As the Women’s World Cup kicks off in Australia and New Zealand, Knowsley is remembering its own female footballing great – Sylvia Gore. Sylvia was not only part of the first ever Women’s England Team but actually scored the first ever goal in 1972 and went on to inspire hundreds more young girls to take up the sport she loved.
Sylvia was born in Prescot in 1944 and encouraged to participate in the game by her father and uncle who both played for Prescot Cables. She would attend matches with them both and run onto the pitch during half time. Affectionately known by Prescot Cables fans simply as the ‘the little girl who loved football’ Sylvia had a life-long passion for the game at a time when the FA had banned female players from its pitches.
Despite being stopped from joining her own school team, Sylvia persevered and went on to join Manchester Corinthians as a teenager and played charity matches all over the world. In 1972 she had trials for the first England team and made history by scoring the team’s first ever goal in their first match.
When Gore’s playing career was over, she went on to manage the Welsh women’s national team from 1982 to 1989. She was a member of the FA Women’s Committee for 20 years, became the first female director at the Liverpool County Football Association and in the 2000 New Year’s Honours list was made an MBE for services to girls’ and women’s football.
During her career Sylvia also worked as a football development officer at Knowsley Council. Cllr Graham Morgan, Leader of Knowsley Council said:
“Sylvia was a phenomenal role model for so many women and girls who simply wanted the opportunity to play a game they loved. During her time at the Council, she put her skills and passion to great use and helped to advance the opportunities available to females in sport.
“I think she would be immensely proud of how much more inclusive the game has now become and would be thrilled at the thought of us all cheering on the England team in the World Cup.”
Sylvia was inducted into the National Football Museum Hall of Fame in 2014 and sadly passed away in 2016.
In 2022, as part of its celebrations as the Liverpool City Region Borough of Culture, Knowsley Council with the blessing and support of Sylvia’s family, set up the Sylvia Gore Cup. The tournament for schoolgirls in Knowsley was organised by Volair and the Knowsley School Sports Partnership with the first ever grand finals taking place in May 2023.
On hand to present the tournament shield to the deserving winners was football pundit and former England international footballer Sue Smith who was herself coached by Sylvia as a youngster. She said:
“Sylvia Gore was my first football manager and someone I became lucky enough to call a good friend. I feel incredibly honoured to have known her personally and had the opportunity to be inspired by her passion and determination. She was a huge inspiration to me and I hope that her story will do the same for many girls today.”
Sylvia will always be remembered in Knowsley and way beyond. Her England cap and shirt are now on display in Prescot Shopping Centre.