Skip to main content
Published 07 October 2022 4 min read
England Women's Senior Team

'Our own place etched in history'

Written by:

Nicholas Veevers

Former England Women's player Janet Bagguley speaks on her involvement in the first-ever game and joy at being celebrated 50 years later
As one of the founding figures of the England Women’s senior team, Janet Bagguley has been recollecting her memories of the first recognised international almost 50 years ago.

The former midfielder was selected in the squad to take on Scotland in Greenock on 18 November 1972 in what was the first women’s international for both teams.

And as she prepares to reunite with some of her teammates from ’72, along with over 100 former England internationals at Wembley when the current Lionesses face USA on Friday, Bagguley tells the story of that first camp.

“At the time I was playing for Macclesfield Ladies, along with Sue Whyatt who was also in the squad, and both of us got through the trials and were selected for England,” she explained.

“I was absolutely thrilled to bits, but I hadn’t got any holidays left from work. Fortunately, my boss still said, ‘you’re going’ as we had a week of training before.

“Because in those days, we had to clock in and clock out at work, he actually clocked me in and clocked me out every day at work which was amazing for me.
“What I do remember about the night itself is how bad the pitch was…it was November, it was covered in ice and I’m sure most men would’ve refused to play on it.

“I remember being 2-0 down at half time and Eric Worthington had a right good go at us at half time, and then we came out and won 3-2.

“I made some good friends back then and we had a laugh and a lot of us have kept in touch ever since.

Bagguley and her former squad mate Whyatt were able to meet the current crop of players ahead of the USA game when they visited the squad at their base in London.

And after chatting to Millie Bright, who she says is the current player who was most like herself, Janet can’t wait to enjoy the celebrations at Wembley when members of that team from ’72 will be honoured before the game.

“We can’t wait to be at Wembley and it was amazing to meet the girls,” she said.
Janet chats to Lucy Bronze and Katie Zelem after watching the current crop of Lionesses in training
Janet chats to Lucy Bronze and Katie Zelem after watching the current crop of Lionesses in training
“It was great to speak to some of the current squad, there’s no airs and graces with them and they really appreciate what we’ve done in the past.

“I’ve always enjoyed watching England, but this current squad in the last couple of seasons have done such a good job in turning things around. There’s kids now playing football and they’re starting to let girls play in PE lessons now and it needs to be done!

“There is a lot of interest and near me there are two or three girls’ teams coming through and one of my friends who I play golf with, she’s set up a team and they’re doing really well.

“I still work as a postlady and I was only out a couple of weeks ago, when I had to do a shout-out from Royal Mail to the Lionesses, when these two young girls appeared behind me.

“Their mum stood to one side and I looked up, and she said that because I as an ex-Lioness, they wanted to say hello so it’s lovely.”
The former players together with the current squad at their base at the Lensbury Resort
The former players together with the current squad at their base at the Lensbury Resort
Bagguley and her teammates from the Scotland game will all receive a special bespoke England cap as part of the celebrations commemorating 50 years of the England Women’s team.

And while Bagguley admits the recognition of previous teams and players hasn’t always been there, she’s grateful that each and every player to have been capped will now have their own place etched in history.

“I know a lot of people have been frustrated, having to wait 50 years, but we can’t complain now because what we’ve had this week and at Wembley, it’s brilliant,” said Bagguley.

“The only reason I had to stop playing at the time was because of time off work. At that point I was just a kid still and all my friends were going off on holidays abroad and I wanted to do that and I couldn’t do football as well.

“I don’t regret that now, as I had some great experiences, went to Wembley, met Matt Busby, but I really appreciate what the FA have done now for us and I think it’s fantastic.”