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: 

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/friends-offoglanepark-Corinthians

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.

 

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