A hundred years ago, squads of women were playing in front of huge crowds and inducing big bucks. Then the Football Association banned them from its fields. Here’s the story of the autumn and rise of women’s football, told through 10 objectives collected by the National Football Museum.
“Complaints having been made as to football being played by wives, the[ FA] assembly feel impelled to express their strong opinion that video games of football is quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged. Ailments have also been made as to the conditions under which some of these competitions have been arranged and played, and the approved appropriations of acknowledgments to other than charitable objects.”
With these paroles in 1921, the FA decided to ban the playing of women’s football in F-Amember dirts, which asphyxiated the game as a successful business as the stricture remained in place for 50 years. In non-eu countries there were outright disallows on females playing.
Jean Williams, the University of Wolverhampton’s professor of play, takes us through components which prove the business record and strives of the women’s game.
1. 1895 Sketch magazine print of Nettie Honeyball ‘in her football costume’
“In 1863 we get the formation of the Football Association and of the modern recreation. The first women’s football match that we know about are in 1881, and they are professional tournaments played to large-scale audiences and they make money. It seems they are organised by neighbourhood tycoons. The 1881 -8 2 recreations are relatively short lived.
“Nettie Honeyball is the secretary and chieftain of the first British Ladies Football Club, which was founded in 1894. She was a middle class woman, and they had a non-playing chairwoman Lady Florence Dixie, who was upper class.
“In historic words this was the first time women organised football for women. The first activity was in Crouch End in 1895 before 10,000 beings, which must have generated healthy acknowledgments. Hundreds of recreations be used in the next few years and the women’s recreation is played all over Britain.”
2. Wheaties cereal box from the 1990 s featuring US player Michelle Akers
“In the 1991 women’s macrocosm championship she was the win of the golden boot. She was the first real international women’s football whiz and was massive in the US. She paved the path for Mia Hamm and Hope Solo, but interestingly one of the things that constricted her potential success was that she suffered from chronic wearines ailment. But for that, her international profile “couldve been” much more.
“The narrative of the Wheaties box is that she has had objections to overcome but is still achieving and can’t be held back. This is all referred to on the packaging of the cereal, which the manufacturers announce ‘The Breakfast of Champions’.
“It is one of the first commercial-grade blurbs of this type in the 1990 s, at a time when Fifa ultimately ended they were going to actively oversee women’s football, having taken over its stewardship in 1971 but not doing much to promote it in the intervening years.”
3. Programs from 1950 s women’s football matches
“The crux of the FA’s ban is that it does not ban women’s football outright, but stops it being played on member clubs’ grounds. Before the prohibition women’s football is an entertainment sight, and if you play it in enclosed stadiums you are able to attack parties money to come in and watch.
“Once the ban comes in women’s football goes to other venues: to rugby league and cricket sand, as well as other venues. These curricula establish recreations being played at Belle Vue speedway stadium, Manchester, and at a general sports stadium on the Isle of Man.
“But the FA employs influence on other plays not to host women’s competitions, which destroys the business simulate of the women’s play. And that affords raise to the story that women’s football has never been an entertaining commercial-grade spectacle. The game is still finding its style back from the ban.”
4. Christie and Barbie football dolls
“These dolls were released for sale before the 1999 Women’s World Cup by toymaker Mattel. The goalkeeper of that squad was Briana Scurry.”[ The first woman goalkeeper and first black dame to be elected to the US National Soccer Hall of Fame .]
“But more generally, it reflects[ the facts of the case] that the American “consumers ” was sensitive and aware of questions of ethnicity and hasten. The market of the dolls was as diverse and all-inclusive as it could be.
“There was plainly already an demonstrated business all over the Barbie and Christie brands, but such was the growing selling ability of women’s football that a leading manufacturer thought it could cash in farther around the 1999 World Cup.”
5. Shirt from Eniola Aluko’s debut, England v Netherlands, 2004
“The business significance is that major manufacturer Umbro made the shirt. Historically, sporting brands had not been able to made consumer markets in women’s football replica wear in the same way that they have done in other plays, specially the high-fashion ones of tennis and golf.
