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Stafford footballers recreate image of earliest women's team during Euro 2022

Back of the net! Footballers have recreated the first-ever photograph of a women’s team to mark the Euros tournament.

The original image of The British Ladies’ FC in 1895, formed by captain and pioneer Nettie Honeyball, inset below
The original image of The British Ladies’ FC in 1895, formed by captain and pioneer Nettie Honeyball, inset below

Stafford Soccer Mums were selected to re-enact the image as part of a photo series from The National Lottery to celebrate the event.

The players, who train at Stafford Football Club’s Evans Park, was started in 2016 by a group of friends after watching their sons and daughters take part in the sport.

The club has since gone from strength to strength – with more than 50 active members competing in more than 30 leagues – leading them to be picked for the image.

The players were invited to join footballer and singer-songwriter Chelcee Grimes for the photograph paying homage to the trailblazers of the women’s game.

Back is Kez Meekings (centre) and Zoe Parker next to her. Front - fourth in Ellie Roberts, Katie Charlsworth, Caz Hopkins

The original image features one of the first known women’s teams, The British Ladies’ FC in 1895, which was formed by captain Nettie Honeyball, who is widely considered a pioneer of women’s football and the early feminist movement. Their first game was played in Crouch End, North London, in front of a crowd of 10,000 people.

In the original match, the players wore buttoned-up blouses and billowing bloomers and players would have only owned one pair of boots, which had to be heeled to ensure they weren’t considered to be breaking the Victorian standards of decency.

But fast forward 125 years and the women’s game couldn’t look more different, with National Lottery players helping to invest more than £50 million into football in ways which benefit the women and girls’ game. This investment includes funding specific programmes as part of the Women’s Euros legacy, as well as supporting the sport’s return after Covid-19 and other initiatives to inspire females to play the game.

Kerry Meekings, one of the Soccer Mums who took part in the photo recreation, said: “It was so enjoyable to take part in recreating this iconic image – outfits aside perhaps! As a grassroots team, to be involved in the Women’s Euros is amazing for us, we’re so happy about the progression the game has made which is why it is all the more important to remember and look pack on where it all started.

“Stafford Soccer Mums was started a few years ago, just from a group of like-minded mums who wanted to play football after watching our sons and daughters play week in and week out. Thanks to funding from The National Lottery, we’ve been able to progress and grow our club with more and more ladies. The opportunity to play football makes a massive difference to all our lives. It’s a stress release, and we have a one big football family thanks to the support we’ve received.”

Nettie Honeyball

Chelcee Grimes, who has played for Liverpool, Fulham and Mersyside Ladies, said she hoped the image will make people interested in the individuals who “helped tackle prejudice and progress the sport”.

She said: “Nettie Honeyball and her team were true trailblazers of their time. I’ve been playing for a team since I was a young girl and even in my short tenure, the game has come on a very long way indeed.

“I’m really passionate about getting more women and girls paying the game so it’s great to see The National Lottery is investing at the grassroots level to support the next generation of players. Sport really has the power to bring people together and grass-roots clubs and organisations play such a vital role in giving young people the time and space to realise their full potential.”

The Euros tournament is currently well under way, with England already through to the group stage ahead of last night’s match aganst Northern Ireland.

The national side has attracted sold out crowds to all of their games.

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