Trans woman makes history as Sutton United football manager

A transgender former referee has made history after becoming the manager of Sutton United’s women’s team.

A life-long fan of the South London club, Clark was appointed last week – making her the first trans woman to be appointed as a manager in the top five divisions of English women’s football.

The fifth-tier side are currently fighting against relegation from the London & South East Regional Women’s Premier Division.

Clark previously made history by becoming the first transgender referee in English football, having coached her first football team at the age of 16 and managed a men’s non-league club in Essex.

“Back in the 1980s, playing computer games, I would edit the teams to be Sutton United,” Clark told the BBC.

“It’s amazing, kind of a dream come true. 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 at Sutton.”

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She also founded TRUK United FC, a trans-inclusive non-league team, which eventually led to her new role.  

“I set up TRUK, which got me back in the dressing room as a manager, and made me think it was time. I got the bug of being a manager again,” she said.

“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.”

In an interview with The Mirror last year to mark LGBT+ History Month, Clark said she’d previously had concerns that she wouldn’t be accepted in football after she came out as trans.

“I thought the football world wouldn’t accept me, to be honest with you,” she said, adding that she believed that the 2017-2018 season would be her last as a referee.

In fact, it was Sutton United and her love of football that helped her when she struggled with mental health issues.

“There has to be a place for trans people in sport, it has to be done fairly but there has to be a place for us. Especially in football”, Clark said.

“Football saved my life. If I didn’t have football, I wouldn’t be here today. Football allowed me to forget what was going on in my head when I was in my teenage years and when I was down.”

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