Have women ruined football?

Posted on October 9th, 2009 | 68 Comments |

england_football_fa_508733aSaturday afternoon was traditionally an escape for most male football fans. A chance to meet up with the lads, have a few drinks, and let off steam by vociferously informing the manager or referee exactly how to do his job. This was male territory away from wives and girlfriends, a chance to have a good shout, swear as much as you wanted and get it all off your chest. Well those times have changed but have they changed for the better? Football seems to be rarely played at 3pm on a Saturday due to the power of the media, and the very make up of the crowd has also changed. Where previously the crowd was 95% male, the increasing presence of female football supporters is changing the ‘face’ of football (excuse the pun). My question, is this a good thing or not for the average male fan?

I must admit during the hooligan filled parts of the 80’s, as a female football fan, my passion for attending the game did wane. Who wants to go to watch a football match, especially some of the football we were playing, and face serious injury because of a few mindless thugs who didn’t care who they attacked? The conditions were atrocious, threats of violence everywhere, the terrible Bradford fire and Heysel disasters adding to the unattractive and down right dangerous side of football.

As new regulations were passed and modern, comfortable stadia were developed, the threat of violence receeded, and the game was marketed more sucessfully so more female fans started watching football and attending matches. Recent research has demonstrated a dramatic increase in the number of women attending Premiership football matches, while more than one in five season ticket holders at some championship clubs are women.

The research estimates that if the current rate of growth continues, nearly a third of those attending Premiership matches within four years’ time will be women. I’m not sure that is true sounds like the typical market research extrapolation of figures, but certainly female fans are on the increase. Potentially good news for the clubs as their fan base and revenue stream broadens, but what about the male football fan? Has the advent of so many females changed your behaviour when attending the match? Do you feel more restricted in what you shout or how you act? Has it negatively impacted on your enjoyment of attending the match?
Most female fans are aware of sexism within the game. The ‘I bet you only watch football to ogle the players legs etc’comments, the patronising glances from certain men as you start to discuss the team, but that’s all a given it goes with the territory and is only to be expected. Most female fans I come into contact with don’t want to be treated differently, and certainly don’t believe their sex is an important factor in relation to their identity as a fan. Most female fans actually like the game as it is, and one concern about attracting more female spectators to football is that doing so might result in a reduction in the ‘atmosphere’ at matches. You go to the game expecting the swearing, the rude singing etc as it is part and parcel of the match. The appeal of football is the same regardless of gender. Feeling sick when you’re winning, the frustration of team selections, the euphoria of a win, and the depression when everything goes pear shaped.

It is embarrasing to listen to some fellow females attending the game who clearly haven’t got a clue what they are talking about when it comes to football, but then I guess a reasonable number of men spout out various levels of tripe as well.

Gabby Logan (Toon fan and daughter of Terry Yorath of Leeds United) is doing a great job in helping to change people’s views of female football fans as she presents on key football events, on the negative side I listened to the woman commentator on 5 live commentating on one of our games a few weeks ago and she was pretty hopeless. But that’s the same with men. As we see more females playing football, and more match officials of the female variety, the face of the game is being changed forever?

So has the match experience been impacted negatively for you, or is it just all part and parcel of the new face of the game?

NUFCBlog Author: geordie deb geordie deb has written 38 articles on this blog.

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68 Responses

  1. LOL – Batty I knew you or Komfort would say that! I remember you commenting once that your wife is a keen fan.

  2. Deb,

    Just incidentally, did you know that back in the real old days, women’s football used to be huge? Top ladies teams used to get 10,000s for every game, just like the men did. It’s a hidden part of history that no-one seems to talk about nowadays.

  3. wasnt it gabby logan who was on commentary for our game a few weeks ago, whoever it was was totally hopeless worst commentator ive ever heard

  4. theres always the same loud woman who sits 2 rows up from me she makes me laugh at some of the abuse she shouts a think its stardust like lol

  5. Joseph

    No it wasn’t Gabby, it was the woman from radio 5 live sports extra can’t remember her name

  6. Batty you’ve really made ma laugh recently with some of the banter with Stardust – especially the accountant and miniature daschund thing

  7. Worky

    You’re right. When you go back to the early 20th century there used to be thousands of women attending matches apparently. It’s quite fascinating really as everyones perception is that feamle fans are a recent ‘acquisition’ to the game

  8. Gabby Logan (Toon fan

    She claims to support Newcastle United[5] stretching back to her time at Durham University, where her then boyfriend was a childhood fan. She remembers her first match as Newcastle’s 1-0 Premier League victory over Everton on 25 August 1993[6] and made visits by air or rail to St. James’ Park throughout the 1990s and early 2000s[5], including Newcastle’s 5-0 win over Manchester United on 20 October 1996. However, in the mid-2000s her affection for Newcastle United had started to wane, with Logan expressing misgivings over the departures of managers Bobby Robson in 2004 and Kevin Keegan in 2008, and dissatisfaction with recent lapses in player and manager discipline. She has not attended a Newcastle match since 2007 and also claims to have variously supported Leeds United, Coventry City, Tottenham Hotspur, Vancouver Whitecaps and Bradford City as a child.[6]

