Record Greater Manchester Club Attendance

I’m delighted to say that I was at the Etihad Stadium today when a record crowd for a women’s club game in Greater Manchester was set when 44,259 watched City draw 1-1 with United. This includes all home games by Greater Manchester’s clubs; WFA Cup finals played in the area and games played by Dick, Kerr Ladies and other prominent women’s clubs over the last 140 years or so. For those wondering the top four highest club attendances are:

  • 44,259 City v United, Etihad, December 2022
  • 31,213 City V United, Etihad, September 2019
  • 31,000 (occasionally reported as 35,000) Dick, Kerr Ladies v Bath Ladies, Old Trafford, January 1921
  • 30,196 United V Aston Villa, Old Trafford, December 2022

You can read about the first competitive women’s Manchester Derby, which occurred in 1990, here:

The 1st and Latest Women’s Manchester Derby in the League

Tomorrow is the latest Manchester derby in the Women’s Super League. There’s a long history of competition between teams representing the women of Manchester City and Manchester United. City’s team has been in existence continually since November 1988 when Donna Haynes and Heidi Ward both scored two goals in their first game (v Oldham Athletic at Boundary Park).

I was at the City Ladies (as they were then known) first game and I was also at their first league derby in September 1990 when City defeated United 4-3. It was a fantastic day, watched by around 150 people.

City’s goals came from Rhoda Taylor (8 min), Rachel O’Shaughnessy (43 mins), Jenny Newton (50 mins) and Lesley Peters. City’s manager Neil Mather told me as part of my research for the Manchester City Women book: ‘United were the top side, you know, and beating them was so good for morale. The men’s team were a good side in the early 90s when City Ladies carried on developing, you know. This was the Howard Kendall era, and City had top five finishes. City were one of the top five or six teams in the country at the time, so it was fabulous for women’s football to have Man City, you know.’

Helen Hempenstall played for City that day and she described her memory of the day for my book: I remember when we played United (30/9/90) and Neil (Helen’s boyfriend, now husband) and all his mates came to watch us. There were a lot of people there that day. United had a decent team then. It was always a difficult game against United. They had a right-winger… We never got on. Every time we played each other we were at each other all the way through the game. Me and Carol Woodall were having a go at her. The referee told Lesley Wright “Tell both your full backs to shut their mouths otherwise they’ll both be off!” We just didn’t get along and before every game I thought I’ll get in their first. ‘I’m having her.’ Neil Mather still talks about it.

‘I think Lesley Wright kept the team together. She kept it all tight at the back. I played at the back with her and I learnt a lot from her. Because I was next to her I knew how important she was. If I missed something she always got it. She always encouraged me and kept shouting ‘different class, different class’. You learn from the people around you and I listened to her. Before every game she came to speak to me. She’d put her arm around me and reassure me. She’d tell me not to worry about anything. Most of the time travelling to away games I’d go with Lesley in the car. We used to have a laugh. I remember one day we were travelling to an away game some distance away and we stopped for petrol and all got out. I lit up a fag and everyone else jumped back in the car screaming! I didn’t even think! When we got to the ground they all told Neil Mather and I think he worried that he could’ve lost half his team. At another game I was sat in the middle and as we got out the person before me slammed the door back. It hit my head and I had a big lump for the game.’

The story of that game and of the first 30 years or so of City Women’s existence can be read in my book on the club. It’s called Manchester City Women: An Oral History and is basically the women telling their stories of playing for the club and how they got into football, plus statistics covering the journey from friendlies in 1988-89 through to competition and the modern day successes.

You can buy the book via this link (every copy is signed by me):

Manchester City and Women’s Football Before and During the FA Ban

December 5 each year marks the anniversary of a FA decision that was to have an impact for decades, many would argue that the effects of it are still being felt today. On December 5 1921 the FA leaders decided to ban women’s football from FA affiliated grounds. This ban was to remain in place for almost fifty years and stifled the development of the women’s game. Here’s a feature on the connections between Manchester City and the women who played before and during the ban.

This is available to subscribers to my website.

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Alternative Sites of Sports History – Free Download October 2022

Recently an academic article of mine offering advice and examples to those researching sports history or working within the industry was published. Normally, it is behind an academic paywall but you can download it for free during October here (it’s free, you may as well have a look):

The article has received publicity in publications/websites of football clubs including Middlesbrough and Manchester City. Here’s what City have said:

Rare Film of Manchester Women’s Football

Will McTaggart, who hosted a number of football film shows with me in the years before Covid, has alerted me to a new clip that’s been found by the BBC of the Manchester Corinthians women’s team of the 1960s. The Corinthians played from 1949 until the late 1980s (see elsewhere on this site for their story) and this clip is from March 1965. You can watch it here:

I’ve been researching and writing about the Manchester Corinthians and women’s football for many years (in fact my first book published in 1989 included material on the first games of Manchester City’s women’s team and I attended their matches back then). I’m currently working with the Corinthians and others to erect permanent tributes to them at Fog Lane Park which can be seen in this film.

