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Catching up with Flo Lloyd-Hughes, author of The Rise of the Lionesses

Monday, 22 May 2023

We caught up with women's football broadcaster, podcaster and author Flo Lloyd-Hughes to chat about her exciting new book, and of course, all things Lionesses

On Her Side


“It’s a really, really cool feeling” said Flo Lloyd Hughes, renowned women’s football writer, podcaster and now author, as she spoke to On Her Side about the release of her new book, The Rise of the Lionesses. 

The book in question is Flo’s first foray into being a published author, looking at the past, present and future of Women’s Football in England. 

“I’d seen a lot of digital versions of what it would look like, when I got my first copy a couple of weeks ago, it’s one of the best feelings. We’ve tried to time the release with the upcoming World Cup and having actually got my hands on the physical copy, it feels really cool!”

The front cover is one of bright and bold colours, with superb illustrations of Chloe Kelly and Leah Williamson adorning the front cover. Flo herself admitted it was a bit of a challenge writing this book with a target audience of 8-12 year olds along with keeping it open for elder readers.

 “I think it’ll push into older age groups too, especially towards ‘newer’ fans and I even know some adults who aren’t even parents are really keen to read it too. I will say, it’s quite hard to write for kids because you have to bear in mind the language and there were a few moments I’ve had to adapt between things too. I don’t think I’ve made it too childish and for that reason, I thin older readers will enjoy it too”.

The book not only focuses on modern day legends such as Leah Williamson, Beth Mead and Chloe Kelly, but also does a great job at shining the light on heroes of the past such as Lilly Parr and Hope Powell, potentially names that the newer Women’s football fan may not have yet come across. 

“I wanted to paint as broad a picture as possible and highlight some of the big names, obviously there aren’t enough words to write about every single person. But I wanted to highlight some big names, like Lilly Parr and Hope Powell, who undoubtedly is one of the most influential women ever in English Women’s Football, along with people like Fara Williams, who really epitomises the development of women’s football.”

The books release was co-incited with the build up to the upcoming Women’s World Cup 2023 which will take place in Australia and New Zealand. Within Flo’s new book there are snippets of information on players and teams, both England and non-England related, which were really important for Flo to get across.

Flo did also touch upon the horrid luck several Lionesses have had with injuries such as Fran Kirby, Leah Williamson and Beth Mead. “It’s really unfortunate for those players and from an England perspective, with the book being released on the back of the Women’s Euros and being released in England, with the success of last summer being such a core focus.”

As mentioned earlier, the book touches on individuals and their impact on women’s football in England. One dedication is awarded to the Lionesses all-time top scorer Ellen White who retired from football after last summer's triumph. White, who is now an MBE for her services to football, scored 52 goals in 112 outings for the national side. She also won England Women’s Player of the Year three times alongside a host of domestic achievements including two WSL titles with Arsenal, three League Cups with Manchester City and Arsenal combined, and an FA Cup during her time with the Cityzens. 

Speaking on White, Flo added: “It’s a funny one, I probably also have been guilty of forgetting the impact of one player. I think looking at what she (Ellen White) did in her career, getting the record goal scorer tally off Kelly Smith and even heading into the Euro’s last year, there were always questions about whether she should be starting. She played SUCH an important role in England’s Euro win, if it wasn’t for her, England maybe wouldn’t have won the tournament.

"There are also a lot of new fans and I think it’s important to showcase the talent and legacy someone like Ellen White had, to those who maybe had only discovered her during her latter years with England.”

We couldn’t speak to Flo and not ask about that wonderful July afternoon last year, when Chloe Kelly poked the ball home to seal an England major trophy in the Euros which is what a central theme to the book.

“Even though I am a journalist, It’s very hard to kind of dis-attach yourself from that ‘England fan’ feeling, so when that final whistle went, my intitial reaction was like 'Oh my god, we’ve just won a major trophy against Germany, at Wembley and you couldn’t have written a better ending to it’. It was like a footballing dream on the players part and the fact I have got this book, as a result of publishers wanting to write more about women’s football after the Euro’s which to me, shows the actual shift.”

Finally, we asked Flo about the climax of the WSL season which has just two games to go at the time of writing. Chelsea remain the hot favourites to retain the WSL title, having already beaten Manchester United in the FA Cup final and sit top of the WSL table, two points ahead of the Red Devils. 

“The Arsenal game will be really interesting (Chelsea’s next match), but they could still win it on the last day of the season. I really do expect Chelsea to go ahead and win the title especially with Reading on the final day who could well be relegated already which could easily be a one sided affair. I feel with Manchester United also having their derby match against City the same weekend as Chelsea v Arsenal, we could well see Chelsea have the upper hand by the end of play”.

You can purchase Flo’s new book here, The Rise of the Lionesses: Incredible Moments from Women’s Football.

*Edited by Charlotte Stacey

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