Women and Football have a whole lot of history

kerr-ladiesDoes anybody know who these women are? No? Ok, well, these women are famous for their football. These women were one of the earliest known to women’s football. 1917 to 1965 to be precise. Which is 48 years. This phenomenal team went on to create history in women’s football, even in football as a non-gender specific sport! Read up more about Kerr Ladies here: http://www.dickkerrladies.com/

Now, time for some interesting facts about the history of the most loved sport on earth. Estimated at about 3.5 billion fans, football is adored by many, hated by few.

Fact 1: Women’s football was banned in 1921. Why?

The build up to the ban on women’s football in 1921 was, and still is, remarkable. Lily Parr, one of the most exceptional football players to bless the sport. She broke the arm of a professional male footballer, and she was also the first (recorded) female to get a red card for fighting. Women took on men’s jobs when they went to fight, and also took their place on the football field.

The beloved game being played by women hadn’t been very well accepted, especially before WWI. The Football League banned all games in the 14-15 season. In the 1900’s that is. Initially, the morals for playing women’s football was to raise money for war charities. Their passion was extraordinary, and in 1917 The Munitionette’s Cup was invented. The two standouts were star forward Bella Raey, who scored a hat-trick (on top of her 130 goals, just for that season) and Jennie Morgan. Morgan apparently went straight to the game after her wedding. Boxing Day 1920, a game between Kerr Ladies and St Helens Ladies attracted 53,000 spectators. This was women’s footballs golden era. And unfortunately it was to be short-lived.

The war was over in  1921 and women were to return to their “right and proper” lives. Top (female) physicians stated that football was “unsuitable” and “too much for a women’s physical frame.” With the FA banning the sport for women, the growth of male’s participated returned. Although, women still continued to play. 50 years later, in 1971, the ban was lifted, and now only 100 (almost) years later, are we beginning to attract the same amount of spectators as our predecessors.

Fact 2: No evidence of women playing football in the 18th century.

Fact 3: It was said that if men were accompanied by women at football games, their behaviour would be better. Women then received free entry and over 2,000 women turned up for their first free entrance in 1885 thanks to Preston North End.

Fact 4: The first official match took place by women was on 23rd March, 1895.

Fact 5: The first game between the North and South ended 8-3. I am honestly not being bias.

Fact 6: David Lloyd George, British Prime Minister, encouraged these games. But because the image was reinforced that women were doing the men’s jobs needed to fight for war.

Fact 7: First England v France games (unofficial). England won 2-0, then 5-2, 2-2, and the final game France managed to win 2-1 at Stamford Bridge, home to Chelsea FC.

Fact 8: Winston Churchill allowed a night game between Kerr Ladies and the rest of England to use two anti-aircraft searchlights, generation equipment and forty carbide flares to floodlight the match.

Fact 9: The women have played at well known football grounds known to some of the best teams in the world. Old Trafford – Manchester United, St James – Newcastle United, Goodison Park – Everton, Preston North Ends venue and many more.

Fact 10: In 1921, during the Miners Lock-Out, women’s football associated itself with charity, and to help labour movement, which led to being labelled as a politically dangerous sport, contributing to the ban of women’s football.


Why isn’t women’s football covered like men’s?

This question has been argued for many years. Especially with women’s football becoming increasingly popular in the 1920’s. But back then, men were increasingly sexist and the FA (Football Association) was ran by men. The game that many women loved, and still do, was banned and labelled “quite unsuitable for female’s” – by men, obviously. A true fact to surprise you, and myself, women’s football once attracted more than 50,000. More than most men’s games. But let’s not get too deep into the history, that will come in a separate blog.

Now you can call me stereotypical, but you can’t argue with the truth. Men would present women with “men are physically and mentally challenged more when playing against other men” and women would respond with “men get paid for playing the exact same sport as men, no changes”. Both opinions may be true, but nobody actually looks at who covers sports.

Slightly off topic, but still a contributing factor as to why women’s football isn’t covered as much as men’s, sports journalism is prominently covered by men, which makes sense that sport played by men, is the dominant sport on television. You put two and two together and come to the conclusion that men prefer men’s sport and women prefer women’s sport. Or you put two and two together and get four. The popular broadcasters such as BBC have started to ‘tackle’ the issue by hiring female sports journalists such as Claire Balding, Jacqui Oatley, Gabby Logan and Alison Mitchell. If we compare these four women to the fourteen men named on the BBC sport’s website, that’s less than a third. To no surprise, bylines are dominated by men in national newspapers (a survey has proved this six months before and six months after the 2012 Olympics). Statistics show us that articles with a female byline was below 2%, 1.8% to be exact. Some papers didn’t even include female journalists, and at no point did the percentage rise higher than 3%.

This discussion was once brought up in a classroom when I was studying sport in college, and a boy said ‘men get paid more than women, so that’s why there’s no coverage’. Well yes, very true, but very wrong. Wayne Rooney is estimated to earn up to £260.000 per week, with Alex Morgan earning £1.3 million a year. Easy maths, Rooney earns that in just over a month. My argument presented back was ‘why do men get paid more for doing the same job?’ Women still play 11-a-side, 90 minutes, have free-kicks, corners, penalties, throw-ins, and so on. Yeah men may have a harder challenge due to them being stronger thanks to testosterone, but the game played is still the exact same.

The amount of money that men’s football brings into the country, and the world is immense. Reports have found that in the 14/15 season, the five big European leagues brought in the revenue of £12 billion, the Premier League generating £3.3 billion of that. Struggling to find information about how much revenue the ladies bring in for England, I found out some interesting facts about revenue in the US. Reading an article from the Daily Mail, the US Women’s Football Team earned more than $14 million revenue than the men’s. Is this unfair that they still get paid more? Also, the prize money for the world cup is quite a difference. Sixteen times more is the difference men receive over women.

I could go on to explain why women’s football deserves more coverage, for example the ladies are more like-able and not spoiled brats, they actually want to play football and do not waste valuable game time, men’s wages are repugnant, the women’s game is innocent and untainted, offers competition and more variety. The list is endless. I mean, in order to receive more coverage and to get more men to watch we could, i quote Sepp Blatter “wear tighter shorts”.