After successfully storming their way through the competition at a grassroots football tournament, Thornaby FC Women’s under 15s were on top of the world on Sunday night. 

But just hours after scoring their third trophy at the Chester-le-Street 7v7 Tournament, their joy quickly turned to anger after learning Thornaby FC had decided to axe all women's teams. 

Leaving over 100 female players without a club, the controversial decision left stunned parents, players, and fans alike in “utter shock,” with Lioness Beth Mead and Paralympic athlete Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson voicing their fury. 

Under 15 players Lily Lucas, Hollie Davidson, and Ellie Errington are just three of the over 100 young footy fans hit by the sudden news over the weekend.

Their parents spoke to the D&S on Monday about the “disgraceful” decision to scrap the club - saying it “took the shine” off their victory. 

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Striker Lily, 15, is the captain of the under 15s and was left “absolutely gutted” by the news, according to mum Nikki Lucas.

The 48-year-old said: “It is disgraceful. We had no inkling that anything was going on at all.

“She was just absolutely gutted. She was angry that we still in this day and age feel that women are second best in football. They should be given the same amount of respect.” 

The Middlesbrough mother - who lives in Longlands - said it has been “unbelievable” to see the backing from sports stars and the Teesside community. 

She continued: “It’s been quite emotional. We have a parents' group chat and every time someone sees something we keep sharing.” 


‘We were all just gobsmacked’

Hollie Davidson - a central midfielder or centre-back - was yet another teen left upset by the news, with her mother Clair saying: “Hollie was disappointed, she’s been going up with the women’s first team for training.” 

Ingleby Barwick resident Clair continued: “It’s just really disappointing. Hollie chose Thornaby because it is her hometown and it has a pathway for women.

“All of a sudden we got a sense something wasn’t right after we had to fund to play the last few games. We had the tournament and then we got pulled onto a call to say that the club is no longer. We were all just gobsmacked.”

The 41-year-old added that the girls have been left “gutted” by the move as they were due to play at Aces Nationals Football Tournament on June 23 - something that is now up in the air. 

The team wants to “stay together” and is now trying to find a way that the group can potentially play the tournament without the Thornaby FC name - even if it means covering over the logo on their current football kits. 

Left Back Ellie Errington, 14, was in “utter shock” after hearing the news according to mum Gemma McLaren, who said: “I can’t believe that in 2024 my daughter is suffering because of her sex in football.” 

Despite the setback, Gemma is trying to stay positive, despite her teen daughter having her “mouth open in disbelief” when she heard the news. 

Thankfully, the support has been overwhelming: “There has been just so much support out there - and that’s just how big girls football. 

“This year has been really successful for the under 15s in particular. There’s a women’s pathway here and that’s why she chose to go to Thornaby, not all clubs can offer that.” 

Abbey Lyle, who has been Thornaby FC Women's first team manager for the last year alongside Claire Streeter, also told of her shock on Monday. 

“It was almost like you laugh - surely it can’t be true,” the Billingham woman said, recalling the moment she heard of the news. 

“We’ve just watched the women at St James’ Park, and at Wembley… it was a shock.”

Meanwhile, Tanni Grey-Thompson said that the decision simply seemed “unfair” and Beth Mead argued that the young girls “deserve better” - saying she was “disgusted” by the move. 


Certain board members ‘fought tooth and nail’ to avoid axe

Phil Genery, member of the committee, since confirmed on Monday that six members who voted to axe Thornaby FC’s women's teams have since stepped down. 

Only himself, and chairman Gary Morris - who both fought against the decision - remain at the club. The D&S understands that Mr Morris called for their resignations last night. 

Speaking to the D&S, Phil said that those who voted against the motion to scrap the women’s teams “fought tooth and nail” across the last month to stop the decision being made. He added that the club is working with a representative of Thornaby FC Women and said: “We are doing everything we can to re-intake the women's and children's team.” A further announcement will be made at a future date. 

An initial post on Facebook from Thornaby FC said: “The committee held an emergency meeting with all concerned and discussed the whole future of the club including the events over the last 12 months.

“After discussions, it was felt the only way to continue was without the women and running with only the men’s team as before they came to the club also with the Staffing levels very low the day to day running of the club is in doubt.”