Percy Ashley formed Corinthian Ladies Football Club in 1949, mainly so that his daughter, Doris, could play in a team. Percy was a scout for Bolton Wanderers and a well known local referee. His daughter Doris was a magnificent player, but there was no existing local team, in Manchester. Doris had a cleft lip and was profoundly deaf, So it would seem that building a team around her was a way of supporting her sporting interest, and also helping her to socialize. It is clear Doris was a magnificent player.
But Manchester Corinthians were not like the upper class male amateurs from whom they took their name. Their home ground on Fog Lane Park, Didsbury and facilities were sparse, and players had to be both very determined to play football and resilient: several reminisced washing post-match in duck ponds as there was no running water in the changing rooms, which were also unheated.
There were very few other women’s teams in the region. Therefore in 1957, a second team linked to Manchester Corinthians was formed by Percy Ashley under the name ‘The Nomads’, or less frequently ‘All Stars’, to enable them to play against each other in charity matches.
Percy and Doris Ashley and the formation of the Corinthians LFC
Beginnings The Manchester Corinthians Ladies Football Club, formed on 5th January 1949 became one of the most important women’s clubs after 1945 to pioneer women’s football internationally as a celebration civic pride in being from Manchester and Lancashire. Percy Ashley formed Corinthian Ladies mainly so that his daughter, Doris, could play in a team. Percy was well known in the area for football. His daughter Doris was an excellent player, but had no local team to join. Doris had a cleft palate and was profoundly deaf: this did not hold her back in any way, as she was presented with the Odeon Lady Footballer of the Year Gold Medal for 1950, for instance. Programmes claimed that she had played for England and France, and she certainly was amongst greats, like Dick Kerr’s Edna Broughton, who came to the Corinthians for one season in 1950-51. The team was built around Doris, who was captain, and all the players I have interviewed remembered her as an outstanding footballer. Quite a few also remember her as keen disciplinarian when they were on tour, so hiding from Doris became part of the fun of being away. Fog Lane Park The name Corinthians came from the amateur upper class male team who toured extensively, and the amateur tour would define Percy Ashley’s business model for the women’s club. But Manchester Corinthians were not like the upper class amateurs from whom they took their name. Their home ground on Fog Lane Park, Didsbury was sparse, in terms of facilties, and players had to be both very determined to play football and resilient. Several players reminisced to me about washing post-match in duck ponds as there was no running water in the changing rooms, which were also unheated. The alternative was to carry water across the park to wash off the mud, and as many had travelled by public transport to play, this was much needed.
Britain’s Premier Ladies Team There were very few other women’s teams in the region and teams that had been once great, such as Dick, Kerr’s Ladies of Preston, were in decline by the 1950s and would fold in the mid 1960s. Therefore in 1957, a second team linked to Manchester Corinthians was formed by Percy Ashley, initially under the name Dynamos, then as more overseas travel took place, under the name ‘The Nomads’, or less frequently ‘All Stars’, to enable them to play against each other in international charity matches. Already, by the time they played a representative Lancashire Ladies XI at the Festival of Britain celebrations for the Furness Trophy on 21 July 1951, they were acclaiming themselves as ‘Britain’s Premier Ladies Team’. By then they already held the Manchester Area Cup, the Sports Magazine Cup, the Roses Trophy, The Midland Trophy, The Cresswell Trophy, Odeon Championship Trophy and the Belle Vue Trophy. The Corinthians were entirely self-funded and played in a way that combined some limited domestic competition with overseas tours. Globetrotters It has often been said that ‘Where Manchester leads others will follow,’ however this has seldom been applied to the relatively neglected topic of women’s football in the city, and its surrounding area. Manchester Corinthians were able to use the latest travel technology to take part in tours to the European Cup in Berlin in 1957 winning against Germany 4-0 and reportedly singing Land of Hope and Glory on their victory lap, before going on tour to Portugal for a month the same year. Players remembered using sea-planes as there were no airports on Madeira at the time, and trips to mainland Portugal. In 1959 two weeks were spent touring The Netherlands. The most ambitious schedule was twelve weeks in South America & the Caribbean in 1960, followed by one month to Italy in 1961, playing on the grounds of Juventus, Milan and other major clubs. During their existence, both Corinthians and Nomads teams toured extensively; including playing Dundalk of Irelandin Wales in 1960, followed by trips to Ireland in 1962, Morocco in 1966, and France in 1970, in all winning more than fifty trophies.