“It is exclusively relatively recently that that boasting brands have exhausted football shirts cut for women, or boots specifically drew for female paws. Nonetheless, while these other aspects of women’s football shirts have progressed, what is interesting is that often the shirt sponsors within the game are not of such ‘high brand value’ as the men’s game.
“There is a real opportunity out there for labels such as cosmetics firms to sponsor women’s football teams, but you get firebrands like Nivea preferring to partner with the Liverpool men’s football team.”
6. A ticket from the 1991 Women’s World Championship with sponsor
“This ticket, being sponsored by M& Ms, shows that a major US confectionery brand was applying women’s football to try and crack its full potential brand-new business sell of China. The tournament was played for the M& Ms Cup. Meanwhile, China wanted to establish a business relationship with the West.
“There were seven the list of sponsors of this first official women’s global tournament in 1991, which Fifa interestingly, and tentatively, called a ‘world championship’ and not a World cup finals. Fifa wanted to get into China and China wanted to join the world football pedigree, so to test the waters this low-financial-risk episode was drawn up.
“The event was a boasting success and also a successful media make, it was sold to Tv firms around the world, and it presented full stadium for the women’s game.”
7. Ball and boots of the type worn by 1920 s/ 30 s stellar Lily Parr
“Lily Parr was the sun of the Dick, Kerr Ladies football team of Preston. She began playing for the team at 14, and played for them for 20 years. There are many reports of Lily receiving ‘broken time payments’, that is, financial compensation for amateur actors for period they had had to taken away from from the working day jobs. These girls players were harbours, munitions craftsmen, and so on.
“These fees, with her earnings from wet-nurse, enabled her to grow the first person in her family to own their own dwelling. Obviously everything there is relates to the ban of 1921 as the FA decides too much of the charitable funds from women’s accords are being used for player expenditures. They were meant to be amateurs but the financial arrangements could be described as at best opaque.
“The boots and ball are from her period. She was a left winger, then moved back into explanation and dissolved her profession in goal.”
8. Poster for an unofficial Women’s World Cup in 1970
“There were two unofficial Women’s World Cups held in the early 1970 s: one in Italy in 1970 and one in Mexico a year later, both backed by neighbourhood business sakes and played in major football stadia.
“In Mexico the incident emphatically seemed to piggyback the men’s World cup finals held under the two countries the previous year. That would explain the commercialisation of the women’s phenomenon there, which was considerable, with key hoops, badges, programmes and other consumables created, and a lot of coverage in the local press. The final was played in the Azteca Stadium in front of 110,000.
“The Italian affair was be supported by Italian multinational boozes firebrand Martini& Rossi, and its final been established in the Turin’s Stadio Communale in front of 40,000. “[ Denmark overcame the legion societies in both finals ].
9. Postcard of Dick, Kerr Ladies FC( 1920 s)
“Dick, Kerr wanted to be known as the best in the world, but too wanted to plug into the success of the local men’s squad and the civic notion of Proud Preston. They had a regular paying public who supported them financially at weekends but too at pioneering floodlit matches.
“Most of the crowds at their recreations are neighbourhood working-class soldiers. When we think we are being progressive next following women’s football, it was these men who were coming out to support the team week in, week out.
“This commercially-produced postcard was demonstrated by ‘ambient marketing’, typical to seeing how the team’s prestige spread beyond their residence city to a much wider audience. Newsreel movies and periodical sections will likewise have spread their epithet further afield.”
10. Art deco statuette of a female footballer
“Because women’s football has always been topical, representing modernity, assertive girl physicality, and – in its early days – played solely to raise large sums of coin, its broader illustration has always been culturally significant.
“So artefacts, collectables, disposable pieces, ephemera, have been created around the game over the decades. This statuette is an example of a stylised girl football actor that somebody would have had in their home. It is 1920 s in appearance.
“There were a lot of similar modelings made around women’s boxing and sportings; beautified artistry deco creations.”
Professor Williams has organised Upfront and Onside: The Women’s Football Conference, about its own history and heritage of women’s football to be held at the National Football Museum in Manchester on International Women’s Day, 8 March, and the following day.