Earlier in the week, England and Manchester City legend Jill Scott surprised Manchester licensee Sarah Jones, from the Grafton Arms, who is leading from the front when it comes to supporting the women's game in her pub.
Jones has turned the Grafton Arms into a shrine to all things Manchester, with a mural adorning the walls of the pub, showcasing local legends such as Marcus Rashford, the Gallagher brothers of Oasis and Steve Coogan. She has now added three of England and Manchester City's finest female footballers Ellen White, Steph Houghton and Jill Scott, to the walls of the pub.
Jones said she was ‘completely overwhelmed’ by having the chance to meet her football hero Jill Scott, who visited her pub to see the mural as part of Sky Sports Everyone Loves A Local campaign.
Icons of the city
She said: “The mural celebrates Manchester icons. People who are either from the city or who have come to the city to do something special. Jill is one of my heroes and a legend of the game, who thoroughly deserves to be added to the wall.”
Speaking about having Jill visit the Grafton Arms, Jones said: “It's been an amazing day, I'm overwhelmed actually. I've watched Jill for years, so for me and my customers to meet her was amazing.”
On seeing the mural, Scott, who has played more than 250 times for Manchester City and England, said: “I love it. Moments like these are a bit surreal. You walk into pubs in Manchester and see pictures of Kevin De Bruyne or Sergio Aguero, so to think that women's football is up there in a pub like this, it's a great moment.”
Ahead of the Women's Football Weekend, which sees Everton host Manchester United and Manchester City take on Chelsea on Sunday 14 November – with both fixtures on Sky Sports Premier League at 12.30pm and 3pm respectively – Scott is encouraging other licensees to get the matches on in their pubs.
“This weekend is a great opportunity for licensee to get women's football on in their pubs,” said Scott. “There are two fantastic games being shown by Sky Sports this weekend and just by putting the games on, pubs are opening up the game to more people and a diverse range of customers. You can see it here at the Grafton Arms. Just as people will throw darts if there's a dartboard or play pool if there's a pool table, put women's football on the TV and people will watch women's football.”
Grafton licensee Jones echoes Scott's thoughts and hopes more pubs follow her lead. She added: “There's a common misconception that it's only women who want to watch the women's game and that's not the case here. We find it the more and more we show the games, it does have an audience. Not just those already interested in women's football but if it's on here, you see people sneakily looking up at the TV when they hear a cheer and by the end of it, they're well into it and that's how fans are created and interest is formed.”
Sarah, who also plays as a striker for local amateur club Manchester Laces, has made the Grafton a home for the Laces who now use the pub as their clubhouse and community space. Laces club captain Emma Morris says how the pub has become the club's home.
“It's been amazing, we have that space to come where everyone feels welcome,” said Morris. “Anytime there's a women's game on they put it on for us. I would encourage any women's football club to make contact with their local pub and see what they can do because this place has become our home – it's brilliant.”