England’s 1971 World Cup captain calls for FA to recognise her snubbed team
PUBLISHED: 21:06 14 June 2019 | UPDATED: 09:49 10 July 2019
More than six million people tuned in to watch England Women’s World Cup victory over Scotland on Sunday, June 9.
But turn the clock back by almost 50 years and attitudes in England were very different.
The Football Association refused to sanction the 1971 World Cup team and upon their return, members of the side were banned from playing football for appearing unofficially in Mexico.
However, they were met with a rousing reception when they arrived in the country, something which they hadn't received back home.
Captaining the side was an 18-year-old Carol Wilson, originally from Newcastle, who now lives in Shipdham, near Dereham.
She said: "It was quite daunting because it was something men didn't like to happen in those days.
"We had a fantastic reception out there. Supporters threw things at our bus, we thought they were rocks but later found out they were presents.
"We weren't used to this support but when we came back there was just one reporter at the airport."
After qualifying for the tournament in Sicily, England went on to finish sixth and Carol Wilson remains the youngest ever woman to captain England.
It is believed that they still hold the record attendance for the England Women's team, with an estimated 95,000 people watching them take on Mexico.
Carol was spotted by manager Harry Batt when playing five-a-side.
Now aged 67, and working at logistics firm Wincanton, in Watton, she was reunited with her teammates for the first time recently and believes her side deserves to finally be officially recognised by the FA.
She added: "I was invited to a reception, my dad was really proud but I was humiliated. Whenever I answered a question it was turned on its head. I felt ridiculed.
"There are two things we want to come out of this. We need to get girls into teams away from their school.
"We also want to be recognised. That's what we deserve.
"Women aren't getting paid the same and we don't get the same airtime. It's moving forward, I just wish it was a bit faster.
"There were England Women's teams before us who need to be recognised. I want to keep fighting,"
A petition to officially recognise the 1971 England Women's team can be found at https://www.change.org/p/the-football-association-recognition-from-the-football-association-for-the-england-women-s-1971-world-cup-team
Carol Wilson's team were deemed unofficial as under the Women's Football Association (WFA) constitution in 1971, clubs needed permission to play abroad and couldn't say they were representing England.
The FA Council lifted a ban which forbade women playing on the grounds of affiliated clubs in 1971.
The WFA worked towards forming an official England team through a series of trials and the first official England Women's game took place in 1972.
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