Life Changing Experiences This gave the players, and Ashley, life experiences way beyond most of the people they worked with during the week. So successful was this strategy that, by the time the FA lifted the ban on women’s football in England in 1969, Corinthians and Nomads had between them raised over £275,000 for charity; mostly for the International Red Cross and Oxfam. More of this later in future posts. But for now I will leave you with the Corinthians song, and the Nomads song they would sing on tour. It’s very popular to think now of supportive Dad’s who encourage their daughter’s interest in sport, but Percy Ashley was a feminist father, who did more than most to help his daughter play a sport she loved, at the time when women’s football was prevented by the FA from playing on affiliated grounds. This pioneer, and his fantastic footballing daughter should be in the National Football Museum Hall of Fame, especially since it is in Manchester! All together now….
The Corinthians Song We’re Corinthians from Manchester Football Ladies from Lancashire Blue and Black for Corinthians Boy! What a team! Fa la la la la la We’ll beat anyone who we play Makes no difference, home or away We have the talent , Our youngsters are gallant Corinthians from Manchester Ole! The Nomads Song (to the tune of Me and My Gal, 1942) The Northern Nomads are coming today The Northern Nomads are on their way The Corinthians they are playing And everybody’s been saying That the crowd will be swaying With excitement and glee With excitement and glee. The Northern Nomads are a very good team They are the finest team the world’s ever seen And if they score a little goal Just one, or two, or three, or four, or more We’ll call them the team of the year!
These webpages will be developed over 2020 to mark the team’s history. If you have any information to help us, please get in touch.
Dr Jackie Spendel
I was born in 1946, Todmorden, Yorkshire, and was football mad from a very early age, a lifelong Burnley supporter. My story is that I wanted to play football, and initially had to make do with boys teams but in 1959 heard of Manchester Corinthians and went to meet Percy Ashley of Fog Lane in Didsbury, Manchester. I was dead impressed, and had a trial. But I was only sixteen, it was two buses away, and my Dad had to come with me on the bus, so it was not easy, and of course we had to find the cost of the bus. We did not have much, and football boots seemed such a luxury.
I did go a few times to play for Corinthians, but it was a fair distance with no transport other than the two buses. I did get offered to go to South America in around 1960 but I was coming up to my O’ levels, there was no money available in a family of mill workers, and, over and above that, my mother would not hear of it!!
A closer option for me was Burnley Ladies which was started by Enid Astin, who I believe was the first woman to do an FA Coaching Course, or it may have been a Refereeing course, at Lilleshall, so that must have been 1961? She was allowed to do the course but not awarded the certificate because she was a woman. I played for them for a couple of years, travelling for example to Preston, and Boston in Lincolnshire. A few of the girls there were from Burnley Girls High School (I was the lone traveller from Todmorden Grammar School). I have a nice photo of the Burnley team of that time. So in a way the success of Corinthians also helped other teams to form for those of us who could not travel into Manchester.
My career (Physics then IT) has taken be all over the world and it was always easier to play hockey than find women’s football teams, although I did play for Datsun Ladies in Pretoria, South Africa in 1976.
More recently we have lived in Europe, Germany and Switzerland since 1988 and it has been great to see the rise of the sport. Since retirement I have been able to follow Championships etc, travelling to Finland (2009), Germany (2011) and Sweden (2013), and the rise of women’s football, so hopefully girls of today will not have to travel so far to find a team.
The photo of Burnley Ladies is here, was originally printed in the Burnley Express, and it was still in the original envelope with the date stamp of January 1962.
Enid Astin is in the middle at the back. The Burnley Girls High School representatives were the four girls next to Enid (right hand side), and I think they were in the 5th form. I am on the left, middle row. Jackie Mitchell.
Please if you have any details about Manchester Corinthians, Burnley Ladies, Enid Astin or Datsun Ladies of Pretoria, do get in touch with Prof Jean Williams.
