and memorabilia associated with women’s football, so if you have an item that you feel may help please get in touch. If you’ve got objects/images/programmes but don’t want to be interviewed please get in touch anyway – your collection will help us develop a wider understanding of women’s football in the area and the aim is to record as much about our teams as possible over the next few weeks.

If you would like to help then please email me via gary@GJFootballArchive.com

This project is part of a National Lottery Heritage funded progamme which seeks to bring this history into the light through a number of physical and virtual exhibitions, and to create a documentary record of the game at this moment, through oral history interviews with local players and fans and a contemporary collecting programme. 

Here’s some background from earlier this year:

https://www.trafford.gov.uk/residents/news/articles/2022/20220114-History-of-women%27s-football-to-be-revealed-and-celebrated-by-UEFA-Women%27s-EURO-2022-Heritage-Programme.aspx

Women’s Football Project

A week or so ago I announced that I’m working on a new Heritage Lottery Funded project seeking to capture the stories of women footballers who came from the Trafford borough or who women who played football at sites within Trafford. There are some excellent people in Trafford involved with the project and I’m delighted to be working with them. The project is part of a wider project connected with the Women’s Euros to be staged this summer (See below for details). This week the first interviews with former footballers connected with Trafford occurred and the stories they have told will help the project enormously. We need more though and, not only that, but fans can contribute too.

The above image provides details of an event at the National Football Museum which seeks to create a Women’s Euros footballing anthem for the Manchester region and the Royal Philarmonic Orchestra are keen to have input from fans, players and anyone with a strong interest in women’s football within the region. I know part of the event clashes with a MCFC men’s game but I’ve been assured that attendees can pop in for a time and won’t need to be there for the entire session. I’m not involved with the organisation or the main aspects of the day but I do intend popping in during the late morning if I can.

Alongside this, the call out to woman who have played football still stands and I’m keen to hear from Trafford women or women who played games in Trafford. Maybe you can help the project? We’re keen to capture your stories and memories. The details are:

In preparation for the Women’s Euros which will open at Old Trafford at the start of July Trafford Local Studies are keen to interview women who have played football. We are particularly keen on hearing the stories of women footballers from the borough or from women who played for teams within Trafford. 

For those uncertain the Trafford borough covers a number of towns and areas including Altrincham, Bowden, Flixton, Irlam, Old Trafford, Sale, Stretford, Timperley, Trafford Park and Urmston. If you are a woman from the area and played football then please get in touch. Also, if you played either for or against a team from the Trafford area then we also want to hear your memories of that game.

The Trafford area has incredibly strong links to the history of women’s football. In 1921 a game between Dick, Kerr Ladies and Bath Ladies at Old Trafford was watched by over 30,000 and over the following century significant games were staged at White City, Stretford, Timperley and other venues in our borough. In fact on this day (7 April) in 1968 the renowned Manchester Corinthians played Kippax Ladies (from Yorkshire not Maine Road!) at the White City Stadium (see image above).

Over the last fifty years or so many prominent local teams have developed and played in the area such as Sale Hotel, Trafford, Redstar, Urmston and many others, while women from Trafford have played for prominent teams outside of the borough. 

We are keen to hear the memories of women who have contributed to this rich history of women’s football in the area. If you are from Trafford or played for a team based in our borough then please get in touch. Your memories will help to develop our archive and ensure future generations are aware of the experiences of women footballers. 

In addition, we are keen to locate objects, match programmes and memorabilia associated with women’s football, so if you have an item that you feel may help please get in touch. 

If you would like to help then please email me via gary@GJFootballArchive.com

This project is part of a National Lottery Heritage funded progamme which seeks to bring this history into the light through a number of physical and virtual exhibitions, and to create a documentary record of the game at this moment, through oral history interviews with local players and fans and a contemporary collecting programme. 

Here’s some background from earlier this year:

https://www.trafford.gov.uk/residents/news/articles/2022/20220114-History-of-women%27s-football-to-be-revealed-and-celebrated-by-UEFA-Women%27s-EURO-2022-Heritage-Programme.aspx

Women Footballers

I’m delighted to say that I’m working on a new project capturing the stories of women who played football. The project is part of a wider project connected with the Women’s Euros to be staged this summer (See below for details). If you are a woman who has played football then maybe you can help the project. We’re keen to capture your stories and memories. The details are:

In preparation for the Women’s Euros which will open at Old Trafford at the start of July Trafford Local Studies are keen to interview women who have played football. We are particularly keen on hearing the stories of women footballers from the borough or from women who played for teams within Trafford. 