  9. workyticket says:
    October 9, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Just incidentally, did you know that back in the real old days, women’s football used to be huge? Top ladies teams used to get 10,000s for every game, just like the men did. It’s a hidden part of history that no-one seems to talk about nowadays.
    <<<<< aye but we didnt play it like you worky

  10. I used to know a big bull dyke called “Erica” (her lesbian name, not her real one) who used to go to Leeds games. She would drink like a fish, then gan around shouting abuse, start thumping big gadgies and all sorts!

  11. You know what really irritates me about wimmen at football matches? The girlie screams when the opposition are attacking. The thing is, it seems to be restricted to England games and you can only hear it when you are watching the game on the telly.
    When you are at SJP it’s all how man clobber him man. What yer deein taylor? Smash ‘is legs, etc…
    Watching England at home on telly is all “eeeeeeeeeeeee”, “whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayy” etc..

    As Harry Enfield and Chums once said – “WOMEN KNOW YOUR LIMITS!” ;-)

  12. Oh, forgot to say I blame it on students. It’s always the sad girlie students who want to be around the lads all the time. You know the ones I mean, the ones who would say take that are crap and napalm death are really musical just to hang out with some lads, hoping one of them will let her enjoy his company later.

    *disclaimer part*

    Obviously we have ordinary fans like wor deb, and there are ok as they are watching football for the right reasons, but I swear every world cup the bar just seems to be full of chinless lasses dressed in england tops pushing their breasticles up against any student bloke in there.

  13. batty says:
    October 9, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    “http://www.facebook.com/pages/Weymouth-United-Kingdom/KLONDYKE-KATE/76554328279 worky i know this woman from my time in stoke shes even been a couple of matches with me aboot 2o years ago she fights like a man”

    LOL. I bet she does batty. I wouldn’t like her landing on top of me!

  14. Sorry, in other news, has anyone got the new home kit since we were relegated? I’ve just had my Bobby Robson home shirt delivered and there are two horrible black squares on the arms where the CCC League patches are supposed to go. It really spoils the arms, I reckon, especially in the soft southerner long sleeve version that I have.

  15. No.

    As long as they are in cheerleader outfits or adhere to demands of “Get ya t*ts out for the lads! Get ya…”.

    Ownly kidding deb!

  16. I don’t care about lasses sitting near me at the match. They know the rules. The match is the one place I’m allowed to be loud, bad tempered, completely biased, opinionated, over-emotional and aggressive.

    My lass is like that every day so I think I’m allowed to be like that at the match.

  17. Not bothered one iota if women are at the match.

    Although some don’t like it when you swear, scream and shout.

    I mean this is Newcastle!

  18. Good article Deb – been sitting here thinking of what I really think – well placed and thought provoking.

    I have to admit I struggle with female commentators in football – but Gabby is a great compare. I am genuinely uncomfortable when they are girly and uninformed but a great commentator in any sport makes you concentrate on the game and enjoy it more – so no doubt my uncomfortableness in listening to it was matched by yours for the same or different reasons.

    Re women at the games – I am all for it – even as a youngster in the early 80s adults had no respect for us kids going to see the game – the language and menace (not to mention fights at Central Station and Marlborough Crescent) are things I am glad we have moved on from.

    The only thing I hope doesnt occur – a bit like England Internationals for the U18s is that the roar of the crowd doesnt turn high pitched – one of the noises that I hate lol.

    That aside I say its great to have a god mix at games – women have brought a lot to it – plus they are now far more family friendly and safer places to go – long may it continue.

  19. Anyone ever seen a footy match in Japan? It sounds like a bloody Take That concert…

  20. There are as many blokes at the match who are clueless and mute as there are women. It’s obviously relative like but those that make the effort to understand the game and the club are good craic.

    I remember one lass who I used to see travelling to games all over the place, including the likes of Monaco and other long trips. She was in a group who used to take a drum and stuff to games. I saw her when I was up in the Leazes Corner the other day. Still in amongst it. Can’t knock that sort of supporter, male or female.

  21. Nice one Geordie Deb there is nowt better than watching a few lass’s getting down and dirty and the shirts ripped of them lol. There used to be a Big girl went to matches with a group of us she was the 1st to start abusing the other team shouting and swearing that they were hung like an acorn, mind you she was even worse when she had a bag of glue.

