Mrs Graham's XI

Mrs Graham's XI was a women's football team formed by Helen Matthews in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1881. It is considered the first British women's football team and a pioneering team in the history of the sport.[1] Because it was not safe for women to play football without harassment, the players used pseudonyms to protect their identities. Matthews, also a goalkeeper for the team, claimed to be "Mrs Graham".[1]

The British Ladies Football Club North Team - Mrs Graham's XI was a women's football team (in 1895)


The first record of the team coming together to play football occurred on 9 May 1881, at Edinburgh's Easter Road Stadium. The match was billed as a Scotland v England international.[1][2]

Just over a week later, on 20 May 1881,[1] the teams played in Glasgow in front of 5,000 spectators. The match was abandoned in the 55th minute after a violent pitch invasion during which the women were "roughly jostled", and chased by a mob as they left the grounds.[1][2] Further games resulted in similar pitch invasions, which soon resulting in ending this early attempt to introduce women's football.[3]

The press coverage, which would dominate coverage of women's football for the next century, was clearly established in 1881: barely disguised contempt regarding player appearance, including costume, and the standard of play,[2] overlaid with a certainty that football was a rough man's game unsuitable for women.[3]

An attempt to form a new club was made by Matthews[4] with Nettie Honeyball (also a pseudonym) founding the British Ladies' Football Club on 1 January 1895.[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e Tate, Tim (2013). Girls With Balls: The Secret History of Women's Football. John Blake. ISBN 1782196862.
  2. ^ a b c Domeneghetti, R. (2014) From the Back Page to the Front Room: Football's journey through the English media page 155 Ockley Books. ISBN 1783015586 Retrieved February 2015
  3. ^ a b c Laycock, S. & Laycock, P. (2014) Unexpected Britain page 199 Amberley Publishing. ISBN 1445632845 Retrieved February 2015
  4. ^ Tomlinson, A. (2010) A Dictionary of Sports Studies page 490 Oxford University Press. ISBN 019921381X Retrieved February 2015

Further readingEdit

  • Grainey, Timothy (2012), Beyond Bend It Like Beckham: The Global Phenomenon of Women's Soccer, University of Nebraska Press, ISBN 0803240368
  • Lee, James (2008). The Lady Footballers: Struggling to Play in Victorian Britain, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-42609-1
  • Lopez, Sue (1997). Women on the ball: a guide to women's football, Scarlet Press, ISBN 1857270169
  • Tate, Tim (2013). Girls With Balls: The Secret History of Women's Football, John Blake, ISBN 1782196862
  • Williams, Jean (2007). A Beautiful Game: International Perspectives on Women's Football, Apex Publishing LLC, ISBN 1847883451