Hornsey Journal’s Scathing Comments on the First Official Women’s Football Match in 1895

Hornsey Journal, 30 March 1895

The much talked of football match between British ladies has been played and the world has not moved an inch out of its orbit. There was an enormous gathering, the number probably approached ten thousand. 

There was a great curiosity as to the ability of females to play football and between three and four o’clock the procession along Park Road to Nightingale Lane was close and continuous.    

There were twenty two ladies engaged in the match between the North and the South but there was only one player and she was a boy. The North had the advantages of his services and the North won by seven goals to one. The play was very funny. The ball was pursued with the heavy lumbering run of the sylph-like girlhood and when caught was kicked with the gentleness with which a loving mother spanks her too exuberant first-born. The courtesy of the players was extreme.

If, as has been asserted, this football match is an outcome of the ambition of the New Woman, it should be sufficient to teach her one of her limitations. As a display of football, it was execrable. Not a school team in the neighbourhood but could outplay the ladies at every point.  As a sport therefore it was a distinct failure and those who were tempted to the field by their love of sport alone must have sadly felt that they had wasted their time and money.

Nothing could be said against the appearance of the players. Attired in their loose black knickerbockers and blouses of red or of two shades of blue, the teams looked attractive enough and it would be difficult for the most earnest prude on the prowl to attempt to prove that the dresses were immodest.

But as regards this whole exhibition it is impossible to condemn it too strongly. While it showed that there may be no harm in football played by girls in a girlish way in their own playgrounds, as a public exhibition to which anybody is admitted on payment of a shilling nothing is more degrading. Had the play been so skilful as to become the dominating factor in the proceedings some justification might have been argued. It was not an exhibition of football but an exhibition of sex. To say that the lady footballers have made themselves the objects of good-humoured, if contemptuous, ridicule is to say the best that their performance permits.


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