The Women's Football Association (WFA) was the governing body of women's football in England. It was formed in 1969 and was disbanded in 1993, as responsibility for overseeing all aspects of the game of women's football in England passed to The Football Association.
|Founded||1 November 1969|
On 1 November 1969, representatives of 44 clubs attended the inaugural meeting at Caxton Hall in London. Six months later seven regional Leagues were represented at the first AGM. Pat Dunn was initially elected chair of the newly formed Women’s Football Association (WFA) but her tenure was short: she was rapidly asked to resign in favour of a man, Pat Gwynne, who was preferred by the FA. Dunn did however serve as vice-chair from 1969 to 1971, and 1972–3.
The first secretary was Arthur Hobbs, who was one of the founding members of the Women's Football Association; unfortunately he had to give up the post in 1972 due to poor health; he was succeeded by Patricia Gregory (1972–1982). In 1971, under pressure from UEFA, the FA rescinded its ban on women playing football on the pitches of its member clubs. Also that year the WFA held the first national knock out cup; the Mitre Trophy, which became the FA Women's Cup. The following year the WFA launched an official England national team, who beat Scotland 3–2 in Greenock.
In June 1993 the WFA ceased to exist when power was transferred to the FA. The 1993–94 FA Women's Cup was the first to be run under direct control of the FA, while the league structure was taken over and re–branded in 1994–95. It was intended that the resources and experience of the FA would capitalise on increased participation levels and arrest a decline in fortunes for the women's national team.
The FA's subsequent performance did not meet with universal approval. Linda Whitehead, the WFA's secretary for 13 years prior to the switchover, said of the FA, "A lot of people felt very bitter. It wasn't what they wanted to do, it was the way they did it – they just rode roughshod all over us." In December 1994 Arsenal Ladies manager Vic Akers lamented, "They [the FA] have been in charge 18 months now and they talk about a development plan. But I haven't heard a single word yet about what they actually intend to do."
A 2006 Department for Culture, Media and Sport report into women's football concluded that the FA had been largely successful in developing and promoting the women's game in England. Sue Lopez noted that prior to 1993 the WFA provided only "scant support" and that participation levels had stagnated between 1976 and 1991. Jean Williams reported that the WFA had been a "pretty leaky umbrella", particularly after 1985 when a lack of resources was compounded by infighting. Kelly Simmons, the FA's director of women's football, stated that "the WFA did a brilliant job as a voluntary organisation, but the amount of human and financial resources the FA could put behind women’s football was a major change".
A list of the 44 founder clubs present at the first WFA AGM:
- Arland (Luton)
- Bantam Ladies (Coventry)
- Bedworth Rangers (Warwickshire)
- Boreham Wood (Hertfordshire)
- Bosom Buddies Utd (Essex)
- Brighton G.P.O. (Sussex)
- Chiltern Valley (Luton)
- Cycle and General (London)
- Deal and Betteshanger Utd. (Kent)
- Dundalk W.F.C. (Ireland)
- Edgeware (London)
- Farley Utd. (Luton)
- Gillingham (Kent)
- Hamstreet (Kent)
- Harlesden Athletic (London)
- Hartwell (Northamptonshire)
- Hellingly Hospital (Sussex)
- Hull Ladies (Yorkshire)
- Kays Ladies (Worcester)
- Keresley (Coventry)
- L'Oreal Golden Ladies (Bedfordshire)
- Lan-Bar L.F.C. (Warwickshire)
- Leicester City (Leicestershire)
- Macclesfield (Cheshire)
- Manchester Corinthians L.F.C. (Lancashire)
- Manchester Nomads (Lancashire)
- Medway Ladies (Kent)
- Nuneaton Wanderers (Warwickshire)
- Patstone (Southampton)
- Rainbow Dazzlers (Burton-on-Trent)
- Ramsgate (Kent)
- Rapide L.F.C. (Worcestershire)
- Real Ladies (Southampton)
- Reckitts (Hull)
- Romford (Essex)
- Rye (Sussex)
- Spurs Ladies (London)
- Spurs Supporters (London)
- Swindon Spitfires (Wiltshire)
- Talon Elite (Luton)
- Thanet Utd (Kent)
- White Ribbon (London)
- Wilton Dynamos (Hampshire)
- Yardley Hastings (Kent)
- "Women's Football Association". Sheffield: The Owl Football Historian. Archived from the original on 15 October 2012. Retrieved 9 August 2011.
- "Dunn [née Thurston], Patricia Alice [Pat] (1933–1999), football referee". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. doi:10.1093/odnb/9780198614128.013.90000380715. Retrieved 21 September 2022.
- "Personalities from the 1960s/70s". History of the Women's Football Association. 6 May 2017. Retrieved 30 October 2020.
- "Women's Football" (PDF). London: Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 18 July 2006. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
- "History of Women's Football". The Football Association. Retrieved 9 August 2011.
- Pete Davies (30 August 1995). "Football: New year for Belles of the ball". The Independent. Retrieved 15 November 2010.
- Clive White (29 March 1993). "Football: Gunners on target as fans are won over: Once banned by the FA, the code will soon be back in the fold: Clive White watches the women of Arsenal close on the title after a 2–1 defeat of Doncaster Belles". The Independent. Retrieved 17 December 2010.
- Pete Davies (29 October 1994). "Football: Tough test for the team England forgot: As England's women prepare for their biggest ever fixture and the game continues to flourish at club level, the FA's commitment to the grassroots is being questioned. Pete Davies reports". The Independent. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
- Pete Davies (13 December 1994). "Football: Outclassed women need lessons in game's beauty". The Independent. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
- Sue Lopez (2001). "Soccer" (PDF). International Encyclopedia of Women and Sports. Berkshire. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
- Jean Williams (2003). A game for rough girls?: a history of women's football in Britain. Routledge. p. 4. ISBN 0-415-26338-7. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
- Samira Shackle (17 October 2014). "The rebirth of women's football: more than a century on, it's a game worth watching". New Statesman. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
- "Founder Clubs". History of the Women's Football Association. 29 April 2017. Retrieved 4 November 2020.
- Women's Football Association Archive, archives and manuscripts catalogue, the British Library. Retrieved 15 May 2020