It's the untold story of the lost Lionesses.

Until now, the heroics of Totton footballer Louise Gardner (née Cross) and her England teammates at the 1971 Women's World Cup have been forgotten and the Football Association still won't reward any of the side with a cap for their country.

But a documentary film released today, on International Women's Day, tells the story of the six unofficial international teams who travelled to Mexico to represent their countries - and defy the sport's rulers, who didn't want women involved in the beautiful game. 

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Louise, a 70-year-old mother of two and grandmother of two who still plays walking football at AFC Totton, was just 17 and working as a shorthand typist in Eling when she took her first flight, via New York, to Mexico City to play for the British Independents in the controversial tournament.

A talented left winger, she told the Daily Echo: "I was young, I didn't care about politics. All I was interested in was playing football."

"From the moment, we arrived they treated us like film stars. It was an incredible experience playing at the Azteca stadium with a crowd of 90,000. I was used to playing on The Common in front of about ten people. I much preferred the big crowd as you couldn't hear the individual criticisms. We did put up with a lot of abuse." 

Daily Echo: The team leave Mexico in 1971

Copa 71, which has tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams among its executive producers and Hollywood A-listers Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith involved, shines a light on the stories behind the tournament. 

Women’s football was hugely popular at the start of the 20th century, filling stadiums until the game's ruling body banned women from playing in affiliated grounds in 1921, a ban which was to last 51 years. 

In the 70s, Southampton Women played on The Common in the long grass with pot holes and dog poo. There were no shower facilities in the leaking changing rooms. 

Daily Echo: Louise was a handy left winger

"It's so much better now, but there's still a lot of misogyny in the game," Louise added.

"Women can play football. Don't every let anyone tell you you can't play football just because you're a girl.

"I'm glad people are interested in our story."

Daily Echo: Some of Louise's memorabilia