South Yorkshire Ladies

In the midst of the FA ban on women's football matches on FA-affiliated pitches, a few women's teams kept playing, mainly in charity or recreational matches. One such team was South Yorkshire Ladies.


Corinthian Ladies v South Yorkshire Ladies advert
(Image: Sheffield Green 'Un)
In 1952, July 1953 and July 1954, South Yorkshire Ladies played Manchester Corinthian Ladies at Owlerton Stadium, Penistone Road, Sheffield for the Infant Paralysis Fellowship Cup. The South Yorkshire team was described as “Yorkshire champions”. In July 1954, Corinthians won 5-2. The match raised money for the Infantile Paralysis Fellowship. The referee was Ernest Blenkinsop, a former Sheffield Wednesday and England player. 

They also played the Corinthians on Thursday 24th June 1954 at Stretford's 36th Pageant, which was a huge event.

The line up in the photo above is: Back row, left to right: M Scott, Betty Sugden, J Taylor, J Neal, L Long, D Addem (captain), E Davies, S Walker. Front row: Mrs A Kellett, ? Walker, M Vickers, V Reading, D Salters, P Walton, Mr H Goodlad (manager), Mrs Goodlad (secretary).

A letter in the Green ‘Un on 25/7/53 from Mrs Joyce McAleese wonders why Sheffield doesn’t have a women’s team and says she intends to start one. She says she’s played football and seen several women’s matches and the standard of this one was the poorest. She already knows several women in Sheffield who'd like to form a team and invited interested readers to write to her.

Betty Sugden in goalkeeping kit for what may have been South Yorkshire Ladies
A team thought to be South Yorkshire Ladies c. 1954 with Betty Sugden in goalkeeping kit, centre of front row, (Image: The Ossie Through the Ages Project)
Betty Sugden (back row, second from left in the top photo and centre of front row in the second photo) was born in Leeds in 1936 and moved to Doncaster as a child due to her father's work. She had four older brothers and was always keen on sport. She excelled in swimming, diving, netball, table tennis and badminton as well as football, and played badminton in the Yorkshire League. She played football for a Doncaster team, as well as for South Yorkshire Ladies and for Droylsden Ladies in Manchester. She spent hours travelling from Doncaster to Manchester by bus, tram and on foot for training. She is known to have played in goal sometimes. She worked as an electrical and mechanical engineer. Betty married Geoffrey Widdowson in 1957 and they had a son, Gregg. Geoffrey died in 1976 and Betty married William Bell in 1984. She died in 2021. 

If anyone knows any more about the team or the players, please get in touch!