'They said we knew more about housework' - trailblazing female referee recognised as county's first
PUBLISHED: 14:30 29 August 2019 | UPDATED: 14:30 29 August 2019
A trailblazing ex-journalist has been hailed as an inspirational ambassador for women in football, 47 years after she trained as a county's first female referee.
Anne Edwards, former EDP journalist and long-serving editor of the Great Yarmouth Mercury, has been recognised as the first female referee in Leicestershire after she qualified nearly half a century ago.
Anne, who lives in Great Yarmouth, was given her qualifications on December 12, 1972, but as a woman, she was not allowed to take charge of games.
However that wasn't the reason she took the exams, instead doing so to cement her position as a sports reporter and later sports editor on the Melton Mowbray Times.
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!
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"That was a red rag to a bull and when I told my editor he contacted Leicestershire and Rutland County Fa and signed me up for a referee's course - which I passed first time."
This summer, Leicestershire FA presented Anne with a special framed certificate acknowledging 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 were not aware of Anne's qualification and discovered it in the 1973-74 referees handbook. She was the sole woman.
Anne contacted the county team 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."
Anne was presented with her gifts by Jamie Clarke, LRCFA's Business Development Officer.