"White shoes to a football match!": Female experiences of football's golden age in England

  • Stacey Pope University of Bedfordshire
  • John Williams University of Leicester
Keywords: Female, Football fans, Golden age, Oral history, Soccer, Stadium cultures


Although many British historians claim that English football in the post-World War II period was substantially the passion of working-class men, oral history accounts also reveal a largely hidden history of active female sports fans, women who keenly followed football. These female fans often faced opposition from fellow supporters and from other women. In many ways, academic research on sports fandom has worked to omit serious discussion of the role of women. Taken from a wider project aimed at making more visible the historical experiences of female spectators in sport in Britain, this paper draws on interviews with 16 older female fans of the Leicester City football club based in the East Midlands in England. It explores their experiences in the so-called golden age of the game with regard to the football stadium, styles of female support, and relationships with and perceptions of football players. Via oral history research, the paper offers a wider context for understanding the sporting experiences of female fans. But it also analyzes and explicates the meaning of sport in the lives of female fans during a period when football players were paradoxically glamorous and unobtainable local figures, but also, in some contexts, still accessible, ordinary members of local communities.

Author Biographies

Stacey Pope, University of Bedfordshire
Lecturer Department of PE and Sports Studies University of Bedfordshire
John Williams, University of Leicester
Senior Lecturer Department of Sociology University of Leicester