MANCHESTER UNITED

Manchester United Ladies celebrating in 1980s

Manchester United Ladies celebrating in 1980s

The original Manchester United Ladies team was established via the United Supporters’ Club and played its first game in October 1977, against a team from Ireland. In 1986, while looking back on this period, manager Anne Smith joked: ‘Our standard of football was not very high. It couldn’t have been as I was playing!’

Over the course of the next two years, the club played a number of friendlies until, in 1979, the team joined the long-established Three Counties League and the Women’s Football Association (FA). Anne Smith was one of the leading figures within the club, and became manager around this time.

Publicity in the men’s United match programme encouraged other women to join the club and in their first season of league football they finished sixth. The Three Counties League covered a large geographic area and travel to games was difficult, so Anne and the United committee worked with others to create a local league. The Women’s FA gave permission to establish the Greater Manchester Women’s Football League with its first season of operation being 1982-83.

United Ladies won the competition in its first three seasons and the club remained a leading team in the region for many years. Jane Morley, who is currently the secretary of Stockport County Ladies, was a player for many years:

‘As a United men’s supporter it was great to play for the original women’s team. Wearing the red of United and training at the Cliff was really great and we were a strong team too. We were very successful in the Greater Manchester Women’s League. The two strongest clubs were ourselves and Wythenshawe and games between the two were real tests. Wythenshawe were our main rivals.’

During her time with the team Jane remembers playing at the Old Trafford stadium once: ‘There was a men’s testimonial game and we were asked to play on the pitch as part of the day’s events. That was something special for us all.’

The club continued to develop during the 1980s and 1990s, officially forming part of Manchester United by 2001. However, the club disbanded in 2005.

In 2018, a new Manchester United women’s team was established and this team went on to win the Championship in 2019. United women have been a formidable challenger in the FA Women’s Super League ever since.

 

 

Manchester United Ladies celebrating in 1980s
MANCHESTER UNITED