A hundred years ago, women’s teams were playing in front of large crowds, and make a lot of money. Then the Football Association banned them from his garden. Here is the story of the fall and the rise of women’s football, told through 10 objects collected from the National Football Museum.
“The complaints were made to the football played by women, the [FA] council feel impelled to express their strong opinion that the game of football is quite unsuitable for females and should not be encouraged.
“Complaints have also been made for the conditions in which some of these meetings were organised and played, and the appropriation of the revenue of charitable objects.”
With these words, in 1921, the FA has decided to ban the game of women’s football in AGO-member reasons – that has strangled the game as a successful business, as the stenosis remained in force for 50 years. In other countries there have been completely bans women from playing.
After decades in the wilderness, the game’s commercial performance in the UK was finding its feet again, and at the international level for the World cup are major sports glasses.
Outside the field of play, the largest collection of women’s football memorabilia has been acquired by the National Museum of Football in Manchester, in preparation for a show that should be launched this year. They emphasize the growth, crisis and rebirth of women’s football.
Jean Williams, the University of Wolverhampton, professor of sport has been researching the history of women’s football for more than 25 years, and is the academic leader of the project.
He has also organized in Advance, and in-game: women’s Football Conference, about the history and heritage of women’s football to be held at the football museum in the International Women’s Day, 8 March, and on the following day.
Here Prof Williams takes us through the 10 items that show the history and the struggles of women.
1895 Sketch print magazine of Nettie Honeyball “in his football costume”
“In 1863, we get the formation of the Football Association and in the modern game. The first women’s football games that we know are in 1881, and are professional games played to a large audience and make money. It seems that they are organised by local entrepreneurs. The 1881-82 games are relatively short-lived.
“Nettie Honeyball is the secretary, and the captain of the first British Ladies Football Club, founded in 1894. She was a middle-class woman, and that had a non-playing president, Lady Florence Dixie, who was of a higher class.
“In historical terms, for the first time, women football organized for women. The first game was in Crouch End, in 1895, in front of 10,000 people, which must have generated healthy received. Hundreds of games to follow in the next few years and the women’s game is played in the whole of Britain.”
Wheaties cereal box from 1990 with a US player Michelle Akers
“In the 1991 women’s world championship she was the winner of the golden shoe. She was the first true international women’s football star and was massive. Has paved the way for Mia Hamm and Hope solo, but it is interesting to note that one of the things that has limited its potential for success has been that he suffered from chronic fatigue disorder. But for this, his international profile, he could be much more.
“The story of the Wheaties box is that she has had difficulties to overcome, but it is still achieve, and can not be retained. This is all referred to on the packaging of the cereal, which the producers call it ‘The Breakfast of Champions’.
“It is one of the first commercial endorsements of this type, in 1990, at a time when Fifa finally decided that they were going to supervise actively the women’s football, after regaining his administration in 1971, but not doing much to promote in recent years.”
Programs from the 1950’s women football matches
“The crucial point of the FA ban is not the ban on women’s football outright, but stops being played a member of the garden club. Prior to the ban of women’s football is a fun show, and if you play in stadiums closed, and then you can change people money to come and watch.
“Once the ban comes in the women’s football goes in other places: for the rugby league and cricket, as well as in other locations. These programs show the matches Belle Vue speedway stadium, Manchester, and, in general, of the sports stadium on the Isle of Man.
“But the FA puts pressure on other sports, not to host women’s games. That destroys the business model of the women. And that is to grow the myth that women football has never been a fun trade show. The game is still to find its way back from the ban.”
Christie and Barbie dolls football
“These dolls were released for sale prior to 1999, the women’s World Cup from toymaker Mattel. The goalkeeper of that team was Briana Scurry.” [The first woman goalie, and the first black woman to be elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame.]
“But, in general, reflects [the fact] that the American consumer market was sensitive and aware of the issues of ethnicity and race. The marketing of the dolls was as diverse and inclusive as it could be.
“Of course, there was already a business around the Barbie Christie brands, but such was the growing power of marketing that women’s football is a major manufacturer thought that it could cash in more about the 1999 World Cup.”
