The local newspaper front page which shows just what women’s football has had to overcome

The front page of a local newspaper from 1998 made a surprise return to the limelight this week — thanks to the success of the England womens football team in Euro 2022.

The front page of the Bucks Herald from September 1998 featured a nine-year-old girl called Ellen who, along with other young female players, had been banned from competing in leagues for boys.

Perhaps using Ellen’s full name — Ellen White — will give you a clue as to why the story proved to be so relevant this week. Yes, the same Ellen White who led the Lionesses to victory over Germany in the final of Euro 22 at Wembley last weekend.

Local musician Scott Ottaway shared a photo of the front on Twitter, adding: “The local paper, @bucks_herald from 1998. I remember it well. Wonder if Ellen carried on playing?”

Ellen’s dad John at the time was the chairman of Aylesbury Town Football club. The row over whether Ellen could play in the boys league erupted after she netted 100 goals in the previous season, only for her registration to the Chiltern Youth League to be rejected.

At the time, John said: “The league seems to be stuck in mediaeval times.

“Women’s football is the fastest growing sport and they should be going along with what the FA is saying and allow girls to play mixed football.”

When the CYL was approached for comment at the time, its chairman Chris Davidson said: “The club has the right to appeal, they have not done that yet. The appeal could go either way. If they win the appeal, we would have to accept the girl and we would be prepared to do that.”

How times have changed. Fast forward to 2022, and this is the most recent tweet from the CYL:

Bucks Herald reporter Jamie Lowson wrote: “ Aylesbury has long since embraced its most famous athlete.

“An Aylesbury Town Council spokesperson described her as ‘outstanding’.

“She has been immortalised in an mural which can be viewed on the High Street.

“In 2016 she was made a Honorary Freewoman of the Parish of Aylesbury by town council officials.”

In 2019, when the Lionesses played in the World Cup in France, the Herald shared pictures and articles of their coverage of Ellen as a seven-year-old.

She “showed the boys how it was done,” said the paper at the time.

  • In 2022, Behind Local News aims to celebrate local journalism in all its forms through our 365 Acts of Local Journalism Project. Lets us know what you think should be included. You can email us here or contact us via Twitter on BehindLocalNews or on Facebook here.

>> See the series so far, here

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