Orange footballs in front of a goal post

The goalkeeper of a club facing scrutiny over axing its entire women’s and girl’s section has said her team was “completely devastated” upon learning about the decision. 

Over the weekend, Thornaby FC’s committee voted to cut the entire female section from the club, leaving 100 women and girls without a team.

They announced the decision on their Facebook page, which is no longer available to the public, citing low staffing levels and doubts about day to day running of the club as reasons for the vote.

Georgie Shiel, goalkeeper for Thornaby Women, told Beyond The 90: “We were completely devastated about the board’s decision when we found out yesterday.

“As a women’s team player I was gutted to lose my team, however my main concern was with the girls in the youth teams who would be without a club.

“They have all done so well this season and did not deserve to be treated in such a way.”

She also said that she has been “blown away” by the support they have received from the community and professional players alike. 

She added: ”I hope that this raises awareness to the issue in girls and women’s grassroots, and something like this will never happen again.”

Screenshot from Thornaby FC Facebook page
Pic: Adam Salter

The decision to cut girls and women’s football from the club will impact the Under-7s, Under-8s, Under-10s, Under-11s, Under-15s, and the Women’s First Team. 

Thornaby Women expressed gratitude for coaches, volunteers, players, supporters, and sponsors as well as devastation at the news. 

The public announcement was met with outrage towards the committee’s decision and overwhelming support for the women and girls at Thornaby. 

Professional women’s footballers across the country have criticized the decision, including Beth Mead (England/Arsenal), Beth England (England/Spurs), Kirsty Hanson (Scotland/Aston Villa), Maz Pacheco (former England youth/Aston Villa), and Rebecca Salicki (Durham). 

Various football clubs across different leagues have also spoken out in support of Thornaby Women, including Reading Women (Championship), Durham Women (Championship), South Shields Women (Premier Division), and Caversham United (Sunday League).

Abbey Lyle, Manager of Thornaby Women, told the BBC Radio Tees that they were “floored” by the decision. Lyle said that the issue “is certainly not money” and that it is merely a “cop-out” to cite financial reasons as the cause. 

Garry Morris (Chairman of the Thornaby FC board) voted against the decision along with Philip Genery and made the following statement on the club’s Facebook page.

A second screenshot from Thornaby FC's Facebook page
Pic: Adam Salter

The six members that voted to disband women and girls football at the club have since stepped down. 

Their resignations have been well-received by supporters of Thornaby Women and Shiel called it “a step in the right direction”.

Featured image courtesy of Rick Barrett via Unsplash. No changes were made to this image. License details found here.

By Jenny Chen

Jenny recently graduated with a double major in Political Science and in Women’s & Gender Studies. She is formerly a law exchange at the University of Edinburgh. She is currently teaching English in Spain while on her gap years before law school. Her hobbies include writing, traveling, and women’s football.