Shirt by Eniola Aluko debut, England-Netherlands, 2004
The meaning is that the major manufacturer Umbro product shirt. Historically, the sport brands have not developed consumer markets in the women’s football replica wear in the same way as they have done in other sports, in particular the high fashion to those of tennis and golf.
“It is only relatively recently that the sports brands have released football shirts cut for women, and boots made specifically for women’s feet. However, while these other aspects of women’s football shirts, have done, and what is interesting is that often the shirt sponsor inside the game are not that high brand value’ as the game of men.
“There is a real opportunity for brands in cosmetics companies to sponsor the women football teams, but you get brands such as Nivea, preferring to partner with the Liverpool men of the football team.”
A ticket from the 1991 Women’s World Championship with the sponsors
“This ticket, sponsored by M&Ms, shows that a large pastry brand that uses women’s football to try and break the potential new business on the Chinese market. The tournament was played for the M&Ms Cup. In the meantime, China has wanted to establish a business relationship with the West.
“There were seven sponsors of this first official women’s global tournament in 1991, that Fifa is interesting to note that, provisionally, called “world championships” and not a World Cup. Fifa has wanted to enter China, and China wanted to unite the world of football, family, in a way to test the waters with a low financial risk of events has been drawn up.
“The event was a sporting success and also a success of the media product, has been sold to TV companies around the world, and showed full stadiums for women’s soccer. “
The ball and the boots of the type worn by the 1920s/ ‘ 30s star Lily Parr
“Lily Parr was the star of the Dick, Kerr Ladies football team from Preston. He started playing for the team at the age of 14, and has played for 20 years. There are several reports of Lily received ‘broken time payments’, that is, financial compensation to the amateur players for time they had had to take from their jobs. These women players were nurses, munitions workers, and so on.
“These payments with its earnings, breast-feeding, have allowed us to become the first person in his family to own their own home. Of course, all this refers to the prohibition of 1921, when the FA decides too charitable funds from the women, the matches are used for the player’s expenses. They were meant to be fans, but the financial arrangements could be described at best opaque.
“The boots and the ball were from his era. She was a left wing, then moved to defense, and closes his career in goal.”
The official Poster of the women’s World Cup in 1970
“There were two Women official World cup held in the early 1970s: one in Italy in 1970 and one in Mexico, one year later, is supported by business interests and played in major football stadiums.
“In Mexico, the event certainly looked behind the men’s World Cup held in the country in the previous year. This would explain the marketing of the women’s event, which has been considerable, with keychain, badges, programs and other materials, consumer products, and a lot of coverage in the local press. The final was played in the Azteca Stadium in front of 110,000.
“The Italian event is sponsored by the multinational, the Italian drinks brand Martini & Rossi, and the last was held in Turin, the Municipal Stadium in front of 40,000 people.” [Denmark defeated the host countries in both the finals].
Postcard of Dick, Kerr Ladies FC (1920)
“Dick, Kerr wanted to be known as the best in the world, but also wanted to plug in the success of the local men’s team and the civic notion of the Pride of Preston. Had a regular payment of the public that has supported them financially during the end of the week, but also to revolutionize lit matches.
“The majority of the crowd, their games are local, working-class men. When we think we can be progressive, following the women’s game, to these people who were coming out to support the team week in, week out.
“This commercially-produced postcard is evidence of ‘ambient marketing’, typical of how the team fame beyond their home town to a much wider audience. Newsreel films, and magazine articles have also spread their name further.”
Art deco statuette of a female footballer
“Because women’s football is always up to date, that represent the modernity, assertive, feminine physicality, and in its early days it was played only to collect large sums of money, the broader representation has always been culturally significant.
“Then, artifacts, collectibles, articles disposable, ephemeral, were created in the whole game in the course of the decades. This statuette is an example of a stylised female football player that someone had in their home. Is 1920s in appearance.
“There were a lot of similar models made in the all-women’s boxing, track and field athletics; embellished art deco creations.”