Transgender manager Lucy Clark makes women’s football history

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04: Stonewall Rainbow laces on December 04, 2019 in Wolverhampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

LGBTQ+ icon Lucy Clark is the new manager of London and South regional Women’s Premier Division side Sutton United. The 51-year-old becomes the first transgender manager appointed to a women’s football club in the top five tiers of the English pyramid.

Clark is also known for making history as the first transgender referee in the sport and has officiated fixtures as high as tier three.

As a UEFA B licence holder, no one can argue that Clark is not qualified. Not only does it require an expansive knowledge of the game itself, the UEFA course has high standards. A minimum of 120 hours of education followed by 95 hours spent with interactive exercises. That’s not to mention the hours and hours of practical club-based demands.

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Clark has supported Sutton United since childhood and is being referred to as the ‘perfect appointment’ by some fans in response to the club’s announcement. There’s definitely no accusations of a lack of passion regarding the appointment.

“Football’s like my church: some people would see a church and marvel at a church. I can see a stadium, and marvel at it,” Clark told Guinness last year.

A trailblazer in football

With that sort of passion for the beautiful game, Sutton United have undoubtedly got themselves a manager who has equal parts heart as well as grit. There is a certain unwanted pressure that comes with being a trailblazer in the way Clark is.

“I am a transgender woman and a referee, so I have the toughest skin you could ever imagine. I’m tough-skinned, I can take a few bullets for the community.”

It’s these sort of indications of leadership and sheer bottle that should garner excitement from the Sutton United fans. Clark has also discussed the inclusiveness of the women’s football community and has urged the men’s game to take notes.

“Male football needs to take a look at the women’s game, which is so inclusive,” she said. “And the world of sports needs to show that they are inclusive all year round, not just one day in a year.”

Reception to the appointment

Sutton currently sit ninth in a league that holds 12 teams, and Clark will have to hit the ground running if the U’s are to save their season.

There has been an air of positivity around the appointment from the majority of the football community. Clark has filtered out any messages of abuse.

“Sometimes the words can get to you, but I’m thick-skinned. I hit the block button and get on with it,” Clark told the Daily Mail.

“The amount of managers from other teams and even Chairman that have dropped me a message or phone call has been humbling and just shows what a great game and inclusive space women’s football is.”

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