For the first 211 years of its existence, MCC operated as a male only Club.
The idea of admitting women as Members was discussed by the Committee in 1967, but it would be another three decades before sufficient support among existing Members could be generated. The catalyst came in 1990, when a membership application from one R. Flint landed on the President’s desk. Flint had some powerful backers; her application bore the signatures of broadcaster Brian Johnston, lyricist Tim Rice, ex-Warwickshire and England batsman Dennis Amiss and the prominent Wolverhampton businessman Sir Jack Hayward. What brought the application form to the President’s in-tray was the identity of the applicant, for R. Flint of Wolverhampton was none other than Rachael Heyhoe Flint, the most prominent woman cricketer of her generation.
The Flint application came at the same time as an appeal from Middlesex. A recent change of policy at Old Trafford had left Lord’s as the only ground on the county circuit where the home county’s female members could not enter their own pavilion. When MCC took legal advice the Club was surprised to discover that there was nothing in its rules to prevent a woman becoming a Member, as the rules always referred to any ‘person’ who applied for Membership, and whether they were a man or a woman was never mentioned. The Committee nevertheless felt that a more positive move would be required, saying specifically that women were welcome to apply, whilst they also felt the need for the existing Members to support the move. For the time being, that support simply wasn’t there.
By 1998 however, the mood had changed. The Women’s Cricket Association had merged into the new England and Wales Cricket Board, headquartered at Lord’s. Still more crucially, the Club’s application to the Sports Council’s Lottery Sports Fund to help pay for a new Grand Stand had been rejected on the specific grounds that the Club did not admit women as Members. An energetic new President, Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie, determined that the time had come. He put the question to the Membership once more. At the first attempt, in February, the motion was carried, but by too slender a majority to change the Club’s rules. A second vote was held in September, and this time the two-thirds threshold was passed. The rules were changed to make it absolutely clear that either men or women could apply to become Members of MCC, and a few months later a group of 10 women were granted Honorary Life Membership.