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!

New Article: ‘The game of football is quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged’

Together with Fiona Skillen, Helena Byrne and John Carrier I have co-authored an article on women’s football and the impact of the 1921 #FABan. The reason we wrote this academic article was to highlight that too often we assume that what happened in England is what happened across Great Britain and Ireland. It isn’t and in this piece you can read an overview of each nation and what occurred. The article is open access/free to read here:

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

I hope you enjoy that. We do see this article as a means of highlighting the differences and we see this as a call for more detailed research, properly triangulated, to ensure we uncover the true development of women’s football across England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland. No book has yet been published that comes anywhere close to telling the development of women’s football across each of these nations with some making assumptions that are simply not valid across each nation. Our article cannot cover everything but I hope it gives a taster for the topic.

Special thanks to Glasgow Caledonian University for making this open access. It really is appreciated.

It is worth reading the piece (well, it’s free so you may as well have a look!) to see what happened in your part of the UK and Ireland. For those with a Greater Manchester interest you’ll see mention of Manchester United, Bolton Wanderers, Manchester Corinthians and Manchester Ladies. Some interesting stuff on crowds. Also, if you’re a fan of Stoke City, Manchester City, Manchester United, Oldham Athletic or Everton you can see what happened to their former player Jimmy Broad when he tried to train a women’s football team in the 1950s!

I have written other academic articles on women’s football but these tend to be behind a publisher’s paywall. If you have access via a library or university here’s one that may be of interest:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17460263.2020.1818613

While I’m talking about academic articles, one of my earlier articles on Manchester football is still free to read/download here:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17460263.2013.873075

Manchester City’s Women’s Team – The Relaunch

On this day (24 January) in 2014 Manchester City Ladies (founded in 1988) was relaunched as Manchester City Women. To mark this anniversary the following ‘long read’ article is an excerpt from Manchester City Women: An Oral History (my book published late in 2019 telling the story of the club).

You can buy copies of the book signed by me here: https://gjfootballarchive.com/shop/

Here’s the excerpt from the book on the club’s relaunch in 2014:

Despite initially being formed as part of Manchester City’s corporate structure in 1988 the women’s team became its own entity affiliated to the parent club by the end of the 1990s. It had its own committees and structure but progression up the leagues had resulted in a need to re-establish closer ties. By the early 2010s it became clear a formal coming together was needed. This surprised some of the players and staff from the 1980s and 1990s, especially when articles appeared claiming the club had been established in 2002. Jane Morley: “It upset Lesley (Wright) that the full history had been ignored. There were stories that the club had been founded by a group of City fans and it came across that it was fairly insignificant. But that wasn’t true. These were women who wanted to play football. Some were City fans but Rita Howard wasn’t, Bev Harrop was a United season ticket holder – So was I. I went to United games with Bev.”

Louise Wakefield: “I felt a bit like we’d been forgot and I thought ‘is it just me?’ but apparently a few of us were feeling left out. We’d done everything for the club. You know, turned up, swollen ankles, and had to play, you know? We felt a bit left out with it.”

Michelle Middleton felt: “aggrieved that the media seemed to think that City had suddenly decided to have a women’s team and didn’t take the time to look into the history but I was happy that the club was still backing the women and were planning to make them as important a part of the club as the men.”

Michelle had played at the formation of the club, with Lesley arriving that same season. Lesley stayed until 2002, with Louise joining the club in 1996, but it wasn’t only players that had been involved before the 2002 date that felt aggrieved at times. Gary Moores: “The waters got muddied around this time and I think some people got a bit upset. I understood fully that what went on in the past is in the past and that it had nothing to do with the relaunched club. I know that upset a few people because some were still tying up the back end of Manchester City Ladies. Since the transfer of the club, I haven’t been to games because it took so much time out of my life. I reached the point where I felt ‘it’s in safe hands now’ and I felt that our part of the transition had been handled well and so I felt I could move away. Previously it had been like the guy spinning the plates… you couldn’t stop because the plates would come crashing down but once City were handed control someone else was able to spin the plates and I could move on.

“I didn’t pay much attention to those who suggested City were a new club because half of it was from people who had only just learned about women’s football because of the birth of the Super League. They were speaking about something that they didn’t actually know much about. They’d dipped into it occasionally. Also, there was the negativity because of the position of Doncaster Belles. That was a shame because we know what Doncaster Belles have done but then there’s these people who see the money that Manchester City as an overall club was supposed to have and then it’s suggested that City had used that money to buy their place but they hadn’t. It was built on the back of years of commitment by players and volunteers. That first season after there were about half a dozen players who had been with us for years. 

“I remember being on holiday about two years after the WSL place was given and there was a woman who was a big City Women fan there. We got chatting and I told her of my connection but she didn’t believe me. She got her laptop out and started to quiz me. ‘Okay, where did Krystal Johnson come from?’ I said ‘Manchester City Ladies’ and she said that she’d played for one of the Sheffield clubs not City but that was the season when there was the transition from winter to summer football and the club had no games. The players went off to play for other clubs to keep fit but even on City’s own website the previous club line gave the impression these had all arrived from other clubs. All of that added to this view that it was a new club. There were about six or seven players like this I think.”

