If you think England’s success in women’s football is a recent phenomenon, think again. Women have been representing England and winning tournaments abroad since the 1950’s and the team responsible for this early success was based at Fog Lane Park. These unsung pioneers are finally to be recognised with a plaque in the park and three of the early team members came back to share their memories.
The Manchester Corinthians Ladies Football Club was set up in 1949 by Percy Ashley so that his daughter, Doris could play football. At that time, women’s football had been banned by the FA, meaning that they were unable to play on FA grounds, but this didn’t deter Percy and the team who travelled all over the country playing matches for charity and winning almost all of them. In 1957 they went on a tour to Germany, representing England and won. This was followed by other European tours, including playing in front of 50,000 at Benfica. In 1960 there was a tour of South America and Margaret Whitworth, who was only 14 at the time, had to ask for time off from school. Margaret Shepherd was a member of the team that won the final against Juventus in 1970 and one of her team-mates, Jan Lyons, moved to Italy to play for Juventus for two seasons.
Quite amazing to think that the first England women’s football team was training in Fog Lane Park, using the pond to clean off the mud after a match.
Pam Barnes, Friends of Fog Lane Park