Women's football pioneer Emma Clarke and younger sister Florence honoured with blue heritage plaque

30 November 2019

Women's football pioneer Emma Clarke and younger sister Florence honoured with blue heritage plaque

Emma Clarke - Britain's first black female footballer

Monday 2 December 2019 marks the 143rd anniversary since the birth of Emma Clarke, Britain's first black female footballer.

To commemorate pioneering footballer Emma, her younger sister Florence and the entire British Ladies Football Team of 1895, a blue heritage plaque will be placed on Campsbourne School, Nightingale Lane. The school is the site of the former Crouch End FC, the club where Emma and Florence once played their football.

The date to install the Nubian Jak Heritage plaque was specifically chosen as a way of celebrating, and remembering, a woman who left an indelible mark on football in Great Britain. However, there still remains some debate around Emma's roots - an issue that reflects poorly on how women of colour have historically been overlooked and under-celebrated.

It was on a chilly spring afternoon in 1895 when a North London park became the venue for a football match which would make British sporting history.

Saturday 23 March 1895 was the date, and a match took place on Nightingale Lane in which  women representing the North beat those from the South by a 7-1 scoreline.

By a twist of fate, it was Southern-born player who would later become the most famous of the 22 players who took to the field that day. Her name was Emma Clarke, and by taking part in that match, Emma went on record as being the first named black female footballer in the UK.

CEO of the Nubian Jak Community Trust, Dr Jak Beula said: “Although it gives me great pleasure to honour Emma Clarke with a Nubian Jak Community Trust blue heritage plaque, the plaque is also tribute to her sister Florence Clarke, to other footballing pioneers like Carrie Boustead, and for all the pioneering women of the last century and this, who had to overcome a number of barriers just to enjoy playing the game they loved.”

Historian and leading authority on Emma Clarke, Stuart Gibbs said: “Uncovering the story of Emma Clarke has been quite a journey, working with limited information there has been a few false steps along the way.

"But together with others in the field, we now have a good understanding of Emma and side that she played for. Girls coming to the sport today can take inspiration from the fact that diversity has existed in women's football for almost as long as the women's game itself.“

To find out more about Emma Clarke click here.

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