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The Forgotten Lionesses - a Personal Story by Paul Rance

(from the upcoming Paul Rance book, Made in Luton - check homepage for updates)


One of my footballing playmates was a girl a few years older than me who was nicknamed Locky - Christine Lockwood. She said she played for England Ladies, but though I remember being a bit impressed, I wasn't sure if I was being told the truth... Locky was as good as any of the boys I played with, including Peter Revell. I seem to remember her showing her skills with a tennis ball and leaving us lads rather awed.

Unbeknown to us at the time, Luton was the epicentre of women's football in the whole of the country, thanks to a trailblazer called Harry Batt, who managed the England team that appeared at an unofficial women's World Cup in Mexico in 1971. The crowds were huge and reached up to 90,000 fans for games. Locky was in the England team, and she played at the iconic Azteca Stadium, where Brazil had stunned the world in the World Cup final a year earlier. Chris was 15 at the time, and the England side was very young generally, with only two of the 14-strong squad over the age of 20.

I have thought about Chris over the years, and then when I heard commentator Jonathan Pearce mention the 'Forgotten Lionesses' of 1971 during an England Women's World Cup match on TV in 2019 my ears pricked up. So, I thought I'd do a bit of research, and look up Locky, and there she was all over the media, including on The One Show. She was indeed one of the 'Forgotten Lionesses'. American female friends were impressed that I knew “a legend” and someone who helped to start it all. The achievements of Harry and his girls, and of the other teams and managers who took part in the 1971 tournament, helped to kick down the doors. 

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