Lancashire’s first Lioness captain finally receives England cap – 50 years late

The original Lioness team – including Lancashire captain Sheila Parker – have finally been honored with their England caps 50 years after their first victory.

Jill Scott presented former England captain Sheila and her team with FA caps, thanking them for ‘leading the way’ for women’s football in England. Six-year-old grandmother Sheila, who lives in Chorley, led the Lionesses to victory against Scotland in 1972 after the ban on women’s football was lifted a year earlier.

Sheila, who is in a wheelchair following a heart attack, has now fulfilled her dream of meeting the current Lioness team as she has been properly rewarded by the FA with official caps. The 75-year-old said she was delighted to see the current Euro 2022 winners beat world champions USA 2-1 at home at Wembley on Friday.

READ MORE: The Lancashire footballers who captured the hearts of the nation 100 years ago

She told the Mirror: “I never thought I would live to see this day, with the women’s game filling huge stadiums like this. It was amazing, absolutely brilliant.

The home side were cheered on by fans as they took to the pitch at half-time and Sheila later said: “When I watched them beat Germany in the Euros final from home I felt like I was on the pitch with them, and finally I had the chance to be on the pitch with them.

Sheila was the first captain of the England women’s football team

Sheila and her original team, including Pat Davies, Jeannie Allott, Jean Wilson and Wendy Owen, were given England caps by recent ex-lion Jill Scott, 35, who was delighted to meet them.

Sheila said: “Jill said to me, ‘You are absolutely amazing. Thank you for leading the way for us. I’m so, so proud of you and I’m so glad I met you.

She also met current Lioness captain Leah Williamson, who was unable to play in Friday’s friendly due to injury. Along with head coach Serina Weigman, Leah recorded a personal video message for the home team. “Serina said we were pioneers in women’s football and without us they wouldn’t be where they are today,” Sheila said.

“She said we fought so hard on and off the pitch to break down barriers and make women’s football what it is today, and called us Lionesses legends.

Original Lioness squad finally honored with England caps after 50 years
Original Lioness squad finally honored with England caps after 50 years

“It meant a lot to me to finally have this recognition after 50 years. It’s been a long time coming, but I’m proud that we have finally arrived at this stage of recognition that we deserve.

On Friday, the 1972 squad formed a guard of honor holding their caps as the teams exited the tunnel ahead of kick-off. Sheila, from Chorley, Lancs, is now hoping to see England steal the crown from the United States at next year’s World Cup.

“What an experience to watch England beat the world champions at Wembley,” she said. “It was amazing, emotional. We played very well and I really think we can win next year. I’m sure we will.

Sheila was delighted to see England beat world champions USA at home
Sheila was delighted to see England beat world champions USA at home

Sheila and Patricia Gregory, one of the founders of the Women’s Football Association, had long campaigned for selections for the team. They were previously given homemade caps and were never officially recognized by the FA.

Kay Cossington, FA Women’s Technical Manager, said: “We are indebted to all the former players, who are all valued members of the England family.

“The success of the summer and the sold-out crowds at Wembley Stadium wouldn’t be possible without them.”


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