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The time Droylsden appointed their tea lady as manager

Jonny Keen
ANALYST
Feature
77   //    Timeless

Droylsden's chairman/manager Dave Pace made history when he appointed the club's tea-ladies as temporary managers
Droylsden's chairman/manager Dave Pace made history when he appointed the club's tea-ladies as temporary managers

You may not have heard of Droylsden FC, but they are, in fact, one of the more historic clubs in Manchester.

Founded in 1892, the team have spent most of their days playing in England's lower leagues, with the height of their on-pitch achievements coming in the 2000s, when the club enjoyed some success in the early rounds of the FA Cup and won promotion to the Conference National, a fifth tier league.

But it was several years before, in the year 2000, that Droylsden really wrote themselves into the history books when they became the first men's team in history to appoint a female management team.

It all started in 1999 when the club's long-term chairman/manager, Dave Pace, fell into a dispute with the local Football Association.

Incensed over new rules of player eligibility for local cup competitions, Pace decided to get his own back. Another manager in the same position might have simply boycotted the cup or written a strongly worded letter of protest, but Pace, a man known to ask his dog for tactical advice and score predictions, came up with a different solution.

In order to make a mockery of his adversaries at the FA, Pace vowed that when Droylsden competed in Manchester Cup action, the ladies who usually ran the tea stall would be the ones to take charge of the team.

And so, Pace's partner Stella took the managerial hot seat, assisted by fellow tea-lady Julia. 'She picked her own team all the way through', Pace explained afterwards.

Despite the tea-sellers' lack of experience, they did surprisingly well. In fact, they won the competition, beating Mossley 2-1 in the final, prompting chants of '2-1 to the tea-ladies' from the fans.

20 years later, Pace is still in charge at Droylsden, who have since dropped down to the eighth tier of English football. He occasionally threatens to sack himself as manager during spells of poor form, though there is no word on whether the tea-ladies are in line to replace him.


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