Early Days I fell in love with football as a young kid and fostered an interest in anything football related. My Dad, Thomas Lyons, was a good player, but not as good as his brother Alf who had trials with Everton. Dad played for Princess Road School and Manchester Boys. Someone said that Denis Violet was related to us but we never really got to the bottom of it, so I am not sure. My Mum, Avis Lyons, played netball when she was younger but wasn't really that sporty, but she was a very clever woman, very supportive of me, more so even than my Dad in many ways. My sister Judy was not sporty, just off with her mates going out. At school, she used to bunk off and I’d be saying ‘She’s not well,’ and they would go ‘Again?’ My friends were also not that interested in football so I played at school with the boys, who would let me go in goal because none of them wanted to do it and then I would play out from goal, trying to get involved. There wasn't really any street football for me, just the school playground or shooting practice on my own. My Mum was a seamstress, although she could have done more. My Dad was a Singer sewing mechanic. However, for the last eight years of his working life he worked on the railways at Alderley Edge, where he used to plant flowers on the platform to make it look lovely. He loved that job! When he retired at 65, he got cancer and died at 68, and my Mum got a job at a pet shop, with Mark and his partner Neil. So she supported herself. I used to pester my mum to send off the Typhoo tea vouchers, so I could collect them. The first football card I received was Denis Law! My Dad took me once to Old Trafford once before 1966, and he used to take me and Judy to the Reserves, at Manchester United to get us out of the hosue while Mum was cleaning or something. So Denis Law was the first player I remember being excited by. Judy was a bit older and I had to do what she said, so we had Bovril while watching these games, and a wagon wheel if we could stretch it, and sometimes we wouldn't watch but just run up and down. Denis Law was exciting in the box, a tricky player, and I loved it if he flicked the ball up or did a back heel. Tricks came so easy to him. I couldn’t contain my excitement as England hosted the 1966 World Cup. The Portuguese team stayed at the Stanneylands Hotel in Handforth. I lived on the Spath Lane Council Estate and nothing could have been better at that stage of my life. I spent many a day camped outside the hotel waiting for a glimpse of one of the greatest footballers of all time, my hero Eusebio ( nicknamed the Black Pearl). I suppose I’d have been about 11/12 and bear in mind people didn't go abroad on holiday as they do now, so to see overseas players in real life was very exciting. I didn’t get to see him in real life though, just on the telly. He was such an exciting player, technical, with superb technique, and Ioved that style of play. He also seemed like a smashing, genuinely nice man off the field.
The Aberfan Disaster on 21 October 1966 was a catastrophic collapse of a colliery tip; a disaster that shook the nation. Many children died in their school. It was my first football game as captain of the girl’s team of the Spath Lane Estate versus the boys. Mr Adge Jupp, a local man off the estate, organised it and played me at full back. So he knew what he was doing. The match was played on my school playing fields, Handforth Hall County Primary School. All the donations raised went to the Aberfan Disaster Fund November 1966. We raised £125. We lost, I think 6-4, or so the newspaper said, and I scored a penalty and made the other 3 goals, the journalist reported. I was the best player on the day and I was chaired off the field by the organizers and spectators. At the presentation evening, I was awarded with a shield for the match, it was engraved with my nickname, as I was affectionately known as ‘Tiger’. I also got awarded with a Toby jug and asports voucher. I remember feeling very confident on the day, and I enjoyed the crowd, showboating a bit, and being a bit cocky. For example instead of kicking the ball forwards from a free kick, I back-heeled it to the goalkeeper. I wouldn't do it now, but I thought I was a star then!
Joining Manchester Corinthians My mother saw an advertisement in the local newspaper, I think it was the Manchester Evening News, in late 1967 or early 1968. We wrote in and were offered trials, by Bill Oldfield, as Mr Ashley had died by then. I have the letters of both trial games, and I know the pitches on Fog Lane Park were bad so it must have been mid Winter. Gladys Aiken had not yet taken over as manager. The letter of selection came and Mr Oldfield said, ‘I have been impressed with Janice, even in bad conditions’ and so on, but also stressing that I would have to work hard to progress. I hadn’t been sure in the trials that I would be selected as their were very good footballers, and I was 13, whereas some were grown women, and I didn't turn 14 until that September. It was a big step up but I was speedy, with spirit. I joined on 6 February 1968. I knew the club’s reputation. The Corinthian Club was formed on the 5th January 1949 by the late Percy Ashley of Didsbury, Manchester. The club was one of the oldest established Ladies football clubs in the world, at that time. The club raised over a quarter of a million pounds for various charities and played all over the world to help worthy causes. The Corinthian trophies included The European Cup won in Germany 1957 and the Venezuela Cup Tournament 1960.
