Object of the Week: Sylvia Gore’s cap Calendar
12 Apr 2023
By Maisie Joel
What is the item?
Sylvia Gore’s international cap from the England v Scotland game at Ravenscraig Stadium in 1972: the first recognised international since the FA ‘ban’ in 1921.
Who is Sylvia Gore?
Sylvia scored England’s first goal against Scotland in that game.
She paid around £2,000 to participate in trial matches that led to her selection and her goal contributed to England winning the match 3-2. Sylvia started with the Manchester Corinthians and later played for Fodens. Upon retirement, Sylvia managed the Wales international women’s team, in 2013 she was awarded an MBE for her services to women’s association football and in 2014 introduced into the National Football Museum Hall of Fame.
You can read more about Sylvia here.
What is her legacy?
Sadly, Sylvia died in September 2016, but the work and advancements she made still live on with the development of the women’s game.
In November 2022 it was the the 50th anniversary of the Lionesses’ first official international against Scotland. As part of these celebrations, sixty past players received their own legacy caps, finally giving many of these pioneers the recognition they deserve.
The legacy caps are different than the one displayed above. They are red in colour and display the official England badge, as well as the player’s unique legacy number.
What is the significance of the cap?
The cap highlights the difference between those given to the women by the Women’s Football Association, and the equivalents bestowed upon the men by the FA. One of the major differences is the original women’s caps from the first game against Scotland in 1972 were unofficial and homemade. These caps were made by Flo Bilton, a women’s football pioneer and a founding member of the WFA. Bilton managed to acquire a men’s England cap from her neighbour Raich Carter to make her own copies of the caps for the female England players.
Left: One of Nat Lofthouse’s England caps from 1950. Right: Sue Lopez’s cap from a fixture against Northern Ireland in 1973.
Above are both the men’s and women’s caps: just by looking at the side by side, the difference in quality is noticeable. The cap on the left, the England men’s cap, is adorned with the official England badge and additional detailing: clear signs that the cap was professionally manufactured.
On the other hand, caps from Sylvia Gore’s era were homemade, as evidenced by the seams and embroidery of the ‘Scotland 1972’ and ‘N. Ireland 1973’ respectively.
The players who are still alive receiving their own legacy caps and being officially recognised by the FA is what Flo Bilton dedicated her life towards, and shows that significant progress has been made.