... pulls together stories across a period of more than 140 years into a compelling narrative ... Wrack demonstrates that it has often been through participation in international competitions that the English women’s team have gained ground in terms of growing their home support, media coverage and funding. She situates the development of the women’s game within a wider context, ably demonstrating how forces at play outside the football arena, such as changes in female employment, increasing legislation to protect women’s rights and access to contraception, have in turn shaped female footballers’ experiences. The history of the women’s game has been long overlooked. This book celebrates it, and the teams and individuals who helped the sport develop into today’s nationally and internationally recognized phenomenon.
Fascinating connections emerge from this history ... a comprehensive and detailed historical survey of women’s football at a crucial point in its growth, which asks probing questions about what the game should do next.
[Wrack] includes several pearls of press reports from the earliest days, including the Standard’s editorial, that give a flavour of the derision and hostility that greeted the pioneers of women’s football ... But there are also plenty of surprising tales of the numbers of women who played football as far back as the 18th century ... In light of the significant, hard-won progress made by women’s football in recent years, this is a timely book, tracking the road to the record attendances, equal pay agreements, ever increasing television coverage and sponsorship deals that have made the headlines of late ... But it’s not a PR job for the sport, pointing, as it does, to the innumerable problems that the women’s game still faces, and suggesting a path ahead and a way of addressing them. It might no longer be an ephemeral vulgarity, but there’s still some way to go in the journey yet.