Manchester City v Manchester United

It’s another Manchester derby on Friday (12 February 2021) – this one is in the Women’s Super League and kicks off at 7pm. To mark this game I wanted to give a bit of focus to the early history of Manchester derbies in women’s leagues. The history of women’s football in Manchester does not always get the attention it deserves and many of us have been determined to change that for years. So hopefully the following will be of interest. It includes a few quotes from those involved in previous decades…

While the perception will always exist that Manchester United’s women’s team has always been City’s rivals and vice versa, for both clubs the real rivals have varied over the years. Derby matches have been played against Manchester Belle Vue and other prominent local clubs. However, any game between City and United takes on extra significance. United fans established a Manchester United Ladies team in the 1970s with close ties to the men’s club. This eventually was closed down by the men’s club before re-emerging in 2018 as a WSL 2 club. In September 2019 the first WSL Manchester derby between City and United occurred at the Etihad following United’s move into the top flight. This was a truly special day for both clubs and for those of us present.

The first competitive derby between City and United was actually in September 1990 in the North West Women’s Regional Football League Second Division when Neil Mather was City’s manager: “I was nervous for weeks on end, and it was coming and coming and coming. I thought ‘we’ve got to beat United in the first competitive Derby.’ Being a big blue it was like ‘whatever we do we’ve got to beat them.’ We were 4-1 up with about five minutes to go and then had a five minute collapse where I thought we’re going to blow this. At one point it had looked like we were going to get five or six and annihilate them and then we nearly lost it! Thank God we hung on for a 4-3 win, but I’ll never forget that game. We had a girl called Jenny Newton who was a manic City fan and scored and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it. When she scored her eyes were bulging and it meant the world and a lot of our girls were City fans. It meant the world to beat them.”

Lesley Wright: “The first time we played United in a competitive game there was about 150 there. They were a really strong team. Better than us at the time and they’d been established a lot longer.”

Rita Howard: “Despite being a United fan I loved playing as City Ladies against United. I absolutely loved it. Even though I’m a United fan I never contemplated joining them because the support from City, even when it waned a little, was far superior to anything United got. At best they’d get a kit and then it was ‘on your way.’ I know our closeness to City came from that beginning with Neil. His enthusiasm got us the kit, the tracksuits, the minibus…. All sorts of things. I know that wasn’t happening at United and at that time I don’t think any club connected in any way to a Football League side were as close as we were then. I think we got a lot more recognition from the beginning and that has carried on to today. Look at what City have done.”

Jane Morley: “I’m a season ticket holder at Manchester United but I was a manager at City Ladies. One day I’d been with City at a tournament and then went straight to Old Trafford for a men’s game. I was sat there when the bloke next to me – who I didn’t know – said ‘what you doing with that on!’ I realised I still had my City jacket on. I had to explain to him that I managed City Ladies.”

Bev Harrop was a Manchester United fan playing for City: “I had a United shirt underneath my City shirt! (laughs) Most of the time.  Not later on, I grew out of it eventually, but at first, I did.”

Jane Morley: “It angers me when people say that Manchester United now have their first women’s team. As with City when the relaunch happened that implies the stuff we did for the club years before doesn’t count. I played for United in the 70s and 80s before a few of us broke away to set up FC Redstar. We left United because we wanted to test ourselves. We had some great players and wanted to progress but those who ran United wanted to stay in a Manchester League and not join the North West League. So we broke away in 1985 and formed FC Redstar.

“Many of the teams we know today as WSL clubs are actually men’s clubs that have taken over established women’s clubs. Teams like Leasowe Pacific became Everton. I have to bite my lip sometimes when some clubs claim they created a women’s team… no, you took and rebranded a team. There were quite a few big teams around the time City Ladies started such as Broadoak with Tracey Wheeldon.” 

These snippets are from my book on Manchester City’s women’s team. Copies (signed by me) can be ordered here: https://gjfootballarchive.com/shop/

If you’d like to read more on women’s football in Manchester then take a look at: https://gjfootballarchive.com/category/womens-football-2/

Subscribe to get access

If you would like to read all the in-depth articles on this site (including the entire Manchester A Football History book) then please subscribe. It works out about £1.67 a month if you take out an annual subscription (£20 per year) or £3 a month if you’d like to sign up for a month at a time. Each subscriber gets full access to the 500+ articles posted so far and the hundreds scheduled to be posted in the coming weeks.

Ellie Roebuck signs new three – year deal with Manchester City

City goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck has signed a new three year contract, committing herself to the Blues until the summer of 2024.

The 21 year old moved to the Academy Stadium in 2015 as a teenager, having previously been on the books at Sheffield United’s Centre of Excellence, and has already lifted a number of trophies with City.

The England international also scooped the inaugural Barclays FA Women’s Super League Golden Glove award in 2019/20 with ten clean sheets.

The 21 year old has become a key figure for City in recent seasons, figuring prominently throughout the 2019/20 campaign. Joining City in 2015 as a 15 year old, the shot stopper signed her first professional contract with the Blues in January 2018 having made her professional debut as a substitute against Birmingham City two years earlier.

Playing her part as the team won both the FA Continental Tyres League Cup and Women’s FA Cup in 2018/19, the 2019/20 campaign saw the young keeper make her mark as she conceded just nine league goals in 16 games and kept ten clean sheets in the process.

Roebuck also impressed as City retained the Women’s FA Cup in November 20 20 following the continuation of the competition from the previous season. Internationally, she has represented England on five occasions at senior level so far – making her senior debut against Austria in late 2018 – and was a training player in the Lionesses’ 2019 Women’s World Cup squad . One of the game’s most exciting young players, Roebuck has now signed a three – year deal that will see her remain at the Academy Stadium until the summer of 2024.

Speaking about her contract extension, Roebuck said: “I’m delighted to have signed a new deal. It’s really exciting to know that my future lies at City for the next three years – my time here so far has flown by and I can’t wait for what is to come.​

“Signing a three – year deal too is something that’s a massive boost – the Club have shown their faith in me, which is amazing. “City is th e place I want to be – it’s where I see myself developing as a player, so I’m very happy to have it all sorted.”

Manchester City Women: An Oral History (the history of City’s women’s team) is available here:

https://gjfootballarchive.com/shop/

Establishing women in sports history: Manchester City Football Club

ABSTRACT

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

If you would like to read the full article and other pieces like this then please subscribe below. It works out about £1.67 a month if you take out an annual subscription (£20 per year) or £3 a month if you’d like to sign up for a month at a time. Each subscriber gets full access to the 100+ articles posted so far and the hundreds scheduled to be posted in the coming weeks.

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

The Italian Job: A Manchester Corinthian’s Journey

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

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

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