As Julie Burchill never said, just because you visit a BSSH conference, it doesn’t make you a historicist. Knowing a few great sports historians helps though, and is all the more privilege. My indebtedness to past and present colleagues at the International Centre for Sports History and Culture is evident in both the time to complete the research and in providing much-needed context. In particular, Matt Taylor’s comments on a first draft of the manuscript were characteristically generous, perceptive and thoughtful. Especial thanks to Dil Porter. Quite apart from benefitting from his professional expertise on a daily basis, you have to respect someone who signs off conversations with senior people by shouting ‘Up the Os’ down the phone without malice intended or offence, presumably, taken. I am grateful for the patience of commissioning editor, Kathleen May, at Berg; her successor, Hannah Shakespeare; and to Emily Medcalfe, who kindly worked on the design and marketing.
The research was funded by a two-year João Havelange Scholarship awarded by CIES, the International Centre for Sports Studies, University of Neuchatel, and funded by Federation Internationale de Football Association, FIFA, the international governing body of football. Professor Jean Louis Juvet and Jérôme Champagne, Deputy General Secretary FIFA, have been most supportive. Given that the findings are broadly critical of the federation, it is perhaps a sign of the maturity of their confidence that they would fund research of this kind and allow me access to the archive. In particular, Tatjana Haenni, Mary Harvey, Arno Flach and his colleagues at the documentation centre made useful suggestions. Clearly, in their generous hospitality, they helped the process of research without necessarily agreeing with the conclusions drawn from it, and for that I am acutely grateful.
My largest obligation, nevertheless, remains to the women, men, girls and boys who participated, principally to celebrate their love of football. Collectors of women’s memorabilia to whom I am grateful include, in no particular order, Sue Lopez, Gail Newsham, Dr Colin Aldis, Sheila Rollinson, Laurence Prudhomme-Poncet, Peter Bridgett, Angela Moore (aka ‘the chief’), Dennis O’Brien, Julien Garises, Elsie Cook, Jess Macbeth, Winnifred Bourke, Bente Skogvang, Becky Wang, Nancy Thompson, Ali Melling, Debbie Hindley, Barbara Jacobs, Shawn Ladda, plus Jacob Hickey and Rachel Bowering at the BBC, to name but a few.
The topic has a long and personal history for me because, at age eleven, going on twelve, I just couldn’t understand why my good friend Annette Astley was no longer allowed to represent the school when she was, in that very matter of fact