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:
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 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 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.