Another piece of footballing history was made this week when Amy Fearn became the first woman to take charge of a Football League match. Fearn came on in place of referee Tony Bates in the 71st minute, who went off with an injured a calf muscle in the game between Coventry City and Nottingham Forest.
The 31 year-old has been involved in football, and in particular refereeing since she was just 14 and her next ambition is to be refereeing in the Premier League one day.
She said “My next promotion target is running the line in that division [Premier League], but I started out as a ref and that is what I love doing – I want to continue being a referee.”
However, her appearances on the line as a League referee’s assistant for the past four seasons are nothing new. Dorset postmistress Wendy Toms famously ran the line in the Football League and the Premier League in the Nineties.
Fearn continues to referee in the Football Conference, only one promotion away from either refereeing on the National list regularly or running the line in the Premier League, which would be another milestone in football.
Of course football is a male dominated sport in regards to the big leagues around the world but who says that women can’t be involved also. We are still awaiting our first female manager of a major team, but if a female was to take charge of a Premier League game then that gap would finally be bridged.
For all those positives there will always be the those controversial moments but nothing can top the male chauvinist jibe she had directed at her from Luton Town manager Mike Newell back in November 2006. Fearn ignored penalty claims from Newell’s side when she was running the line in their 3-2 home defeat to QPR.
‘It is bad enough with incapable referees and linesmen but if you start bringing women into the game you have big problems,’ complained Newell.
‘This is Championship football. This is not park football. So what are women doing here? It is tokenism for politically correct idiots.’
That comment cost Newell a £6,500 fine from the FA, followed by a severe warning from Luton before a swift apology was made.
I love to see history being made and always view change as being a positive. This is another momentous occasion in football and can only lead on to greater things. It is certainly a good thing for encouraging more women into the game.