The idea for Girlfans came to Jacqui after she attended a match at Anfield and was surprised by the huge number of female supporters in the stands and yet when she watched football on TV the female fans were hardly visible. She and her photographer friend, Alex Hurst, decided to start taking photos of female fans with the aim of giving the supporters visibility and a sense of belonging equal to their male counterparts. This gave life to the fanzine, with each edition focusing on the fans of a different Premier League club.
23% of Premier League match attenders are female
You only need to flip through an edition of Girlfans to realise there isn't a definitive way that women dress for match day. The supporters Jacqui has captured wear everything from full kits to designer trainers, even taking their Chanel and YSL handbags to the match. However, there are a few commonalities she has picked up on: most female supporters buy new clothing from official suppliers, there’s very little customisation of their clothing, and they don’t tend to wear pink.
When asked about her favourite photos from Girlfans, Jacqui said:
“I’m always drawn to the same photographs. The Liverpool supporter wearing the hooded coat and a poppy. She is looking at me directly but has a kind face. Her support of the LFC is so subtle – the lining of her hood is red. The other photograph, taken by Alex, is a French fan in a black beret and leather jacket, she has a ‘Don’t Buy the Sun’ sticker on her jacket. A true protest image. The front cover of the new Man City publication features a supporter who flew in for the game from Sweden. I hope in this photograph I’ve captured her complete joy at being at the Etihad.”
Photos by: (L-R) Jacqui McAssey, Alex Hurst, Jacqui McAssey
Jacqui would describe her work for Girlfans as sitting alongside the new wave of photographers, writers and artists expressing a feminist viewpoint with regards to fashion and football. And since half of female fans have experienced some form of sexism while at a match, according to Fans for Diversity, hopefully celebrating women in this way will help to eliminate sexism in football.
“It is a case of chipping away at it until it becomes normal. At the moment women footballers and the Women’s Euro are having a really positive effect on women being a ‘part of’ football – as a participant or spectator”.
Half of all the online shops of Premier League clubs now have a fashion section
Jacqui has plans to further develop Girlfans including an upcoming collaboration with creative agency, Coney’s Loft, which will feature Tranmere supporters and their recent journey to the play-offs at Wembley. We asked Jacqui if in future she’d consider photographing female sports fans from other countries.
“It would be interesting to document the MLS (Major League Soccer) in North America and the evolving football community in China where a great deal of money is being spent on teams and infrastructure. There is also a growing core of global influencer fans on social media, particularly Instagram so it’s easier to keep up with the wider trends in football style and culture.”
If you're interested in football style as interpreted by female supporters, check out the Girlfans website to view editions of the fanzine.
Girlfans Manchester City edition was recently launched at the Whitworth Gallery and Museum, Manchester. Students from LJMU’s Fashion: Design and Communication BA (Hons) and Fashion Innovation and Realisation MA helped with the project and some of their photography is included in the fanzine.