What do we mean by “prehistoric”? We mean before FIFA adopted – co-opted, some might say – women’s soccer a couple of decades ago, with its history seemingly dated to the 1990s. Though there has been some coverage of the pre-war era (especially the interesting focus put on Dick, Kerr Ladies), the period between the end of the Second World War and the fall of the Berlin Wall is patchily covered, at least to our knowledge (feel free to leave links to any good books, essays, papers etc in the comments).
Somewhat prompted by this, we have scoured through the archives of the Associated Press, and found some marvelous photos of women’s football from that era, especially the important West German teams of the 1980s along with the “European Ladies Soccer Championship” of 1957 (the first of its kind, and completed before its male counterpart’s inaugural competition) and the NCAA championship in 1985, featuring a player who should be very familiar to Chicago Red Stars fans. Please note, the captions are from the AP archive, as are the photos. If you have access to any other photos from that era, please drop us a line!
The goalkeeper of a West German ladies soccer team goes down in all-out effort to prevent score but the ball rolls through for a goal, Nov. 3, 1957. Moving in are Mary Bee, left, and Margaret Hilton of British team which won match, 4-0, for the European Ladies Soccer Championship in West Berlin, Germany. (AP Photo)
Joan Tench of England, loses her pants during a scrimmage around the England goal during a women's soccer match in London, United Kingdom on Oct. 19, 1969, between England, (represented by Foden Ladies team), and Scotland, (represented by Westthorn United). From left, Jean Ramsey of Scotland who is hauling down the pants; Gillian Cornes of England, (rear in stripes); Joan Tench, and at right, Mary Davenport of Scotland. The football match ended in a 0-0 draw. (AP Photo/Dennis Lee Royle)
Woman Soccer final match in Bergisch Gladbach. The team of SSG 09 Bergisch Gladbach, which won 1:0. (06/18/1977)(AP Photo)
The team of German football club SSG 09 Bergisch-Gladbach celebrates the win of the German Soccer Championship against KGC Duisburg on Sunday, June 15, 1980 in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany. Captain Doris Kresimon holds the trophy and shakes hands with DFB President Egidius Braun. (AP Photo/Fritz Reiss)
West Germany's back Brigitte Klinz, in a desperate attempt, grabs Norwegian striker Hege Flognfeldt's hand to stop the Norwegian forward from making goal attempt during a final round match West Germany vs Norway on October 19, 1981 in the World Women's Invitational Soccer tournament held in Taipei, Taiwan. Germany beat Norway 4:0 (1:0). (AP Photo)
The German national women's soccer team poses prior to their first official match against Switzerland on Wednesday, November 10, 1982 in Koblenz, Germany. Front row from left to right: Ingrid Gebauer, Bettina Krug, Marion Feiden, Rieke Koekkoek, Petra Landers; back row from left to right: Birgit Bormann, Monika Degwitz, Brigitte Klinz, Gaby Dlugi-Winterberg, Doris Kresimon and Anne Trabant-Harbach. (AP Photo)
Action scene with German player Doris Kresimon, right, and an unidentified Swiss player during the West German national women's soccer team first official match against Switzerland on Wednesday, November 10, 1982 in Koblenz, Germany. (AP Photo)
Members of German football club SSG 09 Bergisch Gladbach wave after winning the Women's DFB Cup (German Soccer Cup) on May 31, 1984 in Frankfurt, Germany. They won against VfR Eintracht Wolfsburg with 2:0. (AP Photo/Helmuth Lohmann)
Unidentified members of the German football club SSG 09 Bergisch-Gladbach celebrate with the trophy their 3:1 win against FSV Frankfurt on June 30, 1984 in Frankfurt, Germany. It is their seventh victory of the German Soccer Championship.
The team of German football club SSG 09 Bergisch-Gladbach celebrate their 3:1 win against FSV Frankfurt on June 30, 1984 in Frankfurt, Germany. It is their seventh victory of the German Soccer Championship. (AP Photo/Helmut Fricke)
George Mason University’s forward Chris Tomek, of Wheaton, Ill., 4, defends against a kick by University of North Carolina’s midfielder Marcia McDermott, of McLean, Va., during NCAA Women’s Soccer Championships at George Mason University in Fairfax on Sunday, Nov. 24, 1985. George Mason won the tournament 2-0. (AP Photo/Tom Reed)
Celebrating with the Women's DFB Cup (German Soccer Cup) on June 24, 1989 in Berlin, Germany are members of the German football club TSV Siegen, from left to right: Martina Voss, Andrea Haberless and Silvia Neid. Their team defeated FSV Frankfurt 5:1. (AP Photo/Rainer Klostermeier)