Big Ron was Big Wrong About Women’s Football

Big Ron was Big Wrong About Women’s Football

In the year that marks the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote, it’s tempting to talk about the great progress that women’s football has made over the last few years, despite the best efforts of Ron Atkinson, who believed that ”Women should be in the discotheque, the boutique and the kitchen, but not in football.”

This would ignore the fact that women’s football was already well developed and immensely popular in the years before and after The Vote, before being crushed by the FA’s 1921 ban on playing in Football League grounds, because “…the game of football is quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged.”

Mrs Graham’s XI, formed in Edinburgh in 1881 is considered the first British women’s football team, playing an international against England before a pitch invasion caused the match to be abandoned (it’s unclear if the reason for the incursion was sexism or hooliganism, possibly both!). Meanwhile, down south, the wonderfully named Nettie Honeyball had founded The British Ladies Football Club which also played in front of thousands. The First World War galvanised women’s football, and the teams formed in munitions factories were drawing massive crowds. The most famous of these, the Dick, Kerr Ladies drew 53,000 to Goodison Park in 1920.

The FA edict changed all that, and a new generation of football suffragettes was needed. Rose Reilly paved the way, becoming the only Scottish footballer to win the world cup. In England, legendary players such as Kelly Smith MBE have firmly re-established the women’s game, despite the best efforts of Sepp Blatter, who believes that we should …”let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball. They could, for example, have tighter shorts”. To this kind of nonsense jockey Michelle Payne has the best response – “Everyone else can get stuffed [who] think women aren’t good enough.”