Chelcee Grimes On The Beautiful Game

The Women's Euros has kicked off football fever. Singer, songwriter and passionate footballer Chelcee Grimes tells us what the game means to her and how much she owes to the female players of 1895

By Glorious

For singer and songwriter Chelcee Grimes, football has always held a special place in her heart. As a teenager she played for Liverpool Ladies before deciding to focus on her music career. However, the lure of the game was too strong and she returned to the pitch, playing for teams including Everton, Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham. More recently, Chelcee was part of the winning World X1 Soccer Aid team and she continues to play regularly for Merseyrail Ladies FC. Here Chelcee tells us about her passion for the game, how music and football collide, and what it was like to recreate an image from 1895 of the first women’s football team.

Chelcee was part of the 2022 winning World X1 Soccer Aid team.

Glorious: For someone that is so passionate about football, being part of Soccer Aid must be an amazing experience. Tell us about this year’s match, and were you happy with your performance?

Chelcee Grimes: This year was amazing because we raised more money than ever before. To be honest, I’ve probably played better – but seeing my tackle on Mark Noble everywhere, I think it’s had something like five million views on YouTube, it makes me laugh. His family came up to me after the game and said that they loved it, so I think I’m off the hook!

Glorious: Do you still play football regularly?

Chelcee Grimes: Absolutely, whether I’m in a TV studio, a recording studio, whatever it is I’m doing, football is still my place where I can just forget everything else and focus on playing. That’s the main reason I still play for Merseyrail Ladies FC, it’s just so good for me, my mental health, and being able to just let go and forget everything.

Glorious: What do you love most, football or song writing?

Chelcee Grimes: Football is what informs my attitude towards music, and there’s a lot of similarities between the music industry and the sport industry You’ve got to be resilient, to never give up, and both have their up and down moments. I couldn’t choose one, but if I could tell you what made me, it’d be football.

Glorious: The worlds of sport and music are often compared, there’s a parallel in emotional power, music brings fans together – what songs are close to your heart that resonate with football matches or other sporting events?

Chelcee Grimes: There are so many. Obviously for me being a Liverpool fan, You’ll Never Walk Alone is the main song that comes into my mind. Football anthems are a big part of the culture, and when I go to games now, I spend half the time watching the game and half the time listening to the new chants. It’s just amazing how the crowds can get so creative, and everyone can be a songwriter in those moments.

"Football is what informs my attitude towards music."

Glorious: How excited are you about the Women’s Euros, what involvement will you have, where will you be watching the matches, and what are your predictions?

Chelcee Grimes: I’m going to be trying to get as many games as I can. I know a lot of the girls, so I’m so excited looking ahead to the tournament. It’s just going to be a good time and hopefully I get to see everyone do well – if they can start well and set the tone in the first few games, hopefully we can have another brilliant summer of sport.

Glorious: The recreation of the 1895 women’s team image must have been fun, how did this come about?

Chelcee Grimes: Recreating an image of the first women’s football team has been amazing. When I saw the original photo, it just made me want to do it justice! I was recreating the team captain of the first British Ladies Football Club, Nettie Honeyball, who is widely considered a pioneer of women’s football. I’m just hoping I do her justice – it’s a lot of pressure! Whether I have to turn my head to the left one degree or move my left fingertip two degrees to the right, I’m going to do it because when I look at the picture that we are recreating, I feel so grateful that these women existed and that they had the attitude to be truly rebellious.

A recreation of the image from 1895 of the first women's football team - Chelcee (back row, second left). Jan Kruger/Getty Images for The National Lottery.

history

Glorious: What are your thoughts on the 1895 women, the clothes they wore, and the early impact they had on women’s football?

Chelcee Grimes: I wouldn’t be here at all if it wasn’t for this photograph and these women. I can’t imagine what it was like playing football back then in the 1890’s. When I started playing at age 9 it was hard enough, as I felt like an outcast, but that’s nothing compared to what these women went through. They were true trailblazers, and I have so much love and gratitude for all the women in this photo.

Glorious: What are the biggest changes that you’ve seen in women’s football over recent years?

Chelcee Grimes: I think for those on the outside who haven’t played women’s football, they might think about the crowds and the ever-increasing popularity, but for me personally it goes down even to the kit. When I was a child, we didn’t even have matching socks half the time, or we’d just be using the boys’ kits. Now there is a kit specifically for females and seeing that every year, it’s getting bigger and better, more of this and I’ll be very happy.

Nettie Honeyball, a pioneer of women's football.

Glorious: If you had a choice, what era would you have liked to play professionally and why?

Chelcee Grimes: Maybe a few years in the future! My sister is 13, and watching this generation now where there is a real chance to go on and be a pro, it’s so exciting. Right now it’s thriving – you really can be a woman and a professional footballer and it’s just keep getting better and better.

Glorious: How has National Lottery funding helped women’s grassroots football?

Chelcee Grimes: Over the past ten years, The National Lottery has helped invest over £50 million into grassroots football, in ways which benefit the women’s game. This investment includes funding specific programmes as part of the Women’s Euros legacy to inspire females to play football. Before the pandemic, the women’s game was flying, but during the various lockdowns everything had to stop and this really hit women’s football on every level of the game. Over the past two years, funding from The National Lottery was keeping local community clubs afloat and that’s why I was so happy to be involved in the campaign of recreated images to support the next generation of players. Sport really has the power to bring people together and grassroots clubs and organisations play such a vital role in giving young people the time and space to realise their full potential.

Glorious: What changes would you like to see in women and girls’ football?

Chelcee Grimes: If we can see continual improvement that is so positive for the women’s game. I am excited for the future and with a younger sister who can enjoy all the milestones of progress going forward, funding and support from the National Lottery makes an incredible difference for players at every level of the game.

Glorious: Any chance that you’ll be writing a song to support the England team for the Women’s Football World Cup in 2023?

Chelcee Grimes: I actually have written a record! We’re just trying to find the right person for the song, and it is one of those things where I’ve tried not to write many football songs because people expect it from me. But for such a big occasion, there is one in the pipeline – but I won’t say too much about it right now!

"Whatever it is I'm doing, football is still my place where I can just forget everything else and focus on playing."

Glorious: If you were hosting a dinner and could invite five women, who would you imvite and why?

Chelcee Grimes: Obviously, I’ve got to go with a footballer, and I’m really close friends with Farah Williams. She is the most capped England player of all time, so she’s got a few stories to tell. As I grew up, someone who inspired me musically was Lady Gaga, so she has to be on the table. I’ve got to put Serena Williams there – not my sport of course but for what she’s done and what she’s achieved. My final picks would be Michelle Obama and Megan Markle, two more strong women who are extremely inspiring and are definitely worthy of icon status.

"When I go to football games now, I spend half the time watching the game and half the time listening to the new chants."

Editorial Design by Root

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