Women’s FA Cup: sold-out Wembley establishes final as national ritual

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The record crowd expected for Chelsea v Manchester United is the latest signifier of stunning rise of the women’s game

Wembley played in the Women’s FA Cup final long before the Women’s FA Cup final was ever played at Wembley. In 1997 the amateur club from north-west London – later absorbed into Barnet and now known as London Bees – went on a fairytale run, beating Doncaster Belles and Arsenal on the way to the final at Upton Park. There they lost 1-0 to a goal from Millwall’s Louise Waller in front of 3,015 people. “Of course it would have been nice to play at Wembley Stadium,” their manager, John Jones, said at the time. “But we have to be realistic. The place would be half-empty.”

Two decades earlier, in 1977, Queens Park Rangers beat Southampton 1-0 in the final at Champion Hill, the home of Dulwich Hamlet. For the first few years of the competition’s existence it was still battling the overt hostility of the men’s football establishment, and no Football League ground would agree to host it. As the winning goalscorer Carrie Staley celebrated with the trophy, a male newspaper photographer asked if she would put some lipstick on and kiss the Cup for him. (Staley refused).

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Written by Jonathan Liew
This news first appeared on https://www.theguardian.com/football/2023/may/13/womens-fa-cup-sold-out-wembley-establishes-final-as-national-ritual under the title “Women’s FA Cup: sold-out Wembley establishes final as national ritual”. Bolchha Nepal is not responsible or affiliated towards the opinion expressed in this news article.