For those uncertain the Trafford borough covers a number of towns and areas including Altrincham, Bowden, Flixton, Irlam, Old Trafford, Sale, Stretford, Timperley, Trafford Park and Urmston. If you are a woman from the area and played football then please get in touch. Also, if you played either for or against a team from the Trafford area then we also want to hear your memories of that game.

The Trafford area has incredibly strong links to the history of women’s football. In 1921 a game between Dick, Kerr Ladies and Bath Ladies at Old Trafford was watched by over 30,000 and over the following century significant games were staged at White City, Stretford, Timperley and other venues in our borough. In fact on this day (7 April) in 1968 the renowned Manchester Corinthians played Kippax Ladies (from Yorkshire not Maine Road!) at the White City Stadium (see image above).

Over the last fifty years or so many prominent local teams have developed and played in the area such as Sale Hotel, Trafford, Redstar, Urmston and many others, while women from Trafford have played for prominent teams outside of the borough. 

We are keen to hear the memories of women who have contributed to this rich history of women’s football in the area. If you are from Trafford or played for a team based in our borough then please get in touch. Your memories will help to develop our archive and ensure future generations are aware of the experiences of women footballers. 

In addition, we are keen to locate objects, match programmes and memorabilia associated with women’s football, so if you have an item that you feel may help please get in touch. 

If you would like to help then please email me via gary@GJFootballArchive.com

This project is part of a National Lottery heritage programme which seeks to bring this history into the light through a number of physical and virtual exhibitions, and to create a documentary record of the game at this moment, through oral history interviews with local players and fans and a contemporary collecting programme. 

Here’s some background from earlier this year:

https://www.trafford.gov.uk/residents/news/articles/2022/20220114-History-of-women%27s-football-to-be-revealed-and-celebrated-by-UEFA-Women%27s-EURO-2022-Heritage-Programme.aspx

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.

The League Cup: The First Major Trophy

Today (March 5 2022) Manchester City’s women’s team takes on Chelsea in the 11th final of the FA Women’s League Cup. This is a hugely important trophy to Manchester’s Blues and to commemorate today’s final, here’s a piece looking at the history of the competition from Manchester City’s view point. The League Cup, sponsored by Continental during the seasons Manchester City have won the competition and therefore known as the Continental Cup, was the first national competition won after the relaunch. As such it became highly significant.

City supporter David Sheel explains how the first final was viewed: “The club put on some coaches for us. It was night match – that doesn’t help. It was played at Adams Park, Wycombe Wanderers’ ground. There were two coaches. The first was full of parents and young academy girls and a few supporters with the second just supporters. All free. We went – sadly a lot couldn’t go because it was a week night – and we played against Arsenal. A team full of established top players who had beat us 4-0 at City in the League. But, like semi final win over Chelsea at Hyde, there was just something about that night. Arsenal were all over us at times and did everything but score. Our defence was outstanding but we also had a few chances at the other end. Got to half-time nil-nil and you’re thinking ‘just one chance, please.’ I can remember the goal… Joey Johnston went down the line, whipped the ball in and Izzy Christiansen, the smallest player on the pitch, headed it in. There were four of us sat together – the coaches had arrived just before kick off so we’d had to leg it in and grab the first spaces you could find. The four of us jumped up but we were surrounded by Arsenal fans. They started giving us some abuse. The goal was in the 73rd minute and we hung on. 

“When the final whistle went I was as proud of that achievement as I was in 2011 when the men won the FA Cup. To me personally it was the same. I never ever felt I’d see the men win anything in my life and then the same was true with the women. I was so proud of the club. After that they did the trophy presentation and I picked up some of the tinsel that got fired out of the cannons when they did the presentation. All the players came over to the side afterwards. Jill Scott was showing me her medal. They shared it with the fans. They even let me put my hands on the trophy. We were all there together. A bit like the men and their success in 2011 I think this told the outside world that City were here to do business. Inside the club the ambition was there but until you win a major trophy the other clubs may not take you seriously.”

When I interviewed her in 2018-19 player Abbie McManus remembered: “That feeling of beating Arsenal, who have dominated women’s football for years and years. At the time we were perceived to be a bunch of nobodies that have just thrown a team together and everyone was saying you’re just throwing money at it. I didn’t actually play that game. I got sent off the game before so I missed it! But watching the game and the feeling of that win. Being the underdog. I don’t think that feeling will ever come back.”

Izzy Christiansen scored in the final and told me how she felt: “An amazing feeling to score in that game. There’s no other words to describe it. It was just probably one of the best days of my life, the fact that the ball hit the back of the net. The fact that it meant that we, as a team, and a club, got our first trophy. That kind of set us off on our journey really.  We had a taste of success at the start and that’s where we’ve stayed, wanting success.”

