Support 100 years of independent journalism.

Euros 22: how women’s football became the more beautiful game – Audio Long Reads

It was banned by the FA for 50 years, but the football my team plays has sparked a more inclusive future.

By May Robson

On Boxing Day 1920, 53,000 people watched the Dick, Kerr Ladies beat St Helens Ladies 4-0 at Goodison Park – the largest-ever crowd recorded for a women’s football match in England. The game had blossomed during the First World War, as lunch-break kickabouts at munitions factories evolved into 150 women’s clubs across the country. But months after the Boxing Day fixture, the sport was banned by the Football Association – deemed “unsuitable” and dangerous. The ban remained for 50 years.

In this rich personal reflection on the women’s game, the New Statesman’s podcast producer May Robson looks at how it has evolved since 1971 – both less well-funded but more inclusive and vibrant than the men’s game. Robson’s own grassroots club, Goal Diggers FC, now has over 200 members and an international reach; an exceptional England women’s team reached the final of the Euro 22 tournament. How did they get here? In the words of the Dick, Kerr Ladies FC captain Alice Kells, more than 100 years ago: “We play for the love of the game and are determined to go on.”

This article was first published on the on 20 July 2022. You can read the text version here.

Written and read by May Robson.

You might also enjoy listening to I was Joni Mitchell’s “Carey”: an interview with Carey Raditz by Kate Mossman.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

Podcast listeners can get a subscription to the New Statesman for just £1 per week, for 12 weeks. Visit

How to listen to Audio Long Reads

1. In podcast apps

Audio Long Reads is available to listen on all major podcast players, including Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle PodcastsYouTube and more.

Either click the links above to open in your preferred player, or open the podcast app on your device and search for “Audio Long Reads”.

Follow or subscribe in your podcast app to receive new episodes as soon as they publish.

2. On the New Statesman website

The podcast is also available to listen right here on the New Statesman website. Bookmark, where we will publish new episodes every Saturday morning.

3. On your smart speaker

If you have an Amazon Echo, Google Home or Apple HomePod, ask it to “play the latest episode of Audio Long Reads from the New Statesman”. The command will also work on other smart devices equipped with Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri.

Content from our partners
How to create a responsible form of “buy now, pay later”
“Unions are helping improve conditions for drivers like me”
Transport is the core of levelling up
Topics in this article: ,