Inevitably there were going to be issues to resolve as the transition took place. As with the period in 2002 when some long established players and committee members felt the club was being taken from them, some of the committee and players felt similar feelings. Transformations are always difficult but with the media choosing to promote the view that ‘new club’ City were in the process of obtaining a WSL place at the expense of Doncaster Belles, it was always going to be tough to satisfy all former players and committee members. The noise, particularly in the media, did not overshadow what was actually happening however. Many current and former players were delighted with the potential for a stronger relationship.  Rowena Foxwell: I think got a bit excited when City Ladies became more professional and then they changed the name to Women. I think because women’s football was on the telly more, and it was great that our Club was getting a professional team. We all thought ‘if we were 20 years younger, we could have played in that’.  So we got a bit giddy about it.”

Rowena had seen some of the incorrect details of the club’s birth and decided to be proactive: “I was clicking through and there was this piece on how City Ladies started in 2002 or whatever it was! So I emailed Vicky Kloss, the Head of Communication at City, and just said to her that I was part of the original team… still in touch with a lot of them… be great if we could get involved… do you know that some of the facts on there are wrong? I think the fact that we got angry about the fact that they’d got it wrong, just shows how passionate we were.”

Debbie Darbyshire:  Vicky Kloss wanted it right. Vicky’s good like that. She’s always keen to make sure things are right. She called [Gary James] in and started the process of getting it all right.”

Rowena’s email was passed on to City’s Damaris Treasure, then Head of Public Affairs. She was heavily involved with the relaunch and wanted to get the facts correct. She immediately contacted Rowena and pushed to ensure the history of the team was properly recorded and that those involved felt valued for what they had achieved. Rowena Foxwell: “Many of us were invited to the relaunch. We obviously rocked up to the Etihad. There were a few people that we hadn’t seen probably since we played. So you know that was nice, and it was nice that the City acknowledged us as the original team.”

Damaris Treasure: I started working with Don Dransfield on the then City Ladies when we announced the formalisation of the relationship with the Club in 2012. I was then part of the core team who bid for the WSL license, and  led the re-launch as City Women in 2014. The day of the re-launch as Manchester City Women will forever be a highlight for me. Thinking back on all that day and all the people in the room – the original City Ladies squad, the new City Women squad, more media than we thought possible, legends of the men’s game (Patrick Vieira, Claudio Reyna), City leadership – it’s actually quite incredible that all those people came together. But it’s also indicative of just how right that moment was and how ready people were to invest in it.”

Jane Boardman: “I think you know the club went some way to recognise that this was a relaunch and not a launch, which I think was very important. A number of us got invited to the relaunch event.  I think it’s important that the club continues to stay community-focused and I think that they do achieve that.”

Heidi Ward: “I think I was really pleased that the relaunch got the press coverage that it did, because it lifted the women’s game. I knew that City were going to put money in to it and they were going to make the facilities and whatever. They are now absolutely brilliant. They wanted to give women the same opportunity as men and that’s just absolutely amazing. To be fair, I didn’t think it would get to the level where it is now, so that’s incredible really. If you look at the players now, they all look like athletes. They are all similar shapes and sizes and they are all really fit and healthy. Look at Steph Houghton – her physique has  changed and she’s a complete athlete now.  And the skills and the level of football has just raised in the last few years as well.

“I’m used to watching men’s football and I’ve never wanted to compare it to men’s football because it felt like a different game. I think there was a bit of a gap and now, at the highest level, I don’t see that. There’s different skills and there’s different strengths, but what City have done has changed things. I think it’s amazing.”

Kate Themen was delighted that City were investing but was unhappy with the media focus on the fate of Doncaster Belles: “I thought the FA could have handled it much better.  I think that was a structural issue, because it was a shame that Doncaster had lost their place, but when the FA sets up a league structure, which is essentially a franchise structure then these things happen. It wasn’t City’s issue it was the FA’s for having a structure whereby it allowed teams to do that.”

Lesley Wright: “I remember Rowena Foxwell asking if we were going to the relaunch. It was very nice and it was great to be invited. I think most of us that went to the relaunch were City fans as well as players so it meant more in some ways. Manuel Pellegrini was there. I think it was good how it was done because it showed that City were taking it seriously. It was a major step forward. It wasn’t just about using the money that Sheikh Mansour provided. It was the same as with the men. They invested in the club. They took the core of the England women’s team and they’ve brought in others. The whole point of the WSL was to create a platform to develop English talent and so I’m pleased that City have focused on bringing in and developing English players. Along the way they’ve brought in people like Carli Lloyd to help of course, but they’re developing talent the right way. It costs a lot of money and it can be difficult to sustain that but, like the men, they know what they want and they’re developing the club to achieve that. Opening the Academy and creating that ground takes it to a different level again.”

