Well, I wouldn't profess to be an expert on women's football but from my perspective it seems that all the barriers preventing women taking part fully in our national game have disappeared. All the top clubs seem to have women's teams who have played at all the top grounds, including Wembley. Women play football at the Olympics and have their own World Cup and Euros. That seems like full integration - or am I mistaken?

Recent years have seen some dramatic changes although over a century ago many would have believed that equality in football had been pretty much achieved. Born out of the northern munitions factories of the First World War women's football boomed with the top sides remaining popular after the end of the war. The top women's side of the day was the Dick, Kerrs ladies side from Preston. They attracted an attendance of over 10,000 for a Christmas Day match at Preston's Deepdale ground in 1917 while on Boxing Day 1920 over 53,000 were present at Goodison Park for a friendly against St Helens Ladies - and another 10,000 were locked out!. 

Sadly though the Football Association wasn't the all-inclusive organisation it has now become and they weren't fans of the women's game. They couldn't ban it but they could - and did - ban any FA member club staging a women's match at their ground. That ban came into effect on December 5th 1921 and amazingly lasted for 50 years before common-sense prevailed.

A century ago the FA considered women's football to be a distraction to the men's game but amongst the population as a whole many - men and women - considered women playing football as being  'unfeminine'. In the same year as the FA ban - 1921 -  an article in the Boy's Pictorial gave some idea of what many people thought. This I print in full below - I'm a tad embarrassed to include it on this site but I don't want to give any credibilty to the words but it is a fascinating piece of social history which gives some idea of what many people were thinking at the time. Here goes.....



Perhaps many readers will be inclined to dismiss from their minds the question of whether girls should play football, with the thought: "It doesn't matter; they do."

Now that the Football Association has "put its foot down with a firm hand," however, the question has again become one of topical interest.

As a mere man there are just one or two points that strike me in connection with the matter. The first is, are there not enough games quite suitable for women and girls without their wanting to play such a game as football, about which there is a controversial atmosphere?

There are dozens of good girls' games - or perhaps I had better say, good games for girls. It seems to me, however, that the whole business is simply another case of the girls wanting to copy the men.

Do football girls really get any pleasure out of their play? I very much doubt it. It is the same as with smoking, the majority of them positively detest it - but it looks big, you know!

From the point of view of the spectators, the position is even more ridiculous. The grand old British sport of football then becomes a pantomime. Instead of the spectators watching tactics, they watch antics.

As a music-hall "turn," a girls' football match is in its true company; as a healthy outdoor sport, it is out of its element entirely.

The trainer of one of the best-known girls' football teams has been saying, in a contemporary, that she can see the time coming (in the near future, too) when the best girls' team will be able to play the best professional team in the country.

The comment which comes immediately to the mind is "Don't be silly!" A team of schoolboys would beat Dick Kerr's team, or any other girls' team, with the greatest of ease. Why? For the simple reason that football is essentially a game for the male sex - women are not "built" for it.

A word to the girls who do play - stop it! Whatever you think, you are not admired by the opposite sex.

Thankfully things have changed!





I couldn't settle in Italy -
it was like living in a foreign country."

Ian Rush on his spell at Juventus

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