In Focus: St Helens Women, 1980

Liz Deighan in her St Helens Women kit with the Women’s FA Cup trophy, 1980. Image courtesy of Liz Deighan.

Following decades of decline the 1960s saw a renaissance in the women’s game fuelled by grass roots and community groups. Women set up and ran their own football clubs, sometimes with the support of the Women’s Football Association who organised women’s football in England independently of the FA until 1993.

Women’s football has always been a place of self-sufficiency. The material culture of women’s football is scattered with examples of women using their skills and creativity to create their own identity.

St Helens Women’s Football Club established in 1976 by England international Liz Deighan and her friend and team-mate Chris Slater. By 1980 they had won the Women’s FA Cup, in which the team wore this Le Coq Sportif manufactured shirt printed with the St Helens WFC logo.

In the 1970s there were no football kits made specifically for women to buy and as an independent team St Helens WFC simply bought standard, off-the-peg men’s kits from sports retailers.

“In 1976, myself and a friend Chris Slater started a team in St Helens. We started from scratch; no team, no kit, no finance backing. We managed to recruited players from various teams and leagues across Lancashire and Cheshire. Our first kit of yellow Adidas shirt, blue shorts and yellow socks was purchased by the players themselves”

Liz Deighan
St Helens Women, 1976. Image courtesy of Liz Deighan.

Shortly afterwards, the club logo was created by Liz and her teammates. The material culture of women’s football is scattered with examples of women using their skills and creativity collectively to create their own visual language and identity such as this.

“St Helens WFC had gone from strength to strength over the years and in May 1980, we won the WFA Cup, beating another North West club Preston NE 1-0. By this time we had accrued some cash and we purchased our WFA kit at a cost of £215.43.”

Liz Deighan

The basic design of the shirt itself was typical of those produced by French manufacturer Le Coq Sportif at the time. The three colour collar and cuffs design were a staple feature of their designs for teams at the time such as St Etienne, and later Chelsea, and in recent years has been used in their retro-styled Fiorentina kits.

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