Leicester

In pictures: Leicester City Ladies FC celebrates 50 years

Original Leicester City Ladies team in 1966 Image copyright Sue Foulkes
Image caption The club played their first fixture at Hinckley Carnival in May 1966

A club claiming to be the "oldest continuous ladies football" side in England is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Leicester City Ladies FC, which is not officially affiliated to the city's title-winning men's team, was formed in 1966 after a supporters' club meeting.

The players had to borrow kit and train in a car park in the early days.

Once considered a "taboo" by their male counterparts, the club has ambitions to reach the Women's Super League.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Peter Rodrigues (pictured right) borrowed shirts for the ladies to complete their first fixture

Having been one of the clubs represented at the first meeting of the Women's Football Association in June 1970, Leicester Ladies have been praised for their longevity.

Gill Ridgley, who looks after the women's football collection at the British Library, said: "It's a testament to these women's determination and love of football that they carried on playing despite all the obstacles - and these were many - that were put in their way."

Image copyright Sue Foulkes
Image caption The club played their early fixtures on council land and parks

Internal problems that have threatened the club's existence over the decades have included a lack of personnel and financial problems, officials said.

"It has been a real rollercoaster," club secretary and ex-player Sue Foulkes said.

"There's been many a time when the club could have gone under and it is just down to a bit of resilience from a few of us that have kept it going."

Image copyright Sue Foulkes
Image caption A half time orange remains one of football's oldest traditions

Women's football in England

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Women's football has grown in popularity

Image copyright Sue Foulkes
Image caption The club had a spell at Ellis School in the 1970s, keeping going as a night school class
Image copyright Sue Foulkes
Image caption The team went on tour to Wales in 1974

The team was initially met with scepticism, but has grown and played at Wembley in 1996 before the play-off final between Leicester City and Crystal Palace.

"The original team started to train in the car park at the old Filbert Street ground," Ms Foulkes said.

Image copyright Sue Foulkes
Image caption The ladies team also entertained crowds at Filbert Street before a men's match against West Ham in 1986
Image copyright Sue Foulkes
Image caption Leicester City Ladies played a game at Filbert Street as part of the ground's 100th anniversary celebrations in 1992

"Nothing was supported by the FA at that time and it was absolutely taboo for clubs to help a women's team with facilities.

"When they came out to play in the first game, we had a Welsh left back called Peter Rodrigues who played for Leicester City, who borrowed kit from the club so they wore those.

"They played their first game and we've been going ever since."

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