Tuesday 8th March sees the world celebrate International Women’s Day, where we look at the achievements of women throughout history and also in the present day.
Accrington Stanley Community Trust are proud to deliver female only football sessions on a weekly basis, hoping to inspire a new generation of healthy, active and confident women. Inspiration can come from all corners of the globe, but sometimes those that deserve recognition are local people trying to make an impact on a local level.
Betty Taylor is a former player and manager of Accrington Wanderers Ladies who like all female football players in the 1960s, had to fight against the governing bodies who were determined to stop women’s football from ever finding a pathway towards becoming professional.
Betty was born in 1942 and became involved with Accrington Wanderers in the late 1950s, playing as a centre forward. The club played various charity matches in aid of local causes, however finding the necessary facilities to play those matches was not easy. In 1921, the FA decreed that women’s football was not allowed to be played at Football League grounds, further stating that women could not use FA registered match officials or even study to become a football coach at local education centres.
These setbacks meant that in 1962 when Betty’s Accrington Wanderers offered to play a fundraising match to help out a financially-stricken Accrington Stanley side at Peel Park, the FA refused permission for the match to go ahead.
In an attempt to get this decision overturned, Betty wrote to the FA but did not receive much sympathy as the FA refused to back down on the matter. 50 years after the initial decision to ban women’s football from Football League grounds, the FA finally reversed the decision in 1971, however it was only in 2018 when a fully professional women’s Football League was instated in England.
Unfortunately, Betty did not carry her playing career on into a time where women’s football and women’s sport in general was more widely accepted.
Last week we spoke to Betty’s niece Rachel who told us: “Betty was very pleased to see the ban overturned and felt like the decision should have come a lot sooner.”
“She is very pleased to see how far the women’s game has progressed form her playing days, but just wishes it could be her on those pitches now, playing the sport she loves.”
In an interview with the Lancashire Telegraph almost a decade ago, Betty explained that: “The FA just wouldn’t help. They were awful back then, but look at how much it has changed over the years. It breaks my heart that we were continually hitting brick walls.”
Betty also told reporters in the 1960s: “What’s wrong with a girl being keen on football?” Challenging status-quos and being unafraid of authority, Betty Taylor is a woman who just wanted to play football and confronted those who wouldn’t let her. Thankfully, it is now much easier for girls to take part in the sport today.
Accrington Stanley Community Trust deliver Girls’ Football Development sessions each Monday during term time. Our Acorns (Ages 4-6) and Lionesses (Ages 7-11) programmes provide an introduction to the basics of football and a platform on which to continue their participation in the game if they so choose.
Our free Premier League Kicks football sessions, taking place three times a week, also see female participation.
Role models like Betty, the Accrington Wanderers team and every woman who has fought/is fighting against injustice are pivotal to the development and inspiration of the next generation, who we hope will go on to inspire others in the future.
For more information about our Girls’ Football Development sessions or any of our programmes, please visit our website
We’d like to say thank you to Betty Taylor and her niece Rachel in providing us with valuable information for this article.