16th March 2023
We love discovering sports memorabilia with great stories. Recently we acquired one of Just Fontaine’s commemorative watches, which fills exactly that brief. The wristwatch is inscribed to dial “Just Fontaine. World Record 13 goals 1958-1998”. Fontaine, French football legend, presented one of these watches to each of the twenty two members of the French 1958 […]
19th January 2023
When we sent out our first New Stock Catalogue of the year, we realised it had been a while – too long! – since our last one in September. We reflected on the sporting legends we had lost just since September – way too many. We thought we’d like to make at least brief mention […]
22nd December 2022
How proud would these pioneers of women’s football from 1918 be to see England’s Lionesses perform in the Women’s Euros 2022?!
When this Scottish women’s team played in 2018, they would have rightly believed they had already come far. Despite attempts to set up and build up women’s football in the nineteenth century, it was World War One that gave women’s footballers the push they needed. Up until then, too many people still believed that football was still very much a man’s game and women playing it was viewed as unseemly.
In World War One, however, many women worked together in factories for the first time. They were encouraged to keep fit for work. So they banded together to form football teams and fill the football stadiums that the men had left behind them as they went off to fight. By 1920 a Boxing Day football match between England’s top female teams, Dick, Kerr Ladies v St Helen’s, filled Everton’s Goodison Park stadium with 10,000 turned away at the gates.
But women’s football became a victim of its own success. Feeling threatened, possibly, by the success of women’s football and what effect that might have on men’s football after World War One, the FA issued a ban on 5th December 2021. No member club could let women’s teams play on their grounds. They claimed that women’s teams had siphoned off money they raised for charity for their expenses. They encouraged some doctors’ views that playing football might be bad for a woman’s body and might even stop a woman becoming pregnant.
The FA stuck to its edict. In 1947 the Kent County FA suspended a referee because he also trained a women’s football team. It was only in 1971 that the FA finally lifted their ban against women’s football. How we’d love to go back and tell all those women footballers, who persevered despite all obstacles, that in 2022 the BBC delayed the News at 10 so that we could all watch the end to another thrilling Lionesses’ game (depending on how far back we went, we might have a struggle explaining the BBC’s News at 10 first!).
Enjoy a great image of 1957 Chelsea football players being led on a training walk by their then coach, Arthur Tennant. We love this press photograph – a fantastic time capsule and snapshot of a Chelsea football team, who probably felt reasonably confident that they were on the up and up by that point. They had enjoyed their first major trophy success a couple of years earlier by winning the League Title in 1955. In 1957 they were preparing to debut at their first European competition: the 1957-58 Inter-Cities Fair Cup. Chelsea had in fact been invited to their first European competition two years earlier in 1955. The French football magazine, L’Equipe, had invited them to take part in the inaugural 1955 UEFA European Cup. The Football League blocked Chelsea’s participation, however. They felt the tournament would be a distraction to domestic football!
The young and ambitious Ted Drake had been managing Chelsea since 1952 and by 1957 he had remodelled Chelsea football club and its players significantly. Drake had brought in successful, new signings and improved the youth set up. He changed the club’s image fundamentally too – gone was the old ‘Pensioners’ crest. In came the rebranded ‘Blues’. Perhaps this press photograph is part of that rebranding? A jaunty shot of the ‘Blues’ on a training walk in their training kit and very cool, uniform trainers!
It’s fascinating to see how freely the players were able to walk through central London with little sense of being mobbed by the public. It’s also amazing to see the children watching the players as they pass by – what child would be able to stand atop the embankment wall with his/her back to the Thames now?!