100 young women have this message for Sunderland as they fly vintage cup final banner ahead of Checkatrade Trophy match at Wembley

A hundred young women donned shirts once worn by some of the city's top players - and brandished another piece of Black Cats history - to send a message to Sunderland on International Women's Day.

Saturday, 9th March 2019, 16:02 pm
Updated Saturday, 9th March 2019, 16:08 pm
Fans Museum picture of the girls at St Anthony's Academy.

Pupils from St Anthony's Academy got the chance to wear shirts once belonging to the likes of former Sunderland players Steph Houghton, Jill Scott and Beth Mead as part of a special event marking International Women's Day.

The Fans Museum, based the Monkwearmouth railway station, went along to the school with the shirts, collected by museum founder Michael Ganley, as part of its efforts to reach out into the community and encourage everyone - no matter their gender or background - to come together in the love of sport.

Fans Museum picture of the girls at St Anthony's Academy.

Michael said he'd had an ambition to get 100 young women wearing part his collection of match shirts to create something unique as part of International Women's Day.

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He also took along another piece of Sunderland history - a banner from the 1992 FA Cup Final, in which Sunderland were the underdogs against Liverpool - and got the girls cheering "Come on Sunderland" to add their support for the Black Cats hopes of bringing home the Checkatrade Trophy from Wembley at the end of March.

Michael said: "I think the voice for women in football has become very strong. We've come a long way from a time when women weren't allowed in social club bars and such things, and we're a much better society for it."

He added: "I just see everybody as a fan."

The dedicated Black Cats fan pointed to the days of the First World War, when women's football kept the sport going when men were sent off to fight - only for women's football to then be outlawed by the FA in 1921.

"Thankfully things have changed, and we've seen some massive developments over the past 20 years in women's football," he said.

"We've had some fantastic women players for Sunderland, including Steph Houghton. She's a local woman who played for Sunderland, and she's gone on to captain England. She's captain at Manchester City.

"We've had some brilliant women players for Sunderland and I wanted these young women to know about it - I want everyone to know about it. That's why I've been collecting these shirts. I think the oldest one I have goes back to 1997."

Michael said he had also surprised friends at the Fans Museum when he revealed he had a Sunderland banner from the 1992 FA Cup Final which he was also taking along to St Anthony's to help the girls cheer on the team as they gear up for Wembley.