Lowestoft Ladies' incredible FA Cup final triumph remembered in new book
- Credit: Archant Library accessed via Local Recall (localrecall.co.uk)
The incredible story of Lowestoft Ladies' 1982 FA Cup win is being celebrated again with the release of a new book.
The team emerged as one of the pioneers of the women's game during the 1970s and early 1980s, boasting several England internationals.
But their crowning moment came at Loftus Road in 1982 as a crowd of around 1,000 spectators watched them lift the FA Cup after a 2-0 victory over Cleveland Spartans, now known as Middlesbrough Women, in London.
With the side, known as the Waves, at the peak of their powers, and the potential to enjoy years of success ahead, their story was to be tragically cut short.
The history-making squad, which played its home games at Crown Meadow, would never play another season together as Lowestoft's division, the South East Regional League, folded shortly after the cup triumph.
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The team's easterly location saw a number of leagues refuse to allow them to join, forcing the club to fold.
Author Ali Rampling, a digital content manager from Ipswich, stumbled across the team's story by chance while browsing Wikipedia in November 2019.
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Now, the 23-year-old has chronicled the team's remarkable story, from their beginnings on BBC gameshow It's A Knockout, to their bittersweet cup-winning conclusion, as well as their 1995 reunion.
She said: "I was just scrolling through a list of Women's FA Cup winners for a university piece and did a double-take when I saw the name Lowestoft.
"Being a football fan from East Anglia, I couldn't comprehend that Lowestoft had won the FA Cup, and I couldn't believe I didn't know anything about it.
"A quick Google revealed almost nothing.
"There was hardly a trace of Lowestoft Ladies ever having existed, let alone that they were one of the best teams in the country.
"I found some old newspaper articles in the Suffolk Library Archives and discovered that the squad had disbanded after winning the FA Cup.
"It seemed like this incredible untold story and I really wanted to be the person to tell it."
The chapter features interviews with winning captain Jackie Slack, goalscorer Angie Poppy, goalkeeper Rita Fossey, fullback Vicky Johnson, manager Stewart Reynolds, assistant manager Terry Borrett, secretary Mike Pearce and former captain Maureen Martin.
The final, just the 12th to take place after the end of a 50-year ban on women playing football in the UK, was the first to take place at a Football League ground, with Queens Park Rangers' Loftus Road the venue.
The lunchtime kick-off was staged before QPR's Second Division clash with Bolton Wanderers at 3pm later that day.
Following their win, the team were granted a civic reception at Lowestoft Town Hall, where they were warmly greeted by Waveney District Council's fist female chair Daphne Mellor.
Ms Rampling said: "I tracked down members of the team through social media and word of mouth.
"It was brilliant hearing their memories from the time and the remarkable things the team achieved, all while self-funding themselves, balancing football with full-time work, and contending with the mixed attitudes towards women's football at the time.
"A team of trailblazer, Lowestoft deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Doncaster Belles, Southampton WFC and Dick, Kerr Ladies.
"Hopefully, being a part of Football, She Wrote alongside some really extraordinary pieces by some unbelievably talented writers is a nice tribute to everything they achieved."
The book features 20 chapters by women writers, including 10 new writers who were invited to submit their chapters into a competition - as happened in Ms Rampling's case.
Ian Ridley, founder of Floodlit Dreams who are publishing the book in conjunction with the Women in Football organisation, said: "This collection is full of remarkable material that shows the depth of talent among women wanting to write about football.
"They just need platforms, particularly when it comes to books."
A foreword to the book has been written by Gabby Logan, while the cover features an endorsement by former Arsenal and England star and Football Focus presenter Alex Scott, who described the book as "a brilliantly entertaining collection showcasing a wealth of women's voices".
After being relaunched in the 2000s, Lowestoft Ladies folded again in November 2017 after struggling for players during the 2017-18 season.