British Society Of Sports History 40th Anniversary

The British Society of Sports History (BSSH) is a tremendous body of academics and historians who research, promote and progress the role of history within sport. I have been a member for many years and recently, to celebrate their 40th anniversary, I was asked to write an article offering advice, ideas & more to those researching sport history. The article has recently been published and can be downloaded here for free (follow the link below):

In the article I talk of the great work being done by several historians, including Tosh Warwick and Tony Collins, and sports clubs. I talk about research into women’s football at Manchester City and the club’s badge redesign project.

It will only be free to download for the month of October, so get it while you can. Thanks to the BSSH for giving me this opportunity.

You can find out more about the BSSH and what they do here:

Women’s Football Interviews and Videos

If you’re interested in women’s football or in football in Trafford or Manchester here are some video interviews we did as part of the work on the #WEuro2022 Heritage Lottery funded project for Trafford. These interviews are with women who played for Manchester Corinthians, Manchester City, Manchester United, FC Redstar, & Macclesfield:

We start with Jan Lyons:

Now Gail Robertson:

Next Lesley Wright:

Finally, Jane Morley:

Here’s an interesting clip of the Corinthians playing in 1960:

Margaret Shepherd and Margaret Whitworth were also filmed as part of the wider project (they were interviewed by Wigan & Leigh). Here they are:

Margaret Whitworth actually appears on this BBC clip from 1960 playing:

Also, here’s my talk explaining about the history of women’s football:

This talk on the history of women’s football was staged at the National Football Museum on 1st July as part of my work on a consultancy basis with Trafford local archives. The talk lasts about 47 mins. Enjoy!

There will be a video of the panel discussion mentioned in this talk that will appear as a part 2 later. Maybe next week?

The Trafford Archive website I mention during my talk is available here:

Video of History Of Women’s Football Talk

If you’re interested in women’s football or in football in Trafford or Manchester then get your self a brew, settle down and enjoy this video of my talk before the big England-Northern Ireland match tonight. It’s part of my work on the #WEuro2022 Heritage Lottery funded project. Here goes:

This talk on the history of women’s football was staged at the National Football Museum on 1st July as part of my work on a consultancy basis with Trafford local archives. The talk lasts about 47 mins. Enjoy!

There will be a video of the panel discussion mentioned in this talk that will appear as a part 2 later. Maybe next week?

The Trafford Archive website I mention during my talk is available here:


The Women’s Euros start tomorrow with the opening match at Old Trafford between England and Austria. There are lots of great activities planned to coincide with the Euros and I’d like to take the opportunity to talk a little about some of what’s occurred as part of the Trafford element of the Heritage Lottery Funded project. Even if you’re not particularly interested in Trafford it’d be worth having a look at this to get a feel for how the project has gone and how you may be able to help track down former players, teams & more.

I’ve been working on a temporary basis with Trafford to capture the stories of women, teams & more, while also staging a few events and researching the history of women’s football within Trafford. My time with the project will end soon but it has been a great experience. So far we’ve managed to interview women who have been playing football either for Trafford based clubs or women who are from Trafford who have played for teams outside the borough. There have also been interviews with women who played significant games in Trafford.

A website has been set up to tell the stories and so far we’ve posted a few of those covering teams, games & players. There are further stories to be posted over the coming weeks but take a look here at the ones posted so far:

Audio interviews have been performed with a variety of former players of teams such as Sale United, Trafford Ladies, Manchester Corinthians, Manchester United, Manchester City, FC Redstar, England and the Merseyside club Leasowe Pacific who won the FA Cup in 1989 at Old Trafford.

We also held a session where young girls from Sale United met with former Corinthians, City & United players to talk about their careers and compare experiences.

Last Friday we staged a talk at the National Football Museum on the History of Women’s Football with particular emphasis on the experiences and landmark moments of Trafford & Manchester’s women footballers. Jan Lyons of Manchester Corinthians & Juventus and Lesley Wright of Manchester Corinthians & Manchester City participated in a panel discussion too with some great questions from the audience.

Photo by Rachel Adams for the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 Arts and Heritage programme

An exhibition, including objects such as a 1958 Manchester Corinthians shirt and boots signed by Steph Houghton, is currently being staged at the archives centre at Sale.