The Blues went on to win the Continental Cup in 2014, 2016 and 2019. City’s finals:

2014 City 1 Arsenal 0

Goalscorer: Christiansen (73)

Attendance: 3,697 (Adams Park, High Wycombe).

Referee Nigel Lugg (Surrey)

2016 City 1 Birmingham City 0 (aet)

Goalscorer: Bronze (105)

Attendance: 4,214  (Academy Stadium, Manchester). 

Referee Rebecca Welch (Durham)

2019 Arsenal 0 City 0 (City won 4-2 on penalties)

Attendance: 2,424  (Bramall Lane, Sheffield). 

Referee Lucy Oliver (Newcastle)

Let’s hope the Blues can add another piece of silverware today. Thanks to Dave Coop for the photo at the top of this page.

You can find out more about the history of City Women in my book Manchester City Women: An Oral History. Follow the link for details of how to buy:

#FABan Manchester Corinthians

At the start of December together with Geoff Matthews I staged a talk at Hebden Bridge on the FA ban of women’s football. It was a wonderful night and lots of attendees asked about the future and what they could do to help promote the stories of the women who played at a time when the FA tried to kill female participation in the sport. Well, today I want to talk about recognising the Manchester Corinthians.

As part of my longstanding project into female participation and involvement in football in Manchester I have been researching a variety of teams, including the original Manchester United and Manchester City teams, and these will form part of a book that I will eventually produce (it’ll be a while before I can develop this in the way I want). The book will be of a similar scope to my Manchester A Football History on men’s football.

Margaret Shepherd and Margaret Whitworth with me prior to the Hebden Bridge event

One of the key teams in Manchester’s football history is Manchester Corinthian Ladies. The team existed from the 1940s into the 1980s (some of their story appears in my book on Manchester City Women as several of their late 1970s players played for City in its inaugural season).

A lot has been written on the Corinthians (see the section on women’s football on this site for a few examples) but not nearly enough, plus there are some inaccuracies out there that need to be corrected. Basically, this team possessed a talented group of players who toured Europe and South America promoting football, female endeavour and Manchester.

I talked quite a bit about Corinthians at Hebden Bridge and we were fortunate to have three Corinthians as guests that night. Margaret Whitworth, Margaret Shepherd and Lesley Wright between them covered every season of the club’s life from the 1950s through to its demise (maybe next time we’ll get one of the players from the 1940s too).

What became clear was that we need to recognise these players further. on the night I mentioned my idea of having a plaque erected for the Corinthians in a significant/related location in Manchester. Several members of the audience thought this was a wonderful idea and asked if they could support the wider promotion of the Corinthians.

Previously I’d written an article in the Manchester City men’s match programme about the Corinthians and highlighted my desire to get a plaque erected about their achievements.

The talk at Hebden Bridge

Since that night I have written to appropriate people at Manchester City Council about the Corinthians and the idea, suggesting a location and asking what we need to do. I’m still awaiting a reply sadly but I will be pursuing this again soon. If possible it would be great if anyone who can help make this happen gets in touch.

Those present at Hebden Bridge – and anyone else reading this – can help by raising the topic with Manchester City Council or any other body you feel can help. Manchester has plaques connected with men’s football but nothing highlighting the incredible achievements of its female footballers. Those women represented Manchester and England in a positive manner and won trophies in South America for example before either men’s club represented the city there. They also won a significant European competition before either men’s team yet their achievements are not recognised by the city.

With the women’s Euros being in England (and various sites in Greater Manchester) this year I would love to do talks and other events in Manchester celebrating the Corinthians and Manchester’s other teams. The event at Hebden Bridge was free to attend and was made possible by the support of a locally based business. We felt it was vital we made this free to attend to spread the word.

If anyone runs a key Manchester venue and would like a Corinthians celebration event then please get in touch. The more we can do to promote their story the better.

Thanks for reading this. If you would like to find out more about the Corinthians then follow the tabs on this site or use the search function. If you’d like to know more about the FA Ban then you can download for free an article I’ve recently co-written here:

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

Copies of my book on Manchester City Women are still available. This tells the history of City Women via the voices of the women (and some men) involved. The book has been heralded as a model for oral histories by the Oral History Society.

Here’s a link you can follow to order a signed copy of the City Women book:

Here’s the Oral History Society review:

Watch this space for more on the Corinthians and women’s football over the coming months. Thanks – now use the tabs and search to learn more on women’s football in Manchester. Ta!