The Canterbury Old Bags aren’t your run-of the mill football team.
For starters, their eldest player, Jo Rohan, is 59 – although “only just”, she tells me.
And most of them have the same story – they weren’t allowed to play football growing up.
The team made it to the semi-finals of the People’s FA cup last year – although goalkeeper CJ says that this year they need to go one step further.
“This year, you’ve always got to go one better, so we’re going to get to the finals,” said CJ, 48.
Playing to win
When CJ is not standing between the posts, she is the head of music at Canterbury primary school. She says that when she was younger, her school banned her from playing football.
“I started playing at a young age when in grew up, but couldn’t play properly – my school wouldn’t allow it,”
“It was a Steiner school – they just didn’t allow it. I played a bit in university, but as I got older, life just got in the way and I stopped.
“We had no idea we got in to the semis, I was in work sulking about it. Got off my lunch break and got an email saying I’d got through.”
CJ says she plays to win, and was disappointed when they lost in the semis.
“We did some extra training but that’s probably where we went wrong, because we got knocked out.
“To any women out there thinking about playing football, don’t think – just do it.”
“Girls didn’t play football in the 70s”
Jo Treharne is the captain of the Canterbury Old Bags, and says that she was also told to stop playing football when she was younger.
“I grew up in the 70s, and girls didn’t play football in the 70s,” Treharne, 49, tells me.
“I used to play at break time, lunch time, until I got told I had to stop. I couldn’t even play on my break.
“So you just stop, and at that age, you just don’t question it, as there weren’t that many opportunities to play.”
Finding out they made the semi-finals
Treharne helped lead the Canterbury Old Bags to the semi-finals last year, but says she didn’t even know about it until the playoffs were long finished.
“We actually thought we’d gone out of the people’s FA cup. We got home, congratulated each other on our success, and a couple of weeks later, we got an email saying we were through to the semi-finals.
“We went to Wimbledon, and were resoundingly thrashed, but it wasn’t disappointing for me.
“We don’t take it too seriously. It’s fun. It’s a fitness thing as well, but something different. It’s not a Zumba class, it’s not an aerobics class, it’s a bit different. It’s just a bit of fun. Come rain or shine, we play football.
“To anyone else thinking about playing, just crack on. Its great fitness, it’s great for your social life, and its proper fun.”
“I’m 59 – only just”
Jo Rohan, the eldest of the bunch, says she really enjoys playing with the team.
“Its great playing with this group of women, it’s really nice to be part of the team.
“I’m actually a tennis player, but that’s quite a singular game, so it’s nice to be part of a team.
“I’d always wanted to play football – obviously, back in the day, football wasn’t allowed for girls. I’ve always been a big sports fan.
“My favourite Christmas present ever was a Tottenham top my mum got me when I was 9. My mum had just given in at this point.
“I think we’re going to do really well this year in the FA cup.”
Rohan also said that football is no longer just for the men.
“It’s for everybody. You have to be competitive, you have to be aggressive, you have to want to win, but football is for everyone,” she continued.
“Bring on the women.”
“It’s brilliant playing with this lot”
At 37 years old, Jo Blackman was the youngest of the team I interviewed, and said that her husband was one of the reasons she decided to join the team.
“I watched my husband for 14 years playing Sunday-league football, and when Jo [Treharne] put the message up on Facebook, I thought, I want to have a go.
“The people’s FA cup was a really good day, it was really fun. I really don’t mind where we get this year.
“It’s brilliant playing with this lot. I love it.”