The world’s first female football photographer looks back on her journey

ByDavid M. Conte

Mar 13, 2022

As the first female football photographer, Hy Money’s career didn’t have the easiest start. In the 1970s, football was very much a “man’s game”, she was subjected to sexist comments, abused, refused entry to Wembley and ridiculed at Wimbledon Stadium. But even the lack of women’s toilets in Selhurst Park (the home ground of Crystal Palace) wasn’t going to stop Hy Money from making a name for itself.

Hy Money never had much interest in the beautiful game. She received her first camera, a Kodak Box Brownie, from her mother when she finished boarding school and moved to England. The purpose of the camera was so she could take photos of Buckingham Palace to send back to her mother in Bangalore, India, but Money used it to capture her children playing football.

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For his son Martin’s sixth birthday, he wanted to go to Selhurst Park to see Crystal Palace play, so Money obliged and took a Rolleiflex twin-lens reflex camera with her. It was that day that changed the future of her career and ignited a spark she never knew existed.

“It was as if a new world had opened up to me, she recalls in a interview with Crystal Palace. “It was just people and families, colors and joy. The smell of hot dogs, people selling scarves and souvenirs. It was like I had entered this magical world that I didn’t even know it existed.”

Shortly after, she returned to Selhurst Park, camera in hand, hoping to capture the action from the sidelines. Having already called several times to inquire about a press pass, the receptionist and manager at the time, Bert Head, half-heartedly agreed to stop his request and Money headed for the photographers’ area. .

To her surprise and disappointment, she was greeted with sexist comments from men who said things like, “Hello, hello, hello, look what just happened” and “What’s in your your darling bag? Do you have your knitting with you? Did you bring your hook?” She even recalls a man bursting inside her, knocking her down, and following up with, “Sorry sir, didn’t see you there.”

A few years later, Money went to Wembley for the first time as a photographer. Kenny Sansom, who played for Crystal Palace, was playing for the England team and Money had been tasked with taking pictures for the local newspaper. As she approached the press area and presented him with her pass, a man said, “Over my dead mate,” followed by “Damn, it’s a bird, n is there anywhere you women wouldn’t want to stick your nose in?

Money’s perseverance and determination paid off and she is now considered one of the pioneering women in sports photography. Her fellow male photographers walked by, despite Money begging her eyes to let her in. She spent the rest of the game outside the stadium, waiting in tears for it to end.

She went on to capture some of Crystal Palace’s defining moments and photograph some of the biggest names in showbiz, including Elton John and Sean Connery. Even though she didn’t know it at the time, she was paving the way for women of the future and creating a space where female photographers would be more accepted.

His advice to women now is: “Know in your heart that you have the right. If you feel like you have the right, you’re gifted, and you want to go somewhere and do something, don’t let the fact that you’re a woman stop you. Those days are over.

Money faced some of the worst attitudes and acts of discrimination against women, but his tenacity and passion for football photography won out. It’s stories like this that show just how far we’ve come, and it’s women like this Money that we have to thank for being so stubborn.

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