I still wanted to be a forward but I could see others were better than me at that, and when they played me at full back very little got past. Sheila Isherwood would say to me, ‘Jan, if you can’t stop them, drop them.’ I was like a little rat! I was a great tackler. I played all over in my time, but mainly for Corinthians as full back. In the style of play I wanted to execute, I was influenced by Whitty too, and to try and play like she did. She loved the players like Eusebio also, and the continental players. She liked the South American style, and idolised Pele, Garrincha, Rhonaldino, Rivaldo and Jiarzinho. Players with magical technique. She was great for using the same techniques, like looking one way and shooting the other. I tried to be a forward, because I wanted to score. But I could see that others were better going forwards.
Tiny Shepherd Pat Quayle Whitty Jean Wilson Titch Wilde Jan Hazel Bancroft Margaret Temple Pauline Quayle Sheila Isherwood Sue Kelly GK Captain
Domestically, we played against all the great teams, Sue Lopez and Dorothy Cassels of Southampton at the Deal Tournament which we won in 1968 and 1969. Both players later played in Italy for Roma and Lazio. The atmosphere at Deal was great. We had to choose to stay in B&B or in a Church hall in our sleeping bags. My parents hadn’t the money for a B&B so we slept in the Church Hall and it was good fun. Whitty chose a B&B. You got to play against teams you hadn’t heard of, from down South like Deal and Maidenhead and so on. My friend Eileen Gay and I had good fun. I was very fortunate to be able to travel round the country playing football and visiting so many interesting places and people with the same ambitions and hope as myself. I played locally with the Corinthians and Nomads Teams. I also had the opportunity to play around the country at: Scunthorpe, Maidenhead, Blackpool, Prestatyn, Worcester and a favourite of mine, The Annual Deal Tournament in Kent. I remember playing and winning The Deal Tournament in 1968 and the Deal International Tournament in 1969.
I remember travelling to Kilmarnock around 1968-69 to play a team called Stewarton & Thistle LFC, the oldest women’s football team in Scotland. Then we played against Stewarton and Thistle, with the great Rose Reilly, Edna Nellis and Elsie Cook. Again we got a coach and it was stay at a B&B or at other player’s homes. So me and Eileen stayed at a girls house where we had to sleep in te front room with a big slobbering Alsatian. Her brothers came in from the pub and chatted to us, waking us up and keeping us up until about 2. The next day we were shattered, Whitty was as fresh as a daisy, and I had to mark Rose Reilly, as left full back that day. I was normally right full back but they wanted my speed, as she was a right winger. It was a disaster and they beat us 5-3. Not that they weren’t great players, but they were very physical, very tough tacklers and I was so tired! My position on that day was left full back (I usually played right full back), I played against their striker Rose Reilly, a right winger, who went on to be Scotland’s greatest ever women’s player. I remember it was a challenge and a very tough game and she was an extremely fast, skilful player. Playing against a great opponent improved my football, tactical knowledge, my strength and character to continue to succeed. I remember playing against the Dundalk Ladies from Ireland in Prestatyn, Wales in 1970. It was at the time of the troubles in Ireland and the game was played on muddy pitch. I think we won 8-0. Afterwards we attended a reception with them. It was an opportunity to forge friendships and make lasting memories. The Reims International Football Tournament July 1970 was my first memory of travelling abroad and my first trip by Air France to Paris and the city of Rheims. Our team was Margaret Temple, Eileen Gay (Joker), Margaret Taylor (Tiny), Chris Millar, Margaret Wilde, Jan Lyons, Pauline Quayle (Captain), Jackie Thornton, Margaret Whitworth (Whitty), Pat Quayle, Sheila Isherwood (Isshy), Sue Kelly, and Linda Hallam
Top Row left to right:-
Margaret Temple, Eileen Gay (Joker), Margaret Taylor (Tiny), Chris Millar, Margaret Wilde, Jan Lyons, Pauline Quayle (Captain)
Bottom Row left to right:-
Jackie Thornton, Margaret Whitworth (Whity), Pat Quayle, Sheila Isherwood (Isshy) Sue Kelly, Linda Hallam.
Above: Tiny Taylor and Sheila Isherwood heading the Ball before we embarked. I am on the right.
On arrival at Manchester airport I was asked if I preferred smoking or non-smoking for the journey, something that is unheard of today. I can still remember being measured for my team outfit. It was a short skirt and a jacket made of dark blue crimplene and the latest fashion accessories, white tights! I felt so special, like I was a star at the age of 16. I was so excited on the day of departure to France. It was my first time of flying on a plane. I was so looking forward to this marvellous adventure.
