The governing body wants to give caps to all players after an i-campaign, but the task could be made impossible after discarding historical documents in 1993, reports Sam Cunningham
The FA is in the process of compiling a full legacy list for England’s women footballers, but the task was complicated because the governing body kept no records and documents when it took over leadership of women’s football in 1993.
The Football Association’s plan to award old caps to the original 1972 Lionesses and all England players who followed them was hampered by gaps in the governing body’s historical records. I can reveal.
Before that, women’s football was run by the Women’s Football Association, but the FA didn’t see the need at the time to keep all the records of England women’s players over the past two decades.
For 150 years, whenever a male player made his debut for the England team, he was given a cap with his name and the number he represents in the ongoing line of players who have represented his country.
FA records list Robert Barker, who played a single England game against Scotland in November 1872, as first, while Leicester City right-back James Justin, the 1,271. was when he played against Hungary in June.
However, the FA has never given official caps to female players. The original Lionesses, who played England’s first official game against Scotland in November 1972 after the FA’s 50-year ban on women’s football was lifted, were given handmade replica caps by either Flo Bilton, an official of the Women’s Football Association, or a white plastic bag to carry her boots.
The FA has now hired Jean Williams, professor of sport history and author of several books on the history of women’s football, to piece together the fragmented history of England’s players and track them all down.
Patricia Gregory, a founding member of the WFA, its only surviving official and one of the most influential figures in the development of women’s football, also works tirelessly and tirelessly on the project.
I shared the contact details of Jeannie Allott, a 1972 Lionesses winger who now lives in the Netherlands, with her permission with the FA. Allott, who made her debut aged 16, recalled hitchhiking from Crewe to London for games and training as they had to pay travel expenses and once had to stay a night at Waterloo Station.
“I got on a truck, a milk cart, anything that wanted to go to London,” said Allott, 66. “The things that we do for the England team.
“That’s why it’s frustrating. What we went through to get women’s football to where it is today. Nothing that happened in the past should be forgotten, but the FA has forgotten us. We want a cap and I think we deserve an apology.
“We weren’t equal then. It was a shame. Some in the FA did not agree with women’s football. It was a man’s world.”
Such is the task of piecing together the history of women’s football in England that the members of the 1972 Lionesses can’t even remember who scored England’s goals in the 3-2 win over Scotland in the opening game.
Fifa records claim that Sylvia Gore, Lynda Hale and Allott were the scorers. Other reports claim Sylvia Gore scored and Pat Davies scored two. When I tried to clarify with Allott, she said she had been told she had scored but couldn’t remember exactly.
David Marlowe, another WFA founder, had kept many of the records and when he died in 1999, Gregory, 74, made two trips to his widow’s home in Newport to fill her Ford Fiesta with boxes of file folders to preserve them .
The files were offered to the FA but only some of them were kept and others are now kept in the British Library but much of the history is believed to have been thrown away.
Russell Osborne, 44, is hosting the Three Lions Podcast and has spent several years researching English women’s football. “I don’t think the FA can produce a complete legacy list,” Osborne said I. “There are games where the English team is not known.”
However, the researchers helping the FA are hopeful a full legacy list can be produced. It is believed four of the players the FA has yet to locate are Jane Stanley, Linda Young, Debbie Mack and Pauline Chilton.
An FA spokesman said: “In the Autumn the FA will honor the England players who have played under both The Women’s FA and The FA from 1972 to the present.
“Clearly we recognize and appreciate the rich history of women’s football in England before 1972, having previously contributed to two enduring tributes to Dick, Kerr Ladies Football Club. Other teams will compete during our 50thth year anniversary”.
I first revealed the anger felt by England’s original 1972 Lionesses at never receiving official caps, and how hurt they were that they had been forgotten by the FA.
After the newspaper’s story was raised in the House of Commons by Labor MP Barbara Kelley, the FA pledged to give official caps to all women who have played for England, as has been the case for their male counterparts in England since 1872 case was.