Milton Keynes Heritage Programme
Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the stories of women’s football in Milton Keynes are being collected as part of the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 heritage programme.
A game for us all: collecting project and exhibition
Women’s football in Milton Keynes is as popular as ever, and thanks to MK Dons Sports and Education Trust, local women are spoiled for choice, with recreational football sessions running most days of the week.
To capture the experiences of the women who play football today, a team from Milton Keynes Museum along with photographer Katherine Green attended some of these community sessions, interviewing players about what motivated them to get involved and to get a sense of what football means to them. Newly commissioned portraits of the women were also captured by Katherine. These stories, along with the photographs, form the content of an exhibition that will be displayed in Station Square throughout the tournament and can also be seen at local libraries (dates below).
Following the shoots, Katherine said:
“I often photograph community sports groups, and each time I am reminded of the important role that they play in people’s lives and in communities as a whole. The sense of camaraderie amongst the women in the football teams here, and the support and friendship that they provided was so evident. I hope by sharing these photographs and stories, it inspires others to get involved and become part of that community.”
The stories captured are varied and powerful, including this example from Sam Raja, a MK United session player.
“I used to play for Milton Keynes Wanderers and had the privilege of playing in FA Cup matches against Luton Town. Work commitments meant I had to stop playing for a period of time but then I played for a league in Dubai in 2016-17. I wanted to get back into fitness and football has always been a massive passion of mine. Women’s football has grown massively over the last 20 years and to see that growth is absolutely amazing. As an Asian woman, I want to raise awareness and encourage others to get involved. It’s so important to pursue your passions.”
Touring exhibition dates:
Central Library – June 16th to July 2nd
Bletchley Library – July 4th to August 8th
Kingston Library – August 9th to September 3rd
Stony Stratford Library – September 6th to October 1st
Milton Keynes Museum has been seeking objects, images and stories related to the history of local women’s football and will continue to collect throughout the tournament and beyond. From trophies and medals, to kit, footballs and match tickets, the Museum is keen to capture a rich insight into the experiences of those who played or supported women’s football in the area through all eras.
For more information and to get in touch with stories or objects you might have, visit the MK Museum website.
Oral history project
Led by Living Archive, 10 local people have been interviewed about their experience of playing and coaching local women’s football. From former Chiltern Valley Ladies players who travelled to the 1971 Women’s World Cup in Mexico as part of an unofficial England team, through to current MK Dons players, the interviews provide a rich insight into the history of the women’s game through time.
To watch the videos and learn more about their amazing experiences, visit the links below:
Contemporary collecting of the tournament
To make sure there is a full record of MK being one of the host cities of the tournament, the team from Milton Keynes Museum will be out and about on match days, capturing everything from official programmes and merchandise to the stories of fans and volunteers.
In addition, photographer Chris Henley will be working with Jen Kavanagh, Community Engagement Heritage Consultant for the programme, to support a group of local young people to photograph the activity taking place on July 27th, the city’s final match day.
If you have anything from the tournament that you’d like to potentially donate to the project, please contact Jen at [email protected].
Commissioned by the Football Association, four of the women who had full oral history interviews conducted by the Living Archive were also interviewed as part of a nationwide memory film project. These short films can be viewed online via the FA’s website.
Women’s Football Podcast
The July episode of Milton Keynes Museum’s podcast delves into the area’s history of women’s football. The museum team take us back to meet the enterprising young women’s teams of the late 1930s. Discover who was dominant, who was nicknamed “the canaries” and how they all let their hair down after games. Under the Grid is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and other platforms, plus you can listen on the Museum’s website, where there is also a transcript.