Displays around Old Trafford have also been set up with the national history of women’s football appearing alongside Trafford bespoke monoliths close to Hotel Football and the Old Trafford Stadium. If you’re at the game go and have a look.

Photo by Rachel Adams for the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 Arts and Heritage programme

There are also postboxes decorated with knitted women footballers that have been produced by the local knitting groups as part of the project. If you’re wandering around Trafford have a look for them.

On Wednesday I will be with the Trafford Archives staff at the fanzone at Old Trafford during the day where we will be distributing free postcards and a Trafford football history booklet. We’ll also be answering questions about the history of football in the region and I’ll be hoping to capture the memories of those who played for women’s teams in Trafford too. Come and say hello if you’re there during the day time.

Also, look out for the FSA free Euros guide. I’ve contributed material on Trafford’s history so please look out for that.

Finally, I’m still keen to capture the stories of women’s football in Trafford. If you are from Trafford, or played for a Trafford based club then get in touch and let’s ensure your story is captured for future generations.

Manchester Corinthians Appeal

Press Release: Appeal launched to recognise the pioneering Manchester Corinthians women’s team

• Appeal launched to create permanent tributes to the pioneering Manchester Corinthian Ladies Football Club at Fog Lane Park, Didsbury

• The Corinthians and their sister club Manchester Nomads toured the globe promoting football, Manchester and female endeavour 

• The club was established in January 1949 and was a key part of Manchester’s sporting life for around 40 years

• Established at Fog Lane, the club was based there for the first 25 years of its existence

• The appeal aims to erect a plaque, a lectern-style display and create a mural by a local artist in Fog Lane Park

The first ever appeal by the Friends of Fog Lane Park has been launched in partnership with Manchester City Council, MCRActive and supporters, players and researchers of the awe-inspiring Manchester Corinthians, and their sister club, the Nomads. The aim is to establish permanent visual tributes to the Corinthians and Nomads. The Friends are seeking to raise £10,000 and deliver in stages significant tributes to these remarkable women who played and promoted football at a time when a FA ban was in place.

The main aims are to:

– install a plaque at Fog Lane Park highlighting the achievements of the club and stage a celebratory unveiling with former players

– erect a lectern-style information display, close to the actual pitch the women utilised, detailing the Corinthians’ achievements over the decades with the aim of inspiring young girls and others with their story

– Recruit a local artist to paint a specially commissioned Manchester Corinthians mural on an appropriate building within the park

The appeal aims to deliver each of these objectives in stages as funds allow. 

Football historian Dr Gary James has been researching the story of the Manchester Corinthians for several years and explains: ‘Both the Corinthians and the Nomads have been significant Manchester teams over many decades. They gave opportunities for women to play football at a time when the FA stubbornly claimed the sport was unsuitable for them. They toured the world demonstrating all that was good about Manchester, football and female endeavour, winning major competitions and raising a lot of money for charity.

‘Manchester is known as a footballing city and we have been blessed with some incredible successes over the decades, but our major contribution to the history of women’s football from the 1940s has not been given the recognition it deserves. There are statues, plaques and other tributes to men’s football across Greater Manchester yet there’s nothing permanent on the women of Manchester Corinthians. It’s time we rectified that.’

The Corinthians raised a considerable amount for charity over their existence and now it’s time to raise funds to thank them for their efforts by erecting permanent tributes. 

How to contribute to the appeal: Contributions can be made via this link:

About Manchester Corinthians and Manchester Nomads 

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 1957 Bert Trautmann, the Manchester City men’s goalkeeper joined them on a tour of Germany, acting as an ambassador for the club. 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. 

In 1960 the Corinthians ventured outside of Europe for a tour of South America where they won a major international tournament and played in front of significant crowds, including one reported as 60,000. Margaret Whitworth 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. Margaret: “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. Ashley wanted the Corinthians and Nomads to promote all that was positive about female participation in football and they certainly achieved that over the decades. They won a host of tournaments and trophies over the years and in 1970 defeated Juventus in the final of a competition in France.

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 the 1980s 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 Corinthian players from the 1970s and 1980s 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 Corinthians were true pioneers, promoting the sport globally at a time when many refused to accept that women could play football. 

About the Friends of Fog Lane Park

The Friends of Fog Lane Park are a volunteer friends group who work to improve Fog Lane Park for all, they have worked well with Manchester City Council and other bodies to repurpose a disused building in the park, creating a cafe space and providing much needed bathroom facilities, running community events, and looking after the park’s green spaces with volunteers looking after all the planted beds within the park. They have great links through the local park community and were close to losing this important history to both the park and women’s football.