Tuktuk Day 33

I have been speaking to Clare McEwen on FB over the past week or so. A very interesting lady who has written a book about the Lionesses and you can have a free copy.

I will let her tell her own story.

“A Girl In Love With the Beautiful Game

Hi, I’m Clare and I fell in love with football when I was about 9-years-old. I’ll be honest, I don’t remember the exact moment the beautiful game touched my heart because that was nearly 40 years ago. But I do remember the moment I got my very own proper football. And the moment I put on my first pair of football boots (Golas for those who remember them). I was already in love with the game by then but these prizes sealed the deal.

Me with my first boots and ball. Around 1985. That haircut though.

There were no opportunities (that I’m aware of) for girls football in deepest, darkest Cornwall in the early 1980s. Heck, there isn’t even a professional men’s team in Cornwall now. But there was football to be had for a determined “tomboy”. At every opportunity, I’d be playing in the local park or the school playground with my mates, but I was always miffed that they’d get to go off for weekend matches and I was left with a hole in my football calendar.

I did the natural thing and recruited some of my girl friends to create our own team – Girls United. It was destined to fail: I knew nothing about football teams, there were only five of us (at best) and I had slight megalomaniac tendencies. I was the central midfielder, captain, manager, and general know-it-all – I imagine everyone got fed up with me quite quickly! Nonetheless for a few beautiful weeks we met on a Saturday afternoon to plan our rise to world domination.

The rest of the week I played headers and volleys in the park or Wembley at school. I will be forever grateful to my male mates for allowing me to join in. As weird as that may sound now, without their support, I wouldn’t have got to play at all. Good job I was deemed “good enough” to join in!

The 10-year-old me –  who pretended to be Bryan Robson or Marco van Basten – has sprung to mind a lot in recent years. I was at Wembley with my husband and son in November 2019 when England’s women played Germany in front of a then record crowd. I spent much of the game trying not to let tears of joy spring forth from my eyes. It was such an emotional moment to see the Lionesses welcomed out in front of a packed stadium. A moment 10-year-old me could literally only dream of. Those dreams of scoring at Wembley when I was kicking around in the park, trees for goalposts, were a reality for these women. Mind-blowing.

Similar feelings resurfaced when England’s Lionesses lifted the 2022 Euros trophy. Pride, joy, almost disbelief at what I was seeing. The enormous journey from when I was a girl in the 1980s to where the women’s game is now. It’s hard to explain the feelings. And they fizz up inside me every time I watch a women’s football match.  If I’m honest, there’s a little jealousy mixed in there too – a bit of disappointment for all the 10-year-old girls who missed out. 

Women’s football is so much more visible now, but it has always been there. I wish I’d known that when, at 10, I thought I was the only one.

Now I’m writing a book on the history of women’s football so everyone knows how it has grown both in England and throughout the world. The stories, the struggles, the amazing women and men who fought against the governing bodies, defying bans, battling disrespect, and suffering abuse. 

The stories are often remarkable and, for me, poignant. More than one lone woman started a team by writing to the local paper looking for players – I wish I’d thought of doing that. I wish I’d been brave enough. 

I’m about halfway through writing the first draft of my book and am constantly inspired by the stories and struggles. Women’s football is not an overnight success, it’s been grafting away for almost as long as men’s football. It was banned for 50 years and scuppered at every turn for decades after that. My book will map out its rise to visibility and bring some of the individual stories to life.

If you’d like to follow my author journey and learn about some of the trailblazers of women’s football, I have a fortnightly newsletter. As a thank you for subscribing you’ll be able to download my mini book, “A Brief History of England’s Lionesses” for free. Sign up here: https://subscribepage.io/uZWNmQ

As always, I hope that you will consider a donation however small to support FC Deportivo Galicia and/or Prostate Cancer UK If everybody chipped in £1 I would easily hit my target of £10,000 and life would be easier in West London whilst the charity continued their great work. A HEARTFELT thanks, if you can. If you can’t you can still help massively by sharing this page about the work of Prostate Cancer. Thanks

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