Today marks the end of Hammyend’s women’s football month – but not really (more about that, in a minute!).
With the men’s World Cup being shamefully staged in Qatar, where human rights are disrespected on a daily basis, we took the opportunity to highlight the female game, which has enjoyed a boost in popularity and profile since the Lionesses won the European Championships so memorably over the summer. Over the last thirty days, we’ve heard from female Fulham fans who are organising to make the Craven Cottage experience more inclusive, published plenty of content from wonderful women writers and highlighted the progress of Fulham’s fabulous women’s team.
Fulham FC Women let their football do the talking after Edie Kelly, Chloe Christison-McNee and Helen Ogle joined a special edition of the Green Pole podcast with an outstanding display in the first female match to be staged at Craven Cottage. The Whites might have been beaten by AFC Wimbledon in their Capital Cup contest – but Georgia Heasman scored a special goal and Steve Jaye’s side have used the momentum generated by playing in front of more than 3,000 fans to record two massive league wins – the first away at league leaders Millwall Lionesses – and reignite their promotion campaign.
Coincidentally, today in 1921 the Football Association scandalously banned the women’s game pronouncing it ‘unsuitable for females’ following a surge in popularity of women’s football right across the country after the First World War. The ban remained in place for 51 years. The story, brilliantly chronicled in Carrie Dunn’s outstanding book, is shocking even today. Barriers to entry to football remain for young girls but the success of Sarina Wiegman’s side should mean that no promising female footballer will ever be prevented from making the most of their talent ever again.
Fulham’s women side, superbly led by lifelong fan Mary Southgate, are already inspiring the next generation both by their performances on the pitch but also in their actions off it. They deserve even more support and promotion: something that we’ll strive to provide going forward. It is also important to note that there are careers in football for women who might not be able to find the net as regularly as Ellie Olds. Fulham’s own progress on diversity and inclusion, led by the likes of Jamie Daapah and Eleanor Rowland, is encouraging – and organisations like the wonderful Women in Football, the Football Supporters’ Association and Her Game Too are dedicated to smashing through the last of the glass ceilings in every boardroom.
We’re acutely aware that football remains a male-dominated space, but the emergence of excellent commentators like Robyn Cowan, Pien Meulensteen, Jacqui Oatley, Vikki Sparks, world-class correspondents like Carrie Brown, Juliet Ferrington, Suzanne Wrack and Molly Hudson and peerless pundits including Siobhan Chamberlain, Alex Scott, Karen Carney and Emma Hayes show that there is plenty of female talent out there waiting to shine. We’ve enjoyed hearing from the likes of our very own Lydia Campbell, Hayley Davinson, Sarah Keig, Chloe White and Amelia Armstrong over the last month and want to publish more pieces from our female fans.
So, recognising that a month of promotion means nothing if we don’t commit to improving our own output, we want to encourage the next generation of female Fulham writers to join the likes of Lydia and Isabella Barker in covering sport so flawlessly. If you want the chance to write about the Whites, do get in touch. We’d love to put you in print. In the meantime, we look forward to telling more Fulham female stories just as we did when Rachel Yankey, Katie Chapman and co were dominating domestic football when we started doing this two decades ago.