A member of the original 1972 Lionesses believes they deserve an apology from the Football Association for failing to award them official caps and forgetting about them for half a century.
In interviews with former players who played in England’s first official women’s game 50 years ago Yo revealed how they felt hurt that their exploits had been forgotten by the FA and were angry that they had never received official caps like their male counterparts.
Most of the team were instead given replica caps handmade by Flo Bilton, an officer at the Women’s Football Association. But Jeannie Allott, a winger in the team, told Yo that she was given only a white plastic football bag to carry their boots. “Can you imagine Bobby Charlton getting that?” she said.
Allott was 16 years old when she made her England debut in the inaugural game against Scotland in November 1972. She was from Crewe and did not have the money to pay for travel to London for matches and training and recalls hitchhiking the journey. She once slept at Waterloo Station when she was unable to hitch a ride home.
“I got in a lorry, a milk cart, anything that was going down to London,” Allott, 66, said. “The things we do for the England team.
“That’s why it’s frustrating. What we went through to get women’s football where it is today. Nothing that happened in the past should be forgotten but the FA forgot us. We want a cap and I believe we deserve an apology.
“We didn’t have equal rights in those days. It was a shame. Some in the FA didn’t agree with ladies football. It was a man’s world.”
Allott appeared in Sports Illustrated when she was eight years old, the only girl playing for Wistaston Green Primary School. She went on to play for Fodens, a women’s team created by the lorry manufacturing plant Foden Trucks in nearby Sandbach, and won the Women’s FA Cup in 1974.
When she was 17, Allott moved to the Netherlands and played for several teams including alongside current England women’s manager Sarina Wiegman for KFC. Allott played on the left and Wiegman on the right.
“She was a very good footballer,” Allott said. She’s like Glenn Hoddle. Ella she had the technique and the brains. Ella she’s donated a lot for ladies football. ”
Allott even switched allegiance to play for the Netherlands, scoring eight times in 12 games. “I felt more appreciated there,” she said. “They paid for everyone’s travel costs, no matter where you lived.” She had offers to play professionally in Germany but decided to stay in Holland, where she has lived and worked as a shipping planner ever since.
despues de Yo‘s reportage was raised in the House of Commons by Labor MP Barbara Keeley, the FA pledged to give official caps to all former Lionesses.
“It has always been our intention to invite all former internationals to attend an England Women’s fixture in the autumn where they will be honoured,” an FA spokesperson said, “and we are also committed to awarding them with bespoke caps.”
Allott revealed that the 1972 Lionesses have been writing to one another to ensure they all know that they will be awarded a cap later in the year. “Everyone found everyone,” she said. “One girl was in Australia. I was the last 1972 player to be found.”
But Sylvia Gore, who scored England’s first ever official goal in the Scotland match, has sadly passed away. “She’s in heaven without that cap and this makes me so sad. It was not necessary,” Allott said. “She was fighting for it.
“The rest of us all can’t wait to pick up our caps. But we’ve got to wait for the invitation. It would mean the world to me to be appreciated for what we did for England. It’s fantastic what’s happening now but don’t forget the girls who started it off for you. We played for England and set the ball rolling.”