Helen Matthews

Helen Matthews

The Scottish Suffragette, Helen Matthews, is known for organising the first women’s football match in Scotland. The match took place in 1881 against an all-female side from England. Matthews, who played under the pseudonym Mrs Graham, felt inspired to organise the team after watching an all-male match been Scotland and England.

The match was a triumph for the English Suffragettes. What’s more, it saw the first female black footballer, Carrie Boustead, take to the football pitch.

The first match was played against an all-female team from England. It took place on 7 May 1881 at Easter Road and attracted wide media attention. Football was not seen as a suitable sport for women and their participation in the sport provoked shock and anger among many.

British Ladies’ Football Club
British Ladies’ Football Club

One newspaper report at the time said:

“The young women presented a pretty appearance on the field, and this was in a great measure due to the nice assortment of colours, as well as the dainty way in which the women set them off.”

The women played a second match played at the Shawfield Athletic Ground in Glasgow on 16 May 1881 in  trousers - a move that generated controversy.

Riots erupted after the team defeated the English side. As a result, women were banned from playing football  in Scotland, so Matthews headed south to continue playing.

But as time progressed so did the attitude of some. Matthews formed the British Ladies Football Club and it had its first game on 23 March 1895 in front of a crowd that numbered 10,000.

However, it was not until 1971 that women football teams were finally permitted to use training facilities of registered Scottish clubs.

See also: Women in 1900

MLA Citation/Reference

"Helen Matthews". HistoryLearning.com. 2015. Web.