Image: Lynda Hale, first one on the back row, before the first international game against Scotland in 1972.
Recalling The Developments In Women’s Football From The First Women’s International Up To This Year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019
An interview with ex-England Women’s Footballer Lynda Hale reveals the changes that she has witnessed in the sport.
On the 9th June 2019, England Lionesses will face Scotland in their FIFA Women’s World Cup - Group D clash. This meeting comes nearly 47 years after the sides met in, what was, each nation’s first international women’s fixture. Played out at Ravenscraig Stadium, in Greenock, Scotland, the international friendly took place on 18th November 1972. Scotland took charge with two early goals, but England came back to win 3-2. Hampshire-born Lynda Hale scored one for England on that day. In this interview she recalls the occasion and discusses how things have changed for the Lionesses at this year’s tournament.
Born and raised in Southampton, Hale was called up to the England squad from playing for Southampton Women’s FC. “There was four of us from the team who got letters in the post, asking us to play. We had won the FA Cup on multiple occasions so we were one of the top women’s teams.”
At the time, the Women’s Football Association (‘WFA’) in England had a huge advantage in 1972, having been inaugurated in 1969 and already with a pool of nearly 200 teams to select players from. Meanwhile, the Scottish WFA was not formally recognised by the Scottish Football Association until 1974. At the time they had a pool of just six women’s teams to select players from.
Hale says she has a blurry memory of the game itself, she just remembers scoring! Although, she does remember the attitude towards the game being very negative, “It was nothing like it is today. It was all ‘hush-hush’ like women shouldn’t be doing it”.
Women, without the financial support of the men’s game, had to finance performance themselves. Hale worked as a traffic warden, “We had to use our annual holiday leave in order to play… We had to buy all of our kit and equipment ourselves.”
With the increasingly positive social attitudes, women’s football is achieving higher investment and increasingly large amounts of publicity. This year’s broadcasting of the FIFA World Cup France 2019 is expected to reach a record viewership of up to 1 billion viewers globally.
“For the league teams, we would get a little bit of publicity in the local papers but generally people didn’t want to accept it”, Hale said.
Lynda Hale did not retire from playing until 40 years of age. She progressed to coach and manage Southampton Women’s team as well as the reserve team, Solent Women’s. She also went on to coach local male teams.
Having been involved in Women’s Football for so long, she has seen a number of changes, “[The biggest changes I have seen are] The fact that its accepted. The publicity women get now and the money”. She says “She would just like to have been born now”.
Obviously this is a glowing report for the progress that has been made in Women’s football over the past 47 years, hence why the fixture on June 9th is expected to be such an exciting occasion.
Thanks go to Lynda Hale for her insights, she says she will be watching on Sunday as the Lionesses kick off their FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 campaign with the fixture that she made history in nearly five decades ago!