SKIPTON'S former Lioness Jean Elliott will take centre stage once again when she introduces a special one day screening at the town's Plaza Cinema on Friday (March 15) evening of a film which pays tribute to pioneering women footballers.

Copa 71 is a documentary film which tells the story of the footballers, including Jean, who took part in the 1971 Women's World Cup in Mexico City. Using archive footage largely unseen for 50 years, it is an inspiring story shedding light on a tournament that witnessed record crowds but until now has been largely written out of sporting history.

Jean, now 71, asked for the film to be shown in Skipton; it premiered at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival and has screened at the British Film Institute (BFI) in London, and more locally was played to a sold-out cinema in Hebden Bridge.

Jean, who said she might wear her England shirt on Friday night, said: "Hopefully, it will go well, lots of my family are coming, and some of the girls from the football team, I hope they enjoy it as much as I enjoyed playing football."

Women’s football teams from England, Argentina, Mexico, France, Denmark and Italy gathered at Mexico City’s sun-drenched Azteca Stadium back in 1971. The scale of the tournament was monumental: lavish sponsorship, extensive television coverage, merchandise on every street corner and crowds of more than 100,000 hollering fans turning the historic stadium into ‘a cauldron of noise and heat’ match after match.

A fawning media treated the players like rock stars. The atmosphere was reminiscent of the greatest moments in international footballing history. Dismissed by both FIFA and domestic football associations around the world, the event has been entirely written out of history. Until now.

Jean went to the former Aireville School and joined the RAF aged 18. Her footballing talents were evident when playing out on the road alongside the lads in front of her Hillside Crescent home on the Shortbank estate, or in the neighbouring fields.

Having played for the RAF in top class competition, her eventual call up for the England team to contest the Mexico show-piece, was a natural progression. When she got married in 1972, the Craven Herald on its front page carried the headline 'bride in boots'.

Charles Morris, proprietor of the Plaza said: “It will be a privilege to have Jean join us at this screening. I am sure the documentary will be of interest not just to football fans but to anyone who appreciates that one can overcome the status quo.”

The screening of Copa 71 at The Plaza will take place at 8pm on Friday (March 15).