Two hours later we arrived in France and the team was collected in various French cars and taken to our residence, a hostel somewhere in Rheims. We then went to a reception area for food and drink. This is where we met our international opponents. Corinthians played against Juventus (Italy), Stade De Rheims (France), and Entente Kaplice (Czechoslovakia). It was so interesting to meet these foreign footballing ladies. We shared a dormitory with the Juventus team, they were on one side of the room and we were on the other. We shared stories as best we could, we also sang together and just had a great time. The first game was an exciting match between Manchester Corinthians and Entente, which we won 5 goals to 2. In the other game, Juventus beat Stade De Rheims 2-1, which meant it was a Manchester versus Juventus Final, at Stade De Rheims stadium. The actual Final day, looking back seems a bit of a blur. Both teams walked side by side through an underground tunnel to the steps, up to the pitch. We had our tracksuit tops on and Juventus’ team manager took umbrage as they thought we were hiding our shirt numbers! In turn they went back to the changing room to put their track suit tops on, I thought it was a bit silly at the time. I remember the vast stadium and the main stand; it was full of fans and quite overwhelming. I remember entering the field and lining up, it was a massive moment. The national anthem started to play and we proudly started to sing aloud: “God save our Gracious Queen”. It was an amazing feeling.
First half, a very tough match, both teams cancelling each other out and both playing cautiously. At half time it was 0-0. The second half was similar, everyone playing with caution. Eventually we scored. A cross came over from the wing and Linda Hallam slotted it with her left foot. We all went wild but we knew Juventus then had to come out and attack us. With 10 minutes to go I was carried off with bad cramp, a substitute defender was brought on and we managed to hang on till the final whistle, we had done it! we were the champions! What a feeling lifting the trophy. Later that night we had a reception. A meal was provided and the champagne was flowing and why not, it was the City of Rheims, famous for Champagne.
I then went on holiday with an Italian friend to Turin the next year and that set me off to play in Italy. Having left school with the required exams, I was working in Banking at The Midland Bank Manchester. After a couple of years I’d had enough, my thoughts were elsewhere. I went home one day from work and I said to my mum, ‘I’m going to play football in Italy.’ My mum and dad were completely shocked at first and quite rightly worried about me. I was such a young age and wanted to play abroad. I had such a determination to follow my dream that no one was going to change it. I had to reassure them in order for them to overcome the fears they had. In the year of 1973, I travelled to Paris by plane. My parents said their farewells at the airport, and I caught an overnight train from Paris Gare Du Nord to Torino (Porta Nuova). The scenery through France was something else and so picturesque, especially through the French Alps into Italy. In Torino, my Italian friend Valeria, met me at the train station. We immediately went to visit the President of Juventus at his home, where I met some of my new team mates. Initially I stayed with Valeria and her family in a small town outside Turin, called Ivrea. After a short time, I was moved to a Pension Hostel in the centre of Turin, Casa Fraterna, Via San Dominico. I absolutely loved this place. A hostel run by nuns and a place for young women to stay whilst working in Turin. They came from all over Italy. It was so vibrant especially the girls from the southern areas of Italy, such as Sicily and Naples. Meal times were amazing, the pace was buzzing with life, full of noise and chatter. This is where I learned to speak Italian plus many swear words! I shared my room with what turned out to be one of my best Italian friends, Carla Pivotto.
I must admit, football was so professional in Italy. The training so was intense but enjoyable. The amazing difference between playing in England and Italy was the Italians had a great emphasis on the importance of diet and healthy eating. The correct nutrition was necessary for stamina, health and growth. Football training was Tuesday evening and Saturday morning as we played our games on a Sunday. The club had its own house in Turin, with its own meeting room. It was furnished with clip boards regarding tactics and awareness. There were bedrooms for the teams to sleep or relax. We met here before we travelled to the games. Places I visited and played football in Italy, Milan, Piacenza, Bologna, Pescara, Rome and Naples. I loved Sicily; the team spent journeys looking for Mafia gangsters wearing white suites in the city of Palermo! I remember the team spending the weekend at a seaside resort at San Benedetto Del Tronto, Province of Ascoli. It was an ancient fishing village turned into a seaside retreat. We played and yes we won the game quite easy 4-0.
We also played against Lazio in Naples, where I played against Dorothy Cassells, an ex-Southampton player who also played in England at The Deal tournament.
Dot remembers: ‘I am from a family of three brothers and three sisters. Football was my life early on, but it was always with boys, I didn't play women’s football until I was 14/5. I was in the school team, as I was good enough and school could not not let me in.
