After making history as England’s first transgender referee, Lucy Clark has done it again as manager of Sutton United Women’s team. She is officially the first transgender woman to be appointed manager of a top-five division team.
Clark coached her first team at 16, and she previously managed a men’s non-league football team. Even after years as a referee, she discovered she still had the itch for management. “The plan was just to do some refereeing to have a look at players before I got back into managing, but obviously the refereeing went well and I had some fabulous times,” Clark told BBC.
“And I think that has helped, 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 on at Sutton.”
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Clark also founded TRUK United FC, an all-trans amateur team, which last year became Europe’s first team of trans-masc players to compete against cis men. “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.
“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.”
With all the negative attention on transgender players in sports, Clark was prepared for the worst — even if she herself was not playing. “I transitioned while I was a referee, and people don’t like referees,” Clark said. “There is nothing anyone can say to me that I haven’t heard or seen already from when I came out. There’s already been a few of the Twitter warriors who have said their piece, I let them crack on. I’ve been known as the trans referee, and that’s gone fine.
“Sometimes the words can get to you, but I’m thick skinned — I hit the block button and get on with it. I’m prepared to deal with it should it happen, so we crack on. I’m not going to stop doing something I love because of who I am.”
All in all, the appointment has been a long time in the making for the 51-year-old. “Back in the 1980s playing computer games, I would edit the teams to be Sutton United,” Clark recalled. “It’s amazing, kind of a dream come true.”
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