Bracknell’s first Lioness – Terri Hinton’s journey from the Sport Centre to lining up with Hope Powell for England

Bracknell's first England Lioness - Terri Irvine.
Bracknell's first England Lioness - Terri Irvine.

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Back in the early 1970’s Berkshire had a flourishing Ladies football scene with teams in Reading, Newbury and two clubs in Bracknell, the Bracknell Bullitts and Bracknell Ladies. It was around this time Terri Hinton (nee Irvine) started her footballing journey which would culminate in travelling around the world during her six-year stint as an England Ladies international.

As a teenager, Terri wanted to play football but it wasn’t until she was 21 that she was invited along to the Bracknell Sports Centre to train with the Bracknell Bullitts. She was soon turning out for the Harmans Water-based outfit, regularly playing the likes Chelsea, Fulham and Queens Park Rangers along with their local Berkshire rivals, while also having a first taste of international football playing against a German ladies side at Larges Lane in Bracknell.

Berkshire Internationals: Read more about the men and women representing their countries

A newspaper cutting reporting the Bracknell Bullitts win over a German ladies side Eintracht at Larges Lane.
A newspaper cutting reporting the Bracknell Bullitts win over a German ladies side Eintracht at Larges Lane.

Terri started out as a centre forward or out on the wing and was soon on the England radar having trials in both positions, but after being given encouragement to give goalkeeping a go, she decided a place in between the sticks was where she wanted to be. After a successful spell in goal for the Bullitts, Terri then moved on to play for Aylesbury Ladies, who were later to become the first women’s team to be associated with a professional football club, becoming Arsenal Women.  

England debut

In 1978 aged 26, Terri made her first appearance for England in a Women’s International against Sweden at Filbert Street in Leicester and continued to be England’s custodian for the next six years. One of the highlights of her long England career was flying out to Japan to take part in a four-team tournament, playing against Denmark, Sweden, Italy and the hosts in front of crowds of over 50,000 with the matches also being shown live on Japanese national TV. 

The England squad against Sweden.
The England squad against Sweden.

Her last England appearances were in the inaugural Women’s European Championships in 1984. England made it through to the final, beating Denmark 3-1 over two legs, before taking on old adversaries Sweden in the final over two legs. Sweden won the first leg 1-0 in Gothenburg and with England winning the reverse leg by the same score at Luton Town’s Kenilworth Road; the game went to a penalty shoot-out with Sweden taking the honours 4-3. 

The England squad in the Final included future England boss Hope Powell who did so much to get the Lionesses where they are today.

Following the Final, Terri returned to local football playing for Bracknell Ladies before hanging up her boots in 1987. 

Lionesses boom

Since the recent boom and interest in the Lionesses and women’s football in general, the English Women’s Football Association has been in contact with former players and invited Terri and her family to the England Women’s 50th Anniversary International Friendly with the USA at Wembley in October 2022 where the ex-players all received a commemorative pennant showing the names of all who have played for England over the last 50 years. 

Terri Hinton meets England's Euros winning boss Sarina Wiegman.
Terri Hinton meets England’s Euros winning boss Sarina Wiegman.
Terri with England and former Reading goalkeeper Mary Earps.
Terri with England and former Reading goalkeeper Mary Earps.

Terri and her family have been invited to meet the current Lionesses and watch them train, and she is also in contact with the WFA about receiving her official England cap, long overdue recognition as one of the pioneers of the England Women’s football team. Terri is currently awaiting the call, the ceremony is due to take place before the Lionesses fly out to Australia for the World Cup and will be such a special occasion for all her family. 

The story doesn’t end there. Terri’s two granddaughters, who joined her at Wembley meeting the Lionesses manager and players, are both currently playing for Wessex Lionesses in Dorset with one already being invited to train and play with the county team. You never know, this may not be the last time we hear from this footballing family!

Read more: From Garth Hill to England’s number one: When Mary Earps coached FC Bracknell’s youngsters

Even More: Bracknell’s Aimee Claypole just made her FA WSL debut

Got a story like Terri’s you’d love to share with us? Head over to our contact page here and get in touch!

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