Damaris: “It was a really interesting time when we re-launched City Women, because there were teams that had been doing great things for a long time, Arsenal being the most notably successful, but we had a strong sense, which is generally how we do things anyway, of doing things well and doing things right by the highest possible standards. So, in some ways we treated this as a blank slate. Also, the way that we generally work at City is that we are all responsible for both the men’s and the women’s teams. Everyone working on City Women at that time was working in Premier League football as well as with the WSL, so there was a great range of experience being shared between the teams.   

Neil Mather: “I was chuffed to bits as I still am and I still get a huge buzz going to watch them.  It was always my dream that there would be a women’s professional league and that they’d get the opportunities that the men got.”

Louise Wakefield: “I’m really pleased and I’m really pleased because of where we’ve come from, you know? I hope people understand that rags to riches story. The Arsenals have always had that structure but I think the rags to riches story that City have had over all those years is remarkable. The media should push that. There could be documentaries on it. I was about two seasons away from the change. I wasn’t far away at all. If it wasn’t for an incident I had at a turning point where I was starting to progress, I’d have been in that era. I’d have been in every progression from 1996, apart from the current first team. If you’ve got that money behind you and you’ve got that training and you go training every day… and you’re not playing on pitches that are up to here, you’re going to progress. If I was 17 playing now I’d have been a lot better player.”

Lindsay Savage was delighted when the relaunch occurred: “Brilliant, City is such a big club and it is great to see them challenging for everything.  They are really inspiring young girls to follow their dream and are fantastic role models.” 

Rita Howard: “I was happy with the relaunch…No, I was jealous. Definitely jealous that this has happened and that I have missed out because of time. But very happy for women now and for girls coming through. They’ve now got something to aspire to. It absolutely heartens me when I see girls coming here to my school who are already in teams and it’s a given that they are going to continue to play. When I first started teaching here I was like a frontrunner of the girls football. We might have a good five-a-side team but struggle beyond that. Since then we have had a team that won a tournament.”

The need for football lower down the pyramid to receive investment is there. Jane Morley, who is still involved in promoting the sport to young girls in the regions, hopes the wider public begin supporting community clubs financially: “It is important to remember that as great as it is what’s happened to City and the other clubs in the WSL for most women’s teams it is still as it has always been. You rent a grass pitch, a referee turns up, the opposition arrive and you play a game. The pitches vary, the conditions can be poor… it’s not changed. You can still find games that have no dressing rooms…. Changing in cars and so on. I still think the women’s game has to fit in with the men’s game. Playing at 2pm on a Sunday to fit in with men’s games in the morning.”

It will take some time for benefits at the highest level to trickle down the leagues but football as played in female competition is in a much better place now than it was only a few years ago. City remain determined to see football as football, without a differentiation. Damaris Treasure: “Bringing City Women in to Manchester City formally was only the beginning of City’s relationship with women’s football. I now work for City Football Group based in Australia, and the blueprint created in Manchester was replicated with our team in Melbourne (who have since gone on to win pretty much everything going). In the same way as Manchester, the women’s team are fully integrated with the men’s team, train at the same facilities, and have been credited with raising the bar for women’s football in Australia. We’ve got a girls academy at New York City FC, and long term we would love to see more women’s teams as part of CFG.  

You can buy my history of the Manchester City Women’s team here:

https://gjfootballarchive.com/shop/

If you’ve enjoyed this then why not check out the earliest footage of Manchester City Ladies:

https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/01/22/manchester-city-ladies-the-earliest-film/

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Manchester City Ladies – The Earliest Film

On this day in 1989 Manchester City Ladies (now Manchester City Women) played their third friendly after formation in 1988. Here for subscribers to my blog is exclusive film of the women lining up for their team photo at Burnley. This is the earliest known surviving footage of the team.

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#FABan – No Man Could Stop Us!

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:

https://gjfootballarchive.com/category/womens-football-2/page/2/

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

December 5 2021 marks the centenary 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.

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#FA Ban – Tonight’s Show

I’m really looking forward to tonight’s ‘No Man Could Stop Us!’ show at Hebden Bridge Town Hall. If you are coming then feel free to use the hashtag #FABan when mentioning it on social media. We have some excellent guests and I’ll be highlighting the history of women’s football from the nineteenth century through to the 1921 FA ban. I’ll then explain what happened to the sport over the following 50 years, until it was officially lifted in January 1970. We’ll be hearing from players who had lengthy careers with Manchester Corinthians, Manchester City, Manchester United, Redstar, Bronte, Doncaster Belles and England. It promises to be an excellent night.

Late next week I’ll post an article here on the evening’s events for those unable to make it. The evening has been sponsored by Geoff Matthews and his company Cansquared – thank you for all your support and enthusiasm.