Remembering 50 years ago the formation of the Women’s Football Association
The Women’s Football Association was formed 50 years ago today (1 Nov 1969).
Many may not know the difficult beginning of the women's game and will find it incredulous that the FA outlawed women’s football from 1921. At that time they said it was bad for the ladies health and not suited for the female form.
The irony is that women only started playing the game in the first place to raise money for the war effort , such was the following, it attracted crowds of several thousand even when the war heroes returned. On one occasion, in 1920, a crowd of 52,000 watched Dick Kerr's Ladies from Preston play St Helens Ladies in a charity match at Goodison Park with 10,000 locked out.
The men came back from the war to retake their jobs and to reclaim football.
Undeterred, in 1969 a Women’s Football Association was established, it was independent of the FA.
November 1st 1969, 44 club representatives attended an inaugural meeting at Caxton Hall in London. Some six months later seven regional Leagues were represented at the first AGM. By January 1970, the FA’s ban on women was rescinded.
The first secretary of the Women’s FA was council worker Arthur Hobbs who was described as the ‘Father of Women’s football. Arthur had tried to organise the first woman’s international tournament in Deal, Kent in the late sixties it was a start, but was thwarted as Deal Town were affiliated to the Kent FA, who in turn affiliated to the FA, who ensured that the 1921 ban was enforced, the tournament had to be moved to a nearby Colliery pitch and it was impossible to get referees to officiate, not that they didn’t want to but they would be reprimanded for breaking FA rules.
In 1983 the Women’s Football Association (WFA) affiliated to the FA on the same basis as the County Football Associations.
In June 1993 the WFA ceased to exist when power was transferred to the FA.
We must wonder, where would the women’s game be today in terms of further development, if the momentum from the early days after the first world war had been cultivated and we must recognise those pioneers like Arthur Hobbs, whose love of the game and tenacity endured.