Lionesses hero Ellen White was not allowed to play in her league aged nine because she was a GIRL

The Lioness banned by football bosses when she was just a cub: How nine-year-old England hero Ellen White was not allowed to play in her local league because she was a GIRL… despite already being in the Arsenal Academy

  • White was banned from the Chiltern Youth League in 1988 for being a girl
  • She would go on to become the all-time Lionesses top goalscorer
  • The striker’s father, John White, expressed his anger at the time
  • The league was accused of ‘sex discrimination’ and ‘not keeping up with the times’ 

The Lionesses’ all-time leading goalscorer Ellen White was banned from playing football by her local league when she was aged just nine – because she was a girl.

Despite already being in the Arsenal Academy and captaining the under-11 ladies side for the Gunners, White was banned from playing alongside her male friends due to a ruling by the Chiltern Youth League, who had concerns over the use of mixing changing rooms.

Under the headline ‘soccer girl banned by league for boys’, the glum-looking future star appeared in her Arsenal kit on the front page of the Bucks Herald in 1998, dismayed at the judgement by league chairman Chris Davidson.

He told the paper at the time that the club could appeal the ban to the Bedfordshire FA, but he insisted: ‘Our league has made the decision and we are standing by it’.

Little could he know, the young White would go on to be the Lionesses top scorer, and be watched by more than 17million viewers holding the Euro 2022 trophy some 34 years later.

White, 33, who has been a stalwart of women’s football, started up front against Germany in front of a record-breaking 87,192 fans wearing the iconic number nine on her back.

A 1988 front page from the Bucks Herald features a nine-year-old Ellen White desperate to play football but told she can't play in her local league because she is a girl

A 1988 front page from the Bucks Herald features a nine-year-old Ellen White desperate to play football but told she can’t play in her local league because she is a girl

Ellen White, pictured with her aunt Lizzie, was banned from playing in the Chiltern Youth League. She would go on to become the all-time leading Lionesses goalscorer

Ellen White, pictured with her aunt Lizzie, was banned from playing in the Chiltern Youth League. She would go on to become the all-time leading Lionesses goalscorer

The Lionesses won the nation’s first major tournament since the men’s win in 1966 with a 2-1 triumph hailed as one for the ages.

White would only temporarily be knocked back by the ban she faced all those years ago.

She would go on to be one of the most recognisable names in women’s football, not only for her record number of goals but her trademark goggles celebration which has been emulated by young fans across the country.

White, 33, wore the number nine shirt for the Lionesses in their 2-1 triumph over Germany to lift the Euro 2022 trophy

White, 33, wore the number nine shirt for the Lionesses in their 2-1 triumph over Germany to lift the Euro 2022 trophy

The stalwart of women's football kisses the silverware in front of a record crowd of more than 87,000 fans

The stalwart of women’s football kisses the silverware in front of a record crowd of more than 87,000 fans

White has previously revealed that the celebration was based off her love of German football where she emulated Anthony Modeste’s goggle celebration after watching him score a late winner for Cologne.

Having scored 52 goals for the Lionesses, she boasts an impressive club history too, having worn the shirt for Chelsea and Arsenal early on in her career and most recently Manchester City.

The unearthed article reveals that White had scored 100 goals in the previous season amid the accusations of sex discrimination after Chiltern Youth League refused her registration.

Young fans have been spotted emulating White's trademark goggles celebration which she took inspiration off Anthony Modeste for during his time at Cologne FC

Young fans have been spotted emulating White’s trademark goggles celebration which she took inspiration off Anthony Modeste for during his time at Cologne FC

Leading the protest was her father who at the time was chairman of the club that his daughter simply wanted to play football for. 

Mr White reveals to the Bucks Herald that his daughter was very upset with the decision. Aylesbury Town’s secretary at the time, Julie Oxley, also shared her outrage, suggesting that the local league were ‘not moving with the times’.

Football commentator Ollie Bayliss retweeted the historical article and wrote: ‘I remember my junior team playing against Ellen White in 1997 or 98. She put about 8 goals past us and was far and away better than anyone we’d ever played.’

White’s two goals both came in the 8-0 demolition of Norway in their second game of the tournament, leaving her one shy of Wayne Rooney’s 53-goal England men’s record.

She pipped the impressive Alessia Russo to a place in the starting eleven with the Manchester United forward replacing her after 56 minutes.

White’s success with the Lionesses adds to her her two Women’s Super League titles and two FA Cups as well as playing a role in the quarter-final success with Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics.

She would also go to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics where the team suffered further quarter-final heartbreak, with White netting twice.

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