2021 FA Women’s Cup Final – Arsenal v Chelsea Sunday 5 December – Part 1 History



by Andrew Crawshaw

This will be the 50th Women’s FA Cup Final, but why only the 50th?  It will also mark the centenary of a disgraceful act by the FA which by itself should preclude that body having any authority over the game we all support.

On 5 December 1921 the English Football Association (FA) issued a ban prohibiting women’s football matches from taking place on pitches owned by clubs affiliated in any way with the FA.  They didn’t ban Women’s football per se but just made it virtually impossible.  This ban was in place until 1971 when UEFA recommended the Women’s game be taken under control of the national associations in each country.

Prior to that ban Women’s football was quite popular and was played from the 1880’s with a side called England playing a side named Scotland at Easter Road, Edinburgh in 1881.  A match played in Newcastle in 1895 being attended by 8,000 supporters.  The great rise in popularity occurred during the 1914-18 war.  Women took the places of men in the factories as the men went to the front, and football became one of the more popular leisure time activities being organised for their physical welfare after shift time.  Matches were organised with monies collected going towards the war effort.  Whilst the FA was willing to encourage the matches so long as the money raised went towards the cost of the war or post war charitable causes in 1921 they acted to effectively stop the Women’s game in its tracks.

The first Women’s FA Cup Final was held in 1971 with Southampton beating Scottish side Stewarton & Thistle 4 – 1.  Southampton were to dominate the competition for the following 10 years.  Since 2015 the final has been held at Wembley with a peak attendance of 45, 423 for the 2018 Chelsea v Arsenal game.

Year Winner Runner up Score
1971 Southampton Stewarton & Thistle 4 – 1
1972 Southampton Lee’s Ladies 3 – 2
1973 Southampton Westhorn United 2 – 0
1974 Fodens Southampton 2 – 1
1975 Southampton Warminster 4 – 2
1976 Southampton QPR 2 – 1
1977 QPR Southampton 2 – 1
1978 Southampton QPR 8 – 2
1979 Southampton Lowestoft 1 – 0
1980 St Helens Preston North End 1 – 0
1981 Southampton St Helens 4 – 2

Since that 11 year run Southampton have rarely featured in the final, in 1992 Red Star Southampton lost to Doncaster Belles and 1999 Southampton Saints lost to Arsenal.

Through the 1980’s and into the 90’s Doncaster Belles  were the team featuring the most with wins in 1983, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1992 and 1994, they were also runners up in 1984, 1985, 1986, 1991 and 1993.

1993 saw Arsenal win the cup for the first time beginning our record breaking run which I hope we extend on Sunday.  To date we have won the competition 14 times and have been runners up twice.

Year Winner Runners up Score
1993 Arsenal Doncaster Belles 3 – 0
1995 Arsenal Liverpool 3 – 2
1998 Arsenal Croydon 3 – 2
1999 Arsenal Southampton Saints 2 – 0
2001 Arsenal Fulham 1 – 0
2004 Arsenal Charlton Athletic 3 – 0
2006 Arsenal Leeds United 5 – 0
2007 Arsenal Charlton Athletic 4 – 1
2008 Arsenal Leeds United 4 – 1
2009 Arsenal Sunderland 2 – 1
2010 Everton Arsenal 3 – 2
2011 Arsenal Bristol Academy 3 – 0
2013 Arsenal Bristol Academy 3 – 0
2014 Arsenal Everton 2 – 0
2016 Arsenal Chelsea 1 – 0
2018 Chelsea Arsenal 3 – 1

Chelsea are relative newcomers to the FA Cup winners slot, as indeed are Manchester City.  Chelsea have two wins the first in the 2014/15 season when they beat Notts County 2 – 1 and their 2018 win against us.  They have been runners up twice as well in 2012 losing 3 – 2 on penalties to Birmingham City and in 2016 against us.

I have been at the two finals when we played Chelsea, I was also in Nottingham when we played them in the Continental Cup Final in 2019 and I am seriously hopinge that we will be able to extract a level of revenge for the defeats in 2018 and 2019.  In 2016 my late wife and I were directly in line behind Danny Carter’s magnificent curling shot which brought us the 14th win.