I was one of four Southampton players picked to go over to Italy in 1969 with Harry Batt, including Barbara Birkett, Sue Buckett, Jill Long and Sue Lopez. We played teams the likes of Germany, The Netherlands, France and the Danish. The Italian teams were watching us, and Sue Lopez was invited to a charity, match at Turin, which was of a high quality, including signing for insurances. We played at the Stadio Olympico Grande Torino stadium in Turin, also home to professional club Juventus, alongside Maria Scevikcova, of Czechoslovakia and Birgit Nilsen of Denmark. Beat them 11-0 and I was called Il Topolino by the newspaper journalist Gianni Rivera.
In May 1971, after Southampton had won the inaugural WFA Cup competition, Sue Lopez left for Italy, having signed for Roma. I signed for a bottom of the league club called Trastevere, the oldest part of Rome. The club was very professionally run and was supported by Lubium, a men’s tailoring company and run by Mr Troii who ran an insurance company. I was approaching my eighteenth birthday and had starting a new job, and my sister’s 21 birthday was approaching and her engagement party. My parents had bought me a bracelet, and we exchanged this for a suitcase. It was quite a move for me to make. I had the phone call, and as I already spoke French I learnt Italian quite quickly. I lived in a flat owned by the club. The Lubium goalkeeper was always over and her family, Theresa Catallari Ribenzo. Then I played for Lazio, and it was a good standard. I loved Italy. It became a second nationality really, as I went back 30 years after leaving, and met her son. I spent 5 years in Germany and could not pick up the language. I also spent 3 weeks in Poland. I don't think Sue picked up the language. Jill Clements also came over for about six months, she went back and didn't return. She has since died of a brain tumour. Later Rose Reilly signed for Milan in 1973 and stayed.’
Jan resumes her story: ‘after the game we talked about our life in Italy and mainly about where we lived, our lifestyles and the food we liked or disliked. I ate Mortadella sandwiches a lot. I remember at that time in England we didn’t really appreciate the vast flavours, spices and herbs of foreign food; this came much later than 1973.
I spent two years playing football in Italy before coming home for family reasons in 1975.’
Dorothy Barnett’s story, Corinthian Ladies FC
Starting out I always wanted to play football. I used to play with my brother Bill who was a good footballer and played semi-pro. When I was fifteen I heard about a man in Bardsley, Mr Ashley, who was organising football teams (his daughter Doris, also played with us). Bardsley was a community not far from Ashton-under-Lyne where I lived so I went to see Mr Ashley and ended up playing on the first team as left full back.
Dot playing on the Benfica Stadium
Corinthians on Tour We travelled all over England and a bonus was that my parents got to travel with us. They would never have had this opportunity otherwise. I started playing for Corinthians when I was fifteen, and I think the first European trips were around 1956/ 1957. We played in Germany, in Berlin, and beat all the European teams we played. We were on the International News in the cinema about a two-minute clip and kept returning to see ourselves. We played under the charity the Red Cross. When I was 17 we travelled to Portugal. We went to Portugal twice, and met the great player, Eusebio, who I think was younger than us at the time! We travelled there by flying boat, The Sunderland as, at that time there was no airport in Lisbon. We stayed right on the beach and were there for five weeks. We also went to the Madeira Islands for one week. I have fond memories of rocking and rolling with the locals in the mountains. Looking back When you are young you take so much for granted but as I look back I remember how well we all got along, and how fortunate I was to be part of this. I think of it as the best times of my life. The team disbanded as there was an issue about money. We should have been receiving spending money and it was not forthcoming.
I was always sporty, and played boys games and loved football. I also played badminton, hockey, netball, and did trampolining. I am not sure how I heard about the Corinthians, but my parents went for an interview with Percy Ashley off Fog Lane, in Didsbury and I remember that they were looking for a goalie, although I was really an outfield player, and I was accepted. I had to be fitted for football boots. We were not a particularly well-off family and my sister was not sporty so my Mum and Dad said, ‘You had better be serious about this’ as they stretched their finances to buy my boots. They were not regular season ticket holders or football fans either, although my Dad took me to Maine Road to see some top class football to encourage me and to see what to aspire to. I was serious! I would practice for hours, angles of shots and passes and returns with a tennis ball against a wall. I started playing for Corinthians aged fourteen when Doris Ashley was still playing. We always played for charity and it was usually a charity match against Nomads.
