How did you start following football? If you would ask a lifelong football fan this question you can expect an answer that will take you back many years, to a first memory, a special moment that remains ingrained in the fan’s mind.
Let’s rephrase the question. What if you were asked, “What is your first memory of women’s football?” Unless you followed the women’s game from its inception then most likely that your first memory is more recent rather than describing step by step the moments that led to Brandi Chastain’s iconic celebration in the final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1999.
Fortunately, there are recent books out there that will take you right down to the roots of the women’s game while understanding what goes on nowadays. From the high attendances of the late 1800s to the bans of the early 1900s, and through the stars that paved the way for women’s football for today’s future legends to carry on playing. Here are 4 books to boost your women’s football knowledge:
The Roar of The Lionesses-Women’s Football in England by Carrie Dunn
Published in 2016, Carrie Dunn takes you on a journey in England post the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup that took place in Canada. The Lionesses won the bronze medal in that tournament after beating Germany thanks to a Fara Williams penalty in extra time. At the time, women’s football in England was fighting to achieve professional status for its top division. This book takes you through all levels of the women’s football pyramid highlighting the struggles and achievements of individuals and teams such as Leyton Orient Women, Goaldiggers FC, WSL teams and of course, The Lionesses. If you’re looking to understand the history of the women’s game in England up until recent days then this book is for you.
The Pride of The Lionesses-The Changing Face of Women’s Football in England by Carrie Dunn
As we know from the film industry, sequels tend to miss out on the success of its predecessor, but not on this occasion. Three years on from The Roar of The Lionesses and Four years on from their Bronze medal, Carrie Dunn opens your eyes to how women’s football has changed in between. A chapter about the Lionesses feat in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup that took place in France where The Lionesses finished 4th after a 2-1 loss to Sweden is also included. In this book, you’ll follow up on the journeys of those mentioned in The Roar alongside new additions like Barnsley Ladies FC and Watford Ladies FC and Wales Captain Helen Ward, as well as insights into the development of women referees and refereeing in the women’s game. Although this book is more recent, I’d recommend reading The Roar first.
The National Team-The Inside Story of the Women Who Changed Soccer by Caitlin Murray
The USA Women’s National Team is always in the headlines, which means that it is doing the right things on and off the pitch. This book is superb and allows the reader to understand the true ethos of the USWNT. The founding members of the USWNT share how they had to battle to gain recognition and improvement of working conditions, and how the players of today continue to carry the torch to ensure that none of the progress is in vain. This book takes the reader beyond the USWNT and provides insights into the quest of developing a professional soccer league in the USA. You’ll also understand what takes place in collective bargaining agreements and how they shape the future of the game. Look no further than this book for your USWNT guide. Make sure that you get the updated 2019 edition which includes the latest FIFA Women’s World Cup.
SoccerWomen-The Icons, Rebels, Stars and Trailblazers Who Transformed The Beautiful Game by Gemma Clarke
This book is different than the books previously mentioned. This one will take on you a journey through the stories of the players and coaches who transformed women’s football. Some of the mentioned characters in the book continue to do so. Organized chronologically, you’ll get to know the stars of the 1890s-1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s and 2020s. Before each era, a wider context to how the game developed is provided. Published in 2019 although before the FIFA Women’s World Cup. If you’re a fan that finds it easier to follow a player and then goes on to support a team then this book is for you.
The beauty of reading these four books one after the other is seeing how they complement each other and remind the reader key moments but from different storytelling types.