Lewes FC and Lyle and Scott - which announced a six-figure investment into the team last year - have released a new film reflecting on the centenary of a ban on women’s football. Commissioned to coincide with International Women’s Day, the film explores the long-term impact of the 50-year ban on the women’s game in England.
Fronted by former England International and current Lewes FC Director, Claire Rafferty, the film charts the rise of women’s football in the early 20th century, culminating in the famous match between Dick Kerr’s Ladies and St Helens, which saw 53,000 fans attend Goodison Park on Boxing Day 1920, with a further 14,000 people unable to get into ground.
The next year, The FA outlawed the game in England in a decision taken to ‘protect’ women, which was only eventually lifted in 1971.
“It’s been a thought-provoking experience to dig deeper into the history of women’s football in England,” said Rafferty.
“I think a huge majority of football fans have no idea that this ban was ever in place, why it was introduced or that it lasted so long. It’s almost impossible to calculate the true cost of the damage it did to the development of the women’s game but, there in no doubt, the gap in resources, revenues and opportunities would be far more equal if it had never been in place.
“When I was growing up I experienced first-hand the lack of opportunity and access to facilities compared to my male counterparts. That’s why I’m thrilled to present this film and be a part of the Lewes FC collective, to show that there is a progressive model, with equality and community at its heart, that football fans can get behind.
Scottish brand Lyle & Scott’s investment into Lewes in December 2020 will see it support the club with resources as well as on infrastructure projects and player acquisition. The pair say they will also create a thread of films that explore themes of equality, diversity and community in the coming months.