Susan Mancey – March 2024 – Mother’s Day.

Better Late Than Never – Playing Football at 78.

Every week that we see Susan come to Walking Football, we are all so inspired by her tenacity, fun and skills for someone who has only started playing at 76!  Susan turns up, whether it’s -2 degrees or pouring with rain and nothing stops her from joining in!

Susan always makes us smile with her dry sense of humour and is just the epitome of the word “inspiration”, winning our Player of the Session for 2023.  Long may she carry on playing football and brightening up our Monday nights!

Here is Susan’s story…

“My name is Susan Mancey and 2 years ago, aged 76, I was persuaded by my family to start playing football.  I play “walking football” which I didn’t even know existed.  I play with the famous Crawley Old Girls (COGS) for an hour every Monday night and it is one of the highlights of my week.  I love playing, even when it is freezing cold or wet.  I would love to play conventional football but I’m not sure my body could take it!

When I meet the other ladies each Monday night and before we even start warming up there is no doubt that I feel “good”.  Playing is such great fun.  It might be considered as non-competitive but we still try and win each match.

There is no doubt that walking football has been beneficial for me, both physically and mentally.  I would encourage others to follow my example.  I’m sure that they won’t regret it. I have managed to persuade a friend, who is 70, to play.  She enjoys it equally.

Susan (r) and Margaret (l) always come together to play.

When I was growing up it was unheard of for women in England to play football.  This continued for several decades.  In all that time I always wanted to play but there was never the opportunity.  Had I been a boy, or man, it would have been easy.  However, for me it was virtually impossible.

From as long back as I can remember, I have always enjoyed watching football – men’s football.  I am lucky to have been around when England won the World Cup in 1966.  It was at this time that I first met by husband.  We started going to Stamford Bridge to watch Chelsea play most of their home games, in all weathers.

We had 2 daughters, born in 1974 and 1977, so I accepted that I could never live out my dream to play through sons.  Just carrying on watching Chelsea whenever we could.  However, to my delight, in their early twenties, both of our daughters joined the newly formed Crawley Down Ladies FC.  Few of the squad were young and had virtually no natural skill whatsoever.  Despite this, they played purely for fun over several seasons.  My husband and I went to watch them.  In the early days it wasn’t uncommon for them to lose 20-0 or even worse but they simply enjoyed playing as a team.  They did reach the Cup Final though but lost.

Then they had families, which prevented them from playing anymore so it was back to watching Chelsea and England.  For a while, we were Chelsea members and travelled up to the new Stamford Bridge frequently.

About 5 years ago, both of our daughters started playing football for COGS.  For one of them, it was life changing.  She was suffering from anxiety but playing football was a lifeline back to normality.  It is certainly a highlight of her week.  It was my daughters that introduced me to walking football with COGS.  I am so grateful that they did.

My granddaughter is passionate about football.  She has been playing for several years.  Now, aged 15, she plays for East Grinstead Meads U16s, who have just won their League.  We often watch her play, both home and away, on Sunday mornings through the season and in all weathers!  This means that there are three female generations of my family that play football.  It would be true to say that we are a Female Football Family.

12 members of my family (three generations) were at Wembley to watch England Women beat Germany in the EURO 2022 Final and last April we were there again to see them win in the Finalissima against Brazil”

I think it’s fair to say that Susan is a real inspiration to her family as well as everyone else!  Keep being amazing, Susan!