The crowd figure at Adelaide Oval for Sunday’s AFLW grand final – won by Adelaide by 45 points – is believed to be the largest attendance at a stand-alone women’s sports event in Australia.
The show of force was the latest demonstration of the increasing popularity of women’s sport – in Australia and abroad.
It eclipsed a mark that had stood since Boxing Day in 1920, when 53,000 rocked up to Everton’s Goodison Park to catch a glimpse of Dick Kerr’s Ladies playing St Helen’s Ladies.
Ed: The crowds at the Dick, Kerr Ladies matches were often bigger than men’s games being played on the same day. Less than a year after a match played before 53,000 fans packed into Goodison Park, the Dick, Kerr Ladies, as well as all the other women’s teams that had been established in England, lost their official recognition by the FA who banned the women from using fields and stadiums controlled by FA-affiliated clubs for 50 years (the rule was finally repealed in 1971). Ostensibly, this was due of concerns that women were not physically able to play football, however, it is widely purported that the popularity of the team threatened the men’s game. The grounds that were under the FA’s governance were the only ones that held enough capacity to meet the demand of the women’s games in the early 1920s. Because of the ban, women’s games were relegated to smaller capacity fields with less resources and exposure. The women’s game in England was left on its own until 1993 when the FA took over its administration and funding