At long last, over 100 years of women’s footy has finally been recognised!

My article is based on historian Rob Hess’s piece in The Conversation

Take a look at the great photos!



The AFL hierarchy has stated that women’s football is a “revolution”, starting with the first game on Friday 3rd Feburary 2017.

The “revolution” started a long time ago. Not with the advent of the modern women’s leagues in the 1980s but more than 100 years ago.

Women first played a series of competitive matches in Perth in 1915, when 36 pioneering young women in modest and cumbersome outfits took to the field and showed that women belonged there too. And thousands of matches have been played around Australia since.

In 1929 more than 41,000 people turned out to watch a women’s football match on Adelaide Oval.

By 1950, the women’s game had been played in more than 20 towns around Tasmania. A four-team competition was even run in Brisbane in the 1950s, when sides also emerged in Darwin and Alice Springs.

In the first game in Melbourne, in 1921, one team was kitted out in St Kilda uniforms – also breaking the tradition of women playing in skirts or dresses.

Geelong included a women’s match as part of a past players’ day at Kardinia Park in 1954.

Even renowned hard-man Jack Dyer, then captain-coach of Richmond, agreed to umpire a women’s match between North Melbourne and South Melbourne, which was played in front of a crowd of 9,000 people.

It was Footscray Football Club that kept the women’s code alive and in the public eye during the 1950s. The impetus seemed to come from high-profile players like premiership captain-coach Charlie Sutton and rising stars Ted Whitten and Jack Collins, who tapped into the ever-present desire of women to play football.

Imagine teams called “Whitten’s Wonders” and “Collins’ Cuties” these days!

At long last, over 100 years of women’s footy has finally been recognised!



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About Jan Courtin

A Bloods tragic since first game at Lake Oval in 1948. Moved interstate to Sydney to be closer to beloved Swans in 1998. My book "My Lifelong Love Affair with the Swans" was launched by the Swans at their headquarters at the SCG in August 2016.


  1. Kasey Symons says

    Great stuff Jan – I also just read your fan memoir and I may not be a Sydney fan but it was an excellent read :)

  2. jan courtin says

    Thanks Kasey

    So pleased you enjoyed my book.

    All the best

  3. Go girls! A sight to see would have been the early games with players in long skirts and puffy blouses – the big punt kick somewhat hamstrung…….

  4. Cat from the Country says

    My hubby’s elderly cousin told us her story last year.
    Back in the 1940’s she lived in Footscray..
    Charlie Sutton often visited her family home.
    He gathered some girls together and trained them at the local ground.
    Joy said they only played another Footscray team and she only played a few games.

  5. would love to read of Joy’s stories and tales from her footy days in the ’40’s! Wonder if she has any pics?


  6. jan courtin says

    Thanks Jude and Cat from the Country.

    Yes, would be great to read women’s footy stories from the 30s 40s 50s. – any time really.

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