Image: Flickr / Mikey

Let Girls Play? Outcry as Teesside football club vote to abolish women’s teams

A non-league team from Stockton in Teesside have been met with criticism after voting to abolish all tiers of their women’s teams.

Thornaby FC, whose men’s team play in the tenth tier of English football, decided by a majority of their committee to get rid of their under 7s, 8s, 10s, 11s, and 15s girls’ teams and their women’s club.

News of the decision emerged yesterday evening, when Thornaby FC Women announced the move on Facebook.

The official club account responded soon after, stating that the call had been made following an “emergency meeting” concerned with the “whole future of the club”, with low levels of staff given as the justification for the decision.

Last year, the club’s ground Teesdale Park suffered a huge arson attack, devastating the grounds and leading to a £130,00 repair bill.

Local Championship team Middlesbrough FC were among those to step in and offer their support, supplying furniture and goals to help the club recover.

The decision to close their women’s and girls’ outfits has been met by almost unanimous opposition

The decision to close their women’s and girls’ outfits has been met by almost unanimous opposition, including from the club’s chairman Garry Morris, who took to X (formally known as Twitter) to state his own personal opposition to the decision. The motion is believed to have been raised by club chief executive, Trevor Wing.

Local resident and former Paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson was amongst those to criticise the decision, commenting on the platform: “This is so sad. Where do the girls go now.”

England international Beth Mead, who is also from the region and has funded several scholarships at local Teesside University, was also among those to state their opposition, responding on X: “Disgusted to see this decision, the women’s game is on the up but we still have committees making these horrible decisions. It’s not good enough, these young girls deserve better. I’d love to send the team a signed England shirt to keep them inspired.”

Thornaby will now come under pressure to further justify their decision, including from many of those who supported the club following its fire in 2023. Already, six of the club’s board members who voted to scrap the women’s side have stepped down.

Labour’s parliamentary candidate and former MP for Middlesbrough and Thornaby East Andy McDonald has stated that he will be seeking a meeting with the club to identify “how we can work together to retain football for all in Thornaby.”

“The women’s game in this country has sky rocketed in recent years and we need to keep pushing it forward towards the day it is genuinely on a level pegging with the men’s game. I will be doing all I can to assist and make sure that in Thornaby we go forwards not backwards.”

The club has been contacted for comment.


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