  22. geordie deb says:
    October 9, 2009 at 3:00 pm


    You’re right. When you go back to the early 20th century there used to be thousands of women attending matches apparently. It’s quite fascinating really as everyones perception is that feamle fans are a recent ‘acquisition’ to the game”

    The First World War had alot to do with it Deb. The women who worked in the munitions factories slowly started turning into rumbustuous gadgies and they formed teams. ‘Dick, Kerr Ladies FC’ from Preston were supposedly one of the biggest. They had one or two big ladies teams in the North East too.

  23. Deb-

    Really great article!! Didn’t expect to see this when I checked the blog this morning and I believe it’s a great topic to discuss.

    That said- what the hell are you doing out of the kitchen, pet?!

    Pardon the cheeky joke. Anyway, I think that females should be welcomed with open arms into the football world, and taught to sing all the baudy songs and curse the referees and managers and opposing players and everyone else up, down, left, right, and inbetween. Matter of fact, women really should learn all of it and be just as into it all as the guys. I think the problem starts when people are expected to change generations of traditional behaviour (hooliganism excepted) to “accomodate” others. That takes the spirit and passion out of the game as far as I’m concerned.

  24. sheila wheeler says:
    October 9, 2009 at 4:49 pm
    stuart , can i have blouse back please.

    You’re going to have to explain that one Sheila?

  25. Thanks for the feedback guys – glad you enjoyed it. Some interesting comments you have all made. Now where is that cheerleaders outfit?..

  26. OHurley

    Not sure – but I’m off across the pond in the morning for a week to Minnesota, do will be a pseudo yank for a week

  27. OHurley – can’t speak for everyone but I’m on my way home and been busy all day!

  28. I’ve no problem with birds at the match, like most others have said the high pitched squeal is the only exception.

    Perhaps they could introduce something like boxing where a fit bird walks around with the round number card, they could have a fit bird with the stoppage time board instead of the 4th official!

  29. Was it Sepp Blatter that said women should play in tighter shirts?

    What a cock he is…

  30. To OHurley re post 38. I was born and bred in the NorthEast but have lived in the USA for 16 years and am a citizen over here, although I also keep my UK citizenship. Does that make me a Yank? I’m intrigued to know why you asked that question.
    Cheers, Jilly Bean

  31. sheila wheeler says:
    October 9, 2009 at 4:49 pm
    stuart , can i have blouse back please.



    Are you an accountant?

  32. To Big Dave, Yes I miss home a lot but I’m lucky enough to usually get back once or twice a year for a visit. I’m really enjoying this site and love reading the banter. Sigh..it reminds me of home. The only thing I don’t miss is the English weather. It’s in the 90’s today and sunny over here. I’ve always been a huge Newcastle fan, probably because my Mum was so into them. My Dad and brother didn’t watch football! So I found this an interesting article by Deb. I grew up in an era where girls weren’t allowed to play football at school and petitioned the Headmistress every year to allow it. It never happened in my school days but I’m really glad it is played now by girls at school.

  33. billy jean – haley want’s to know where you got your little black number from – was it primark ?.

  34. Jill says:
    October 9, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    “To Roy Cropper, what’s ‘primark’?”

    A very cheap clothes shop Jill. You look great though, just tell the cheeky get where to go! ;-)

  35. “Stardust says:
    October 9, 2009 at 4:12 pm
    Good article Deb – been sitting here thinking of what I really think – well placed and thought provoking.”

    HHMMMMM….Stardust sitting there thinking about what he really….thinks…erm…about?

    I thought I heard the sound of the Cosmos creaking!

    Nice article Deb. Thoughtful and well written….my two penneth for what it’s worth.

  36. Jillybean

    “Primark” is the clothing retailer equivalent of Jordan….cheap, tasteless tat that we could all do without!

    Makes “J C Penny” look classy!

  37. oh dear – jillybean , may i offer you my sincerest apologies if i have offended you – primark is not as bad as others make out , infact i insist my wife shops there.

  38. To Roy Cropper, Sorry mate, I was obviously too classy for you as I hadn’t heard of Primark! You may think I look cheap but I’m obviously way too expensive for you and totally out of your league!

    PS I am an excellent Salsa dancer, hence the clothes.

  39. OK thanks for the apology Roy Cropper you are back on my Christmas Card list! LOL

    Cheers, Worky for defending me so gallantly:)

  40. cheers jilly , you dont look cheap ,far from it – now get to bed it’s late – goodnight pet.

  41. Jill – I trust you’ve gone to bed now? I, on the other hand, have to go to work. On Saturday!! Again!! This project had better go in shortly!

  42. Girls don’t ruin football they just want to play football if your a boy that says girls don’t need football go do house work” but ,if you were a girl who was stronger and aggressive and big… But couldn’t play and a boy comes and says it’s not for you sweety, go play with dolls … You would feel mad and want to punch that guy… Exactly that’s how girls feel when you say that so think a little on what you boys say because there are some girls that are HUGE and STRONG look up the strongest women alive I dare you