Hollie, Alice, Lily and Ellie: Stories of stranded female footballers booted from club

From left to right: Hollie Davidson, Ellie Errington, Lily Lucas and Alice Burrell
-Credit: (Image: Family)

Hollie, Alice, Lily and Ellie are proud female footballers - now stranded without clubs after their teams were slashed from Thornaby FC.

The girls are just four of over 100 females devastated after Thornaby FC's decision on Sunday night to remove all the non-male teams due to "staffing" and "events of the last 12 months". The girls' parents have slammed the ruling as "disgusting" and a backwards step in the game, with England player Beth Mead MBE wading in to their defence too.

The uproar began after a controversial statement from Thornaby FC was posted onto its Facebook page: "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 and 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."

Youngsters Hollie Davidson, Alice Burrell, Lily Lucas and Ellie Errington are just some of the girls left without a club. Here are their stories and what their devastated parents have to say.


Hollie, 15, from Thornaby, plays for the Under 15s team as centre mid or centre back.

Her mum Clair Davidson branded the decision "disgusting". She said: "They've had a fantastic season and just won their third trophy yesterday. As we finished the tournament yesterday the girls were all buzzing and in really high spirits.

"We got pulled onto a call and it was announced the committee voted to get rid of all the female teams. Now over 100 girls have been left without a football team. It's such a shame, it's disgusting really.

"The support from other clubs has been amazing, people have been saying 'bring them to this club' but some parents can't do that because of travel. The passion from the coaches who want these girls to succeed is unreal but now it's all in turmoil."


Little Alice Burrell is 11 years old and plays right wing for Thornaby FC Under 11s Girls.

Her fuming mum Michelle Burrell, 44, a teaching assistant, said: "We are absolutely devastated by the decision of Thornaby FC to end all girls teams. Alice joined Thornaby just a year ago but in that year a passion for football has been truly ignited.

"She loves it all - the training, the matches, the new friends- everything about the game. These girls deserve so much more and have had the opportunity to play snatched away from then. What happened to This Girl Can? Clearly not in Thornaby."


Striker Lily Lucas, 15, from Middlesbrough, is Thornaby FC's under 15s captain. Her mum Nikki Lucas blasted the move as "regressive" and said the team is "devastated".

She told Teesside Live: "It's so regressive. I can't understand how in this day and age we're still battling this. What a knock for the girls and the women. It was only a few weeks ago our girls were sitting in the Riverside Stadium watching Thornaby women play their county cup final. They were sat thinking they might be able to play there one day. It's their future and it's as if it's just been wiped away from them.

"We are absolutely gutted the girls had an amazing tournament yesterday. They had done so well but they had to come home to this news. The shine was completely taken off their day and what they achieved. As parents we're gutted. A lot of us have been in girls' football since the girls were little and this team is so close.

"Everybody gets on, it's not just parents; it's grandparents, siblings, aunties - they all come along and watch the girls and we have this big support network. It's all been taken away from them and the girls are devastated."


Ellie, 14, from Middlesbrough, plays left back for the under 15s team after starting as a little kid of six-years-old.

Her mum Gemma McLarendescribed being in "disbelief" at the decision, saying: "It was a shock and it's really sad. Ellie has been playing since she was about six years old. It's part of our lives.

"It was just disbelief and I was having to explain it to Ellie quickly before it was released on social media. You could just see the upset on her face. We were just trying to reassure her that we would try our best to keep the team together and find her a different club to go to.

"It's been lovely seeing all the support from other clubs and people who have daughters who play in girls' football. I think even if the club was to retract the decision, is the damage already done?

"They've achieved so much in just one season together. They've got so much to look forward to as well they've got the Aces tournament booked for the 23rd which again is another exciting opportunity. It was a worry but with the parent group and the managers we'll make sure it happens and club together to get them a different kit to go in. The girls were talking in their group chat and said even if we have to go in that kit we'll just put black tape over the name. It's really sad the girls are having to think will that."

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