Carrie Boustead: The first black woman footballer

Pride and prejudice: Scotland’s complicated black history

  • 8 October 2013

Sports stars

Football was where two key figures in Scotland’s black history excelled in the face of extreme prejudice in the late 1800s.

Carrie Boustead played in goals for a number of teams including Mrs Graham’s XI, a women’s team set up by Helen Matthew, the daughter of a Montrose-born master mariner.

Richard McBrearty, of the Scottish Football Museum, said: “A degree of mystery surrounds Carrie Boustead.

Carrie Boustead
Image captionCarrie Boustead in a painting by artist Stuart Gibbs

“It is believed that Carrie Boustead was originally known as Clara Berry and was raised in Liverpool during the 1870s.

“Carrie first comes to prominence in 1896 when she played in a series of football matches north and south of the border.”

Boustead was in goals for a London team that played at Barrowfield Park in Glasgow in May 1896, and also in a game held in Stirling.

She was listed as being goalkeeper for Mrs Graham’s XI in a match played at Wishaw in Lanarkshire.

Boustead is among women footballers of the 1800s portrayed in paintings by Scots artist Stuart Gibbs.

Mr McBrearty said: “At a time when there was widespread cynicism towards women playing football, Boustead was a successful proponent of the women’s game and she, along with her team mates of the period, should be remembered for their achievements north and south of the border as pioneers.”


Women’s football celebrated in Coventry exhibition

23 July 2012 Last updated at 08:04 ET


An exhibition highlighting the history of women’s football opens in Coventry – the same week that the city hosts women’s Olympic football matches.

Moving the Goalposts, hosted by Coventry University’s Lanchester Gallery, looks at its history in Britain from 1881 to the present day.

The first women’s Olympic football match will be held at the City of Coventry Stadium on Wednesday, a day before the official opening ceremony.

‘A brilliant opportunity’

Curator Colin Yates said: “I started the project about 18 months ago and just by chance most of the artists that I selected were based in the Midlands.


Carrie Boustead (First recorded black woman's footballer 1896) Painting by Stuart Gibbs Copyright 2012. Image reproduction by permission from the artist.

Carrie Boustead First recorded black woman’s footballer 1896
Painting by Stuart Gibbs Image reproduction by permission from the artist.



“We’ve found out brand new things about women’s football, including the first information about the first black woman footballer called Carrie Boustead, who played in the late 1890s.”

“I wanted to display the exhibition in Coventry, my home town, and it also coincides with the Olympic football tournament.

“For me to tie everything in was just a brilliant opportunity.

Exhibits include paintings, drawings and photographs.

Moving the Goalposts is also a joint project between the city council and the university and is supported by the Professional Footballers Association.

Work from the exhibition has been used to illustrate Gabby Logan’s BBC documentary Sexism in Football.

Carrie Boustead - Stuart Gibbs

It is also one of the first exhibitions for the gallery, which opened in January and is part of the students union hub building in Jordan Well.

One of the artists showcasing her work is Jaskirt Dhaliwal, who photographed Coventry City Ladies to celebrate the city’s involvement in the Olympics and its local footballing talent.

Carl Bainbridge from the city council said people visiting the city would not only enjoy the “experience of the football” but “everything else on offer”.

“We want to encourage people to spend more than just the football matches with us,” he said.

The exhibition is free and opens on Tuesday until 12 August.

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