Posts Tagged ‘Women's Football’

Back in June I posted about a visit to Football: Designing the Beautiful Game at the Design Museum. I was fascinated by the story of women’s game and amazed to see a poster for The First Ladies Football Match, North v South, played at Crouch End Athletic Ground on my doorstep.

I had not got around to the blog post but given this week’s amazing performance by Lionesses, the timing felt right.  Women’s football was very popular in Victorian times and then faded away, building back over a very long time to where it is right now. And there was diversity within the team back then, an issue being discussed right now.

I looked into that game in more detail and the history unfolded but a disputed history. Amazingly, 1895 gave us the 1st black female footballer – Emma Clarke from Bootle – or did it? 

And it gave us the captain, Nettie Honeyball – fab name – who was quoted in an interview with Daily Graphic on 2nd March 1895 a saying she saw no reason, “why women should be excluded from athletic sport.”  Quite so Nettie. (Hornsey Historical Society)

Loved this quote about the game; sounds unmissable to me: “There was a lot of violent elbow action, and they had a tendency to dance around the ball a little unsure what to do with it. They forgot the rules and forgot to change ends at half time. Nevertheless, everyone thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle with much shouting and cries of encouragement from the crowd.” (Hornsey Historical Society)

Back to Emma Clarke.  If you want to find out more about the disputed history, click this link. There is a view that Emma from Bootle, which felt right to me given the footballing history in that area, may be Emma from Plumstead in the East End of London.  And there is now a debate over her identity which has a scandal in the background.  As someone from the NW, I would like to believe that Emma Clarke was from Bootle and was the 1st black female footballer and go with the blue plaque outside Campsbourne School in my local area. Whatever the truth, Emma was a football pioneer.

No-one is quite sure where the game took place as the Athletic Ground no longer exists in Crouch End. But I did the reading and took my best guess as it being around Nightingale Lane. The blue plaque is currently hidden behind scaffolding but just visible, inspiring youngsters to get involved in the beautiful game.

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