As a part of International Women’s Day, Southampton FC reached out to some of our female fans.
We wanted to hear their first-hand experience of supporting the club through the years.
Louise Burke started following Saints in 1989 and is also a member of the Saints Voice Supporter Panel.
What were your earliest memories of following the club?
I started following Saints in 1989 and we used to have our tickets in Family Centre. One of my most memorable early games was when we beat Liverpool at home 4-1 – Rodney Wallace, Matt Le Tissier and Paul Rideout were all on the scoresheet.
How much of a role has the club played in your life and can you give some examples?
It’s played a huge part in my life as I have been going to football matches every season since 1989. Both my parents are season ticket holders and so is my brother and now my two sons are too – it brings us together as a family and is a huge topic of conversation.
What are some of your most treasured memories following Saints?
I have many but here are my top three:
• Winning away on a penalty shoot-out at Manchester United. My brother and I drove up there. There were only a few hundred Saints fans but it was a very quiet Old Trafford at the end.
• Matt Le Tissier scoring the last ever goal at The Dell.
• Rickie Lambert being carried through a sea of fans when we won promotion back to the Premier League.
Explain why you are now a Season Ticket holder/member and when you first got your Season Ticket/membership?
It’s a way of life and is just a huge part of my family
How has your experience watching Saints changed over the years?
I used to go to a lot more away games before I got married and had my family so it was probably a lot more sociable before and after the game but now I go with my boys which I love as it’s something that we all have in common.
In what ways do you feel that watching live football is more inclusive for young families and women in particular?
There are a lot more young families and women watching now so there is a far greater acceptance, you don’t feel in the minority so it’s comfortable.
What stereotypes have you encountered as a female football fan?
That as I’m female I don’t have a clue about football or know what the off-side rule is. There is often a general assumption that women don’t know much about football. That said when people realise you do, I don’t often feel that I am treated any differently.
To what extent have stereotypes towards female football fans changed during your time supporting the club?
I think that over time there has been a greater acceptance of women and that has grown even more with the women’s football, women being pundits and TV presenters.
What would you say to the younger generation who might feel that following Saints or playing football is not for them, in particular girls and women?
Think again – it’s an awesome experience and if you have never experience live football then you absolutely have to try it. My 12-year-old daughter plays football and loves it. It’s a great team game and women’s football is definitely on the rise.