Funnily enough, I don’t remember the games as such. Maybe while I was playing I was one of those people who were ‘glad to be there.’ I can’t remember the scores and such. I became an outfield player at Corinthians and played centre half, although I wasn’t as skillful as in goal. I went on the tours to Morocco and Tunisia on a plane for the first time and was allowed by my school to go, during term time. It felt very prestigious, and quite important playing exhibition matches. I was fifteen at the time and had been on one foreign holiday to Switzerland. I was amongst the first at school to get a passport and I took the photos from the football tour to school to show my friends. The names of the places seemed exotic, Casablanca which people had heard about because of the film, Rabat, Hammamet and in all about five cities where we played in proper stadia, with large crowds and we were chaperoned to the grounds where we played. I remember the dry heat and the drums, and the Red Cross crescent. Then we prepared for the Reims tour. My Mum, Gladys, led the tour and she managed the team. My brother in law coached at Corinthians after Mum gave up as manager.
Gladys Aiken, Carol's Mum who managed the team for a while
I trained as a PE/French teacher at Coventry College of Education between 1969 and 1972 so training was difficult because I was also trying to do athletics, hockey, netball, rounders and volleyball. I’ve always been sporty and always loved travel, doing as much as I can now I am retired. In 1973/74 season I moved to Fodens, aged twenty-two as I felt that it would help with my ability and played in an WFA Cup Final then ended playing in 1975/6 season. This was the pinnacle of my career. I travelled to Sandbach by train. I played alongside England internationals like Sheila Parker and Sylvia Gore at Fodens. I had a partnership at the back with Sheila Parker who was a model professional and, by then, I could tell it was not going to be a career. I knew I wasn’t as good as Jeannie Allott who went, I think, to Holland and then to Juventus. In the WFA final itself against Southampton, we went by coach from Sandbach, with no particular send off from Fodens. We were not intimidated by them. Fodens scored first! With the great England international Sue Buckett in goal for Southampton, this gave us great confidence. I do remember getting a bollocking from Hazel Bancroft for giving away a free kick, but can’t remember why. It may have been extra time? Alison Leatherbarrow, the England defender, nick- named ‘Tiger’ also played. We were featured on TV when we won but again I can’t remember the broadcaster. Folks would say, ‘You won the FA Cup Final and I saw you on TV.’
Margaret Vaughan, ‘Griff’ Manchester Corinthian and £10 Pom
Griff has the ball at her feet.
Family and early football I was born Margaret Griffiths, andwhen we were young football was a big part of our lives. I was born in Ancotes. We did the Pools and Dad took us down to watch City and United once. When I was 2 ½ we moved to Clayton, but I still went to school in Ancotes. I played football in the street with the boys and had one younger brother. There weren’t girls’ teams and yet I loved football from a very young age. Mother said in a photograph taken when I was very young, about 1 ½ I sat on a table and there was a prop ball, a beach ball, and wouldn't settle for the photograph until I got the ball. I left school at fifteen and worked as a sewing machinist in the rag trade, as we called it. I was not particularly academic, I was the physical one. In the end I worked in the office and then my own business.
Becoming A Corinthian Like everyone else, I saw an advertisement in the paper and went down to Fog Lane for a trial. Our formation was an attacking style with five at the back, so the wingers could get forward. Percy was technically strict about how we should play and overlap. He would give us individual instruction on our role.
Corinthians Overseas Tours I have photographs with no dates on them, many featuring aeroplanes because I had not flown until then. We went to Portugal and Madeira by sea-plane. We took a coach down South and didn't have an airport, as such. We were not warned about the plane, we just sort of got on with it, and next stop Portugal. As well as visiting Portugal twice, I did the South American tour, Belfast, the Isle of Man and Italy. Obviously the cable car and the military coup in Venezuela at Varacas stood out as memories, and the Humboldt Hotel was fantastic. When I came back, not only was it the first time I had been on a Jumbo Jet, I was the only person in the street who had been on a plane, except for men who had fought in the war, so for working class people we had once in a lifetime opportunities. In South America we travelled on one of those planes with single seats and parachute wires, you just got on to find a bucket behind a curtain at one end. We didn't know until we got on. All these were new experiences, and you couldn't lose face, you just got on with it. We did so much flying. When we went to the Isle of Man, I though we were crashing because we had no sooner took off than we were coming down, and were only minutes in the air. I thought, what’s going on? Plus after the game it was a normal scheduled flight, so we had to rush to get back on the plane, as they wouldn't wait for anyone. On another occasion we were on a coach going through the desert, and all there was the whole trip was a caravan selling drinks of orange, coca cola or water. That was it.
