On January 24, Lucy Clark was announced as the new manager of Sutton United. With the appointment, the former referee makes history as the first trans woman to manage a team in any of the top five divisions of English women’s football.
Clark joins Sutton United as they are currently battling relegation from the London and South East Regional League. Despite the challenging position, the role is still “a dream come true” for the manager as she is returning to her childhood club.
“Back in the 1980s playing computer games, I would edit the teams to be Sutton United,” she explained.
The 51-year-old previously made history as football’s first trans referee, however, she always set her sights on returning to management, having coached her first team aged just 16.
“The plan was just to do some refereeing to have a look at players before I got back into managing, but obviously the refereeing went well and I had some fabulous times,” she told BBC Sport.
“And I think that has helped, I have refereed in the women’s game for many years so I have seen many clubs and how they do things, now I am taking this position on at Sutton.”
Delighted to announce @lucyclarkref as our new Manager. Great to have a lifelong U’s fan on board 💛
— Sutton United Women F.C. (@SuttonUtdWomen) January 24, 2024
Clark also set up TRUK United FC, a trans-inclusive amateur football team. She credits the club with giving her “the bug of being a manager again,” and making her think “it was time” to return.
“When the Sutton job came up I took a week to think, but I thought, this is just perfect. I put my application in, and thankfully I have been successful,” she said.
While Clark’s appointment comes at a time when transgender people are facing increasing barriers to participation in sport, she says that she has largely received messages of support and congratulations.
The amount of good luck messages has been amazing and I thank you all. 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 #footballfamily
— Lucy Clark. (@lucyclarkref) January 25, 2024
Regarding negative reactions and backlash, the Sutton manager commented, “There is nothing anyone can say to me that I haven’t heard or seen already from when I came out. There’s already been a few of the Twitter warriors who have said their piece, I let them crack on. I’ve been known as the trans referee, and that’s gone fine.
“Sometimes the words can get to you, but I’m thick skinned – I hit the block button and get on with it,” she continued.
“I’m prepared to deal with (abuse) should it happen, so we crack on. I’m not going to stop doing something I love because of who I am.”
Sutton United played their first game under Lucy Clark on Sunday, January 28, losing 3-1 at home to league leaders Fulham. Sutton are now ninth in the table, just six points above the two teams in the relegation zone.
🎥 𝗙𝗶𝗿𝘀𝘁 𝗜𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝘃𝗶𝗲𝘄 | Lucy Clark 💛
“It’s a dream come true.”@lucyclarkref shares her delight at being appointed Manager of Sutton United Women and her thoughts on todays performance against Fulham.
— Sutton United Women F.C. (@SuttonUtdWomen) January 28, 2024
© 2024 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.
During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.
GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.