The FA will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup at Sunday’s Final between Arsenal and Chelsea, and recognising captains of former finalist teams will be a central theme of the day.
Lead sponsor Vitality will pay tribute to the competition’s 28 winning captains by displaying their names on the iconic steps that lead up to the Royal Box. From the competition’s first winner, Southampton’s Lesley Lloyd in 1971, to the most recent winner, Manchester City’s Steph Houghton in 2020, each player’s name will be visible to recognise their achievements in lifting the famous trophy.
Finalist captains over the last five decades have also been invited to attend the showpiece fixture by The FA, with 20 accepting the invitation.
As part of the pre-match ceremony, the captains from the very first Final, Southampton’s Lloyd and Elsie Cook of Stewarton Thistle, will bring out the Vitality Women’s FA Cup trophy and place it on the plinth.
At half-time all the captains in attendance will be presented to the crowd, with an opportunity for fans to celebrate the trailblazers and acknowledge their contribution to the game.
The FA has also worked with five of the winning captains from each decade of the competition, asking each to write a letter titled ‘Dear Women’s FA Cup’. Five-time winner and Manchester City defender Steph Houghton, Arsenal’s nine-time winner Faye White, two-time winner Hope Powell, Doncaster Belles 1983 winner and Honorary President Sheila Edmunds, and 1971 winner Lesley Lloyd have taken part.
Watch a video about it their messages here:
Sections of the letters will also be published in Sunday’s matchday programme and they will be donated to the National Football Museum in Manchester after the Final.
Lesley Lloyd (right), winner of the first Women’s FA Cup, said:
“It is amazing to think 50 years have passed since I lifted the trophy in May 1971 at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre.
“Writing my letter to the Women’s FA Cup brought back a lot of special memories for me. The competition means a great deal and I cannot wait to be at Wembley Stadium on Sunday with many other former players to be a part of the celebrations.”
Kelly Simmons, The FA’s Director of the Women’s Professional Game, said:
“The Women’s FA Cup is one of the most admired competitions in the world and to be able to celebrate the 50th anniversary this weekend with tens of thousands of fans at Wembley Stadium is brilliant.
“It is going to be a special moment when we see the former captains presented to the crowd. There’s no doubt they are all trailblazers. They have all played a significant part in the competition’s history and it is incredible to hear the emotion and passion they still retain for the Cup.
“Sunday will give us a chance to reflect on the competition’s history; it will also be a chance to look forward. Each year, the competition grows, and we can’t wait to see what the next 50 years brings.”