You rarely get romantic stories in the beautiful game, but one such love story has ended in marriage for Golcar United Ladies’ FC boss Chloe Peel.
Chloe, 30, recently tied the knot with partner Robyn, 25, three years after they met. Their story starts and ends with football and the two women are looking to be role models in the Golcar community.
Chloe bravely went public about her sexuality three years ago and was humbled by the response of the village.
She said: “I found it very difficult coming out as gay. My dad has a massive family, he’s one of seven and, while we all get on great, it was difficult coming out.
“Growing up I’ve always liked football, tracksuit bottoms and drinking pints. Because of that people would taunt me, saying: ‘Chloe is gay.’
“They didn’t know that – because I didn’t know that! It was awful to hear what they were saying. I’ve just always liked football, pints and pizza, and what’s wrong with that?
“That stigma exists and while people think it’s just banter it can also hurt. I did find it hard. However, what I will say, is that not one single person has been unsupportive.
“We get on with everyone at the club and lots of people in the village. Golcar is a very supportive, tight knit community and we look after each other.”
Chloe and Robyn first met on the football pitch while playing for Huddersfield Amateurs at Elland.
“I had just come back from a 10-day stay in Las Vegas with my family,” recalled Chloe. “I got pulled into playing a game and I told the manager he’d get about 10 minutes out of me because I was knackered, hungover and jetlagged.
“Robyn got injured 10 minutes into the game, so I ended up playing 80 minutes. From there we went for a pint and the rest is history. We have been together three years and now we are married.
“Robyn is the first girlfriend I’ve ever had. Before Robyn I just had boyfriends but it’s one of those things. You can’t help who you fall for.”
The couple got married at Dewsbury Town Hall on May 29 and hope to have children in the future.
“We want children so we know one of us will have to stop playing for a time.”
Currently there are no openly gay male footballers in England at any professional level still playing.
It is a topic that has been hard to face for the men’s sport and more openness is certainly needed. However, Chloe eloquently compares the contrasting way sexuality is viewed in both men’s and women’s football.
“I watched a documentary the other day about how hard it is for men to come out as gay in men’s football,” said Chloe. “It’s a really taboo subject, and there is no way there are no gay footballers at a professional level in this country, there definitely will be. It’s so sad that men don’t feel like they can speak about these things.
“It isn’t necessarily said now but there was a stigma that if women play football they must be gay, which I perceived to be true more often than not. Whereas now I think it’s more of a 50/50 split, so it’s certainly changing.
“More women are now playing football because they want to play football, not just because they want to play with their girlfriends or partners. Also the quality of football is much better, and the funding at grassroots has improved, which means there are more females playing the game.”
Chloe has always been interested in football since a young age. She has already helped to have a long-lasting impact on Golcar United in helping to set up the junior section at the club. From there she has gone on to create a full women’s set up.
She said: “My journey with Golcar United started when I helped set up the junior section with Tom and Ben Senior. I helped run the under 9s team for a few seasons. I then left due to work commitments.
“Tom then put a message on the junior Facebook page to see if any women were interested in playing football. It was just going to be a bit of fun on a Tuesday evening.
“About an hour and half later there were more than 50 comments on his post and about 30 women wanting to go and play. I got tagged in the post a few times by various people around the village. I got asked if I would set it up and run it.
“We began in the summer of 2019 and entered a team into the West Riding County FA’s women’s league division three. That’s about step seven in the pyramid. We have now a fully set up women’s team with 30 players signed on and we are looking forward to our second season.
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“I am technically signed on as player coach and I’ll give myself 10 minutes when needed but I much prefer managing to playing now.
“We have girls in the team who had never kicked a football before and then we have others who have played for nearly 20 years. They have played for the likes of Everton and Sunderland.
“Last season we sat second in the league, absolutely flying and looking at getting promoted. We didn’t lose a game, and then lockdown came and we had to stop training and playing. We then started up again in mid-April but by then the league had been declared null and void which was so disappointing.
“We want to get promoted next season and we want to have some form of competitiveness in the side.
“However, my philosophy is to build something more meaningful than just a team winning and losing.
“One of the reasons I did stop enjoying playing is because I was going to teams and there was a lot of bitching and also clubs not respecting their players.
“I kept going to teams and dropping out because of personal confidence issues not because of my football ability but more the social side. You tend to find that there are a lot of cliques inside clubs.
“I said that when I started this Golcar side I would be as inclusive as possible whilst maintaining a competitive squad. That is a very hard thing to balance because it’s difficult to not just pick the most competitive squad.”
Chloe has very clear aims on what she wants to achieve and build at the club.
She said: “What we want going forward is a development group which is designed for those women who want to just come and have a kick around and just train and get fit.
“We’ll then have a competitive squad as the first team. It then gives women a choice of what they want to get out of it when they sign up.
“Mine and Robyn’s long-term vision for the club is that we don’t just have an open age women’s team. We go all the way down to the juniors. It’s a long-term aim and it might take 10 years to put in place but it’d be amazing for our club.
“Robyn has been involved just as much as me, she has been a great support and we talk to each other about ideas that we have going forward. Robyn is hugely passionate about building the Golcar Girls academy going forward.”
Chloe, who works as an IT manager for the NHS and is a loyal Huddersfield Town fan, says she’ll never fall out of love with the sport.
She said: “I just love football and it’s been in my family forever. My uncle played for Golcar and I am a season ticket holder at Huddersfield Town, I have been for 10 years.
“Saturdays are a special day because around 10 of us meet up and go for a bit of food and a drink in the town centre and then go to the ground and cheer the team on. I am football and sport obsessed.”
In the immediate future Chloe is looking forward to settling into married life with Robyn and a honeymoon would be nice at some stage.
“We are going to Dublin in August and we are having a second wedding event for the family in the same month too,” said Chloe. “We might look at getting away in the winter in and around games for a break.
“We’re just looking forward to spending some time together.”