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The little girl who loved football

by Alison Cornmell

As the whole of the country prepares to cheer on England in the final of the Women’s Euro 2022 championship on Sunday, Knowsley is remembering one of its own female footballing greats – Sylvia Gore.

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.

Sylvia’s remarkable achievements are captured in the newly released Huyton’s Titans book which was launched last week as part of Knowsley’s Sporting Legends Relay.

Mark Campbell, author of Huyton’s Titans said:

“Sylvia’s passion for the game was legendary and she was a real pioneer for girl’s and women’s football – at a time when the game wasn’t open to females. What she achieved, despite adversity, was remarkable and she truly is another example of a Knowsley Sporting Legend.”

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 of course, if she were here, I am sure she would be cheering along the Lionesses with us all on Sunday.”

Sylvia was inducted into the National Football Museum Hall of Fame in 2014 and sadly passed away in 2016. She will always be remembered in Knowsley and way beyond.

Girl’s and women’s football was one of a number of sports celebrated as part of Knowsley’s Sporting Legends Relay which was started officially by local schoolgirl Layla Phillips, who is a member of Whiston Juniors Football League.