Original certificate

Leicestershire & Rutlands 1st Female Referee is recognised

47 years ago Anne paved the way for others to follow

A woman who became Leicestershire's first female referee 47 years ago has been described as a trailblazer and an inspirational ambassador for women in football.

Anne Edwards qualified and received her referees certificate on December 13, 1972 - but as a female she was not allowed to take charge of games.
However, that wasn't the reason she gained the certificate, instead it was to cement her position as sports reporter and later sports editor on the Melton Mowbray Times newspaper.

She said: "I was 20 years old at the time and enjoyed reporting football games, but had to endure a lot of stick and banter - mainly about women not understanding the rules and knowing more about housework! 

"Well, that was a red rag to a bull and when I told my editor he contacted the Leicestershire and Rutland County FA and signed me up for a referees course - which I passed first time."

During the summer, Anne was presented with a special framed certificate to acknowledge her "first" in the county as well as a letter of thanks from past and present female referees.

Referee development officer, Natasha Wilson said: "You are the first female referee who has paved the way for further inspiring women to be involved in refereeing football... so on behalf of every single one of us thank you!"

The current County FA team was unaware of Anne's qualification and discovered it in the 1973/74 referees handbook; the sole woman, and then Miss Anne Hollingworth.
Anne had contacted them after watching the Women's World Cup games.

She said: "I was so proud of the players and their fair play and conduct throughout the games, but more so of the female referees. They were imposing, controlled and fair. I was blown away and contacted the FA to find out if I had been lost forever in the mist of time - or was still in the the dust of the archives.

"When I give talks I always show my referees certificate and talk about the qualification.

"Then Natasha emailed to say she had found me in the 1973/74 handbook; and she and her team hadn't known about me or my story and I was absolutely thrilled to receive the framed certificate with the County FA's pennant."

Anne, who retired as editor of the Great Yarmouth Mercury newspaper 16 months ago, was presented with her gifts by Jamie Clarke, LRCFA's Business Development Officer.
She continues to live in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.

For more details about qualifying as a referee, contact Natasha Wilson on 0116 284 4953 or referees@leicestershirefa.com


Anne being presented with her Framed acknowledgement

Original certificate