Griff has the ball at her feet.
In New York I had fallen asleep on the plane, going to South America after we had changed planes at JFK, and the propeller had flames coming out of it so we had to turn back. I had to be woken up or I’d have slept through it. There was a big bar like you saw in the films at the airport and we had something to eat and drink. A Mexican family, I think they were, had a baby at the airport. When we took off again we sort of ran out of runway and went on the grass and had to walk back and Mr Ashley was not very happy with that. We stayed over a few days and I didn't really like it. I remember the sun did not reach the street. I was shocked. I knew skyscrapers were high, but not that high. We went to the top of the Empire State. We didn't go in but we saw where Audrey Hepburn had Breakfast at Tiffany’s. There were a lot of rough sleepers which we had not seen in Manchester. We had tramps but they moved around, not sleeping on the streets. One girl, I remember, at the hotel in New York, could not get over the televisions in the rooms and she watched 24 hours of Elvis on television, as she didn't have a set at home.
A £10 Pom I played for Corinthians until 1965 but I didn't go on the Tunisia tour because on New Year’s Day 1966 I went to Australia as a £10 Pom. I had always wanted to go because when at school we had done topics like Geography, I had looked at Australia on the map and wanted to go. When I was out there, I played for a team in Perth, organized by English and Irish girls but it wasn't very competitive. There were five English players, a South African, a German, Italian. I think it changed to something else later. In 1967 I played netball too and had by then moved to Sydney. There was the Metropolitan Soccer Association, in Sydney and I have quite a few programmes. I lived the outdoor life all right. The name of the club Sydney Prague, came from the original players who had originally come from Prague. My friend Pat Redmond, as she was called then, chose to stay, and settled there but I came back. In December 1969 I came back because I either had to stay or become Australian. My parents were getting older, and I went down to see the Corinthians but I wasn't really interested by 1970, as the magic of the old days had gone.
After football and military service In June 1970 I joined the army and really enjoyed it. I trained as a cook and they gave you lots of training, as well as you living in. I did the Catering corps training at Guidlford, and was going to Aldershot. London was so convenient, just nip to the Post Office and Mill Hill was lovely. In the end I got posted to Germany, where I met my husband at a listening camp where we had elite working conditions, at Munchengladbach, near the Dutch border. We married on 12 October 1974 and would just nip over the border on nights out, it was a great time….
Australian Women’s Football and Migration Trixie Tagg who began playing with Sydney Prague from 1967 remembers Margaret and Pat Redmond, arriving, both very good players. Trixie has very kindly shared this photograph of Sydney Prague in 1967 with Margaret on the back row, second from right, and Pat is third from the right on the front row, kneeling.
With thanks to Trixie Tagg.
Why Sydney Prague? Heather Reid tells me about some of the pioneers of women’s football in Australia at the time when Margaret was visiting:
‘The cultural diversity within the early pioneer teams wasn’t that great – mainly limited to daughters from families who emigrated from the UK and our home grown girls.
Football developed quickly in the 1970s in Perth, West Australia with British and some European migrant populations (mainly Russian and Italian) supporting women’s participation but this was mainly due to individuals at the clubs. Players like the Kozak sisters and a young player, Anna Senjuschenko emerged at this time with Anna being a stand-out at the first 1978 international games for Australia in Taiwan but sadly she was killed in a car crash the following year.
The east coast was a bit different as the most football hubs that were created by Greeks (eg. Hellas and Olympic), Italians (Juventus, APIA, Azurri) and Balkan states like Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia but many did not welcome girls. For many of those clubs, the best thing for girls and women to do on Saturdays was folk dancing, and on Sundays they went to church or did family things.
Where girls teams did exist under these clubs they were more often populated by European players. Sharon Mateljan was a stalwart but her maiden name was Loveless. We’ve had players such as Mariana Milovanovic (1980s), Diane Alagich (1990s), Angela Iannotta (1990s) and more recently players like de Vanna, Khamis, Polias, Gielnik and Logarzo, but nothing like the multi-cultural dimension that’s been obvious in our men’s national teams – often populated by ‘iches’ like Juric, Zelic, Popovic, Krncevic, Milicic, Kalak, Viduka etc. Overall, however, our national women’s teams have not reflected the cultural diversity we have in Australia, including Indigenous Australians, with the exception of Lydia Williams and Kyah Simon, so there’s definitely plenty to explore and write about in this regard.’