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“I never wanted it to be about me” – Sutton United’s Lucy Clark on becoming the first transgender manager in the Women’s game • London Football Scene



“I never wanted it to be about me” – Sutton United’s Lucy Clark on becoming the first transgender manager in the Women’s game • London Football Scene

5 min

When Lucy Clark was named Sutton United’s new women’s manager at the end of January, little did she know she would face a barrage of abuse upon her appointment.

For Lucy, it had been a lifelong dream to manage her childhood club but realising it as the first transgender manager in the top five tiers of the English women’s game came with a torrent of hatred.

Sutton’s social media post on the announcement went viral, with more than 6 million views bringing a seismic wave of abhorrence and creating a poisonous atmosphere for the club’s newest recruit. 

“That many views was obviously great for the football club, but the hate that came with it was horrific,” Lucy exclusively told London Football Scene.

“The club were receiving abuse as well, but at the end of the day they hired who they thought was the best person for the job – gender and history was not even a factor. 

“Thankfully, I have thick skin and can deal with hatred by blocking and ignoring – if anything I was more concerned about how the football club were going to handle it.”

While the abuse Lucy received may have been unprecedented, it’s not the first time she has triumphed over adversity – previously being recognised as the first transgender referee in the world.

It came after a heart attack back in 2017 forced her to re-evaluate her life, finally providing the confidence she needed to become her true self and transition to a female – although at the time Lucy believed it would ultimately mean the end of any form of career in football.

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“We only have one life, so I suppose my heart attack was the catalyst – I probably would not have been in football anymore without it,” Lucy said.

“That Christmas, I told the FA who I really was and my plans and at first I didn’t think the footballing world was going to accept me.

“There was never a transgender referee or manager before me but except for two small occasions, the footballing world has been great to me and I’m really thankful for it.”

As part of her transition, Lucy also founded Trans Radio UK (TRUK) – a radio station providing a listening platform and support network for the trans community – even providing a helpline for listeners.

After going from strength-to-strength, a football team of the same name was established in 2021 with Lucy taking the reins as player-manager.

“TRUK recently entered its sixth year and in that time we have won bundles and bundles of trophies and awards for our work,” explained Lucy.

READ MORE: “It’s not just a woman’s job to fight sexism” – Sutton United and HerGameToo in equality rallying call

“People also come from all over the place to play for TRUK United and the football team supports our helpline – TRUK listens.”

A UEFA B Licence holder, coaching has always been a big part of the 51-year-old’s life alongside refereeing with Lucy previously managing at Steps 5-6 of the men’s game.

Yet it wasn’t until after refereeing a cup final as a transgender official that she realised how much she wanted to get back into management but only if the right opportunity came along.

“For the Sutton job to come up whilst I was looking to get back into management was a dream come true,” explained Lucy.

“It felt amazing when I got the role but it’s been a difficult job with the manager leaving, players moving onto other teams and the poor run of form.

READ MORE: Matt Gray leaves Sutton United with his legendary status intact despite Stockport County debacle

“In my first few games we had wingers and an attacking midfielder in defence but we have done well against some difficult opposition.

“It was always going to be a challenge, but I like a challenge and still very much believe the club have made the right decision in appointing me.”

So far Lucy has steadied the ship with a first win of her tenure over bottom-of-the-table Crawley AFC seeing Sutton United Women move away from the drop zone.

And she remains defiant in the face of the abuse she has received and determined to do everything she can to ensure Sutton United Women are challenging at the right end of the table next season.

“I never wanted it (the Sutton United appointment) to be about me and overall I know it’s not personal – it’s hatred of the trans community as a whole.

READ MORE: Steve Morison – The hardened former Millwall player is the perfect fit for Sutton United

“Everybody has embraced me and my staff and I just want to make my mark on Sutton United and get this team fighting for the league title and promotions.

“It would be great if one day I could talk with the Sutton Board about taking the Women’s Team full-time, because we have played our way into the Championship.”

It may seem like an unrealistic ambition but for someone who has already experienced an incredible journey and achieved so much, it would be unwise to bet against Lucy making it possible.


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