FC Redstar team (1988-89)

FC Redstar squad during the 1988-89 season.

To continue our exhibition highlighting some of the women who played football in Trafford, this week’s focus is on FC Redstar.

FC Redstar was established in 1985 by a collection of Manchester United women’s team players. At the time, United’s women’s team were competing in a Greater Manchester-based league and some of the players felt that the club should leave to join the North West Women’s League instead.

Manchester United, however, were committed to their existing league, so several players broke away and established their own team instead. Two of these players, Jane Morley and Bev Harrop, have been interviewed as part of our oral history project into the history of women’s football in Trafford. Bev recalls, ‘We were ambitious and wanted to play at a higher level. That couldn’t happen at the time with United so we set up FC Redstar instead.’

Redstar initially played in Miles Platting, but soon moved to the Kendal Sports Centre in Stretford. In her interview, Jane states,

The facilities there were great but we had to play our games at 11am on a Sunday because the pitch was already booked for men’s football. It was a great place to be based though and the fact we were doing it for ourselves was important. We’d set up our own team and we were playing in the North West Women’s League against some of the best teams in the country. We won promotion and faced teams like Leasowe Pacific – a really significant club based on Merseyside at the time.

It wasn’t until 1987 that Redstar achieved promotion to the top division in the North West Women’s League. Back then, a national league structure was not in place and so this was the highest level available to any club in the region. The Women’s FA Cup was in existence, however other aside from that, opportunities for all women’s clubs were limited to regional competitions. The North West region was particularly strong with prominent teams in Crewe, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, and across Lancashire.

While playing in Stretford, FC Redstar put on some great performances and competed at the same level as some of the game’s true greats. Bev states, ‘We just wanted to play football at the best level we could. I’m quite proud of what we achieved.’

Despite their significance at the time, FC Redstar had issues recruiting players. In her interview, Jane recalls,

It was all friends of friends. We found players through our own contacts. We entered and won the first ever women’s tournament organised by Manchester City’s City In The Community staff but shortly after that City themselves created their own women’s team. That kind of support from a major men’s club was unusual at the time and, inevitably, the facilities they had and support the women received seemed so much better. We ended up losing players to the new club.

Redstar continued until 4March 1990, when they withdrew from the Second Division of the North West Women’s Regional Football League and Bev went on to be a significant player for many years with Manchester City. Jane states,

My playing days were coming to an end but I did go on to manage City myself. In fact, I was their manager at the time they first played home games at Flixton FC in Urmston.

For both Jane and Bev, the establishment, and the impact of FC Redstar will never be forgotten. They are rightly proud of setting up the club and of competing against many long established and prominent teams.

Detail of 1988 Match Programme between FC Redstar and Lady Blues

FC Redstar lineup, from match programme between FC Redstar and Lady Blues (1988).