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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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:


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.

#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:

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!

#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.

No Man Could Stop Us!

On Friday 3 I’ll be talking about the FA ban on women playing on FA affiliated grounds. It will be the centenary of the ban on December 5 2021 and ill be talking with women who played during the ban in the 50s and 60s and others who played in the 70s onwards. Incredibly the FA ban wasn’t lifted until 1970 and even then the FA did nothing to promote female participation. Details of the talk below (follow the link):

Thanks to CanSquared for sponsoring the event and enabling us to do this for free.