Monday, 26 July 2010

Dick, Kerr's Ladies FC (England)

The name of this blog is perhaps a little one-sided, leaving out a little over half of the world's population. This is especially short-sighted of me when you remember that probably the most successful team to have ever played in black and white stripes - and perhaps even one of the greatest teams of all time - was entirely populated by ladies - Dick, Kerr's Ladies.

The team were founded as a works team at the Dick, Kerr & Company munitions factory in Preston during the First World War. The company's two Scotts founders started to employ women workers in 1914 to help with the war effort, and although women had initially been prevented from playing sport, they figured it may help with morale in the factory if they got a football team together. After beating the factory's men's side in their first game, word got around that they could play a bit, and under the managership of office worker Alfred Frankland they began to play a series of friendlies and exhibition matches around the country to raise funds for injured servicemen.

They played in the famous black and white, unless they were playing under the banner of the England Ladies team, in which case they played in the traditional plain white. They were however required to wear wooly hats in the team's colours, as it was not thought becoming for ladies to be playing with their hair flowing free back in those days.

They started to draw big crowds, and in time Dick, Kerr & Company decided to pay the players ten shillings a game to cover their expenses. On Christmas Day 1917, 10,000 people came to watch them play at Preston North End's Deepdale ground in an era starved of football by the onslaught of war. In 1920 they played the first ladies international against a French side from Paris as part of a four game tour, which they won 2-0, going on to win the series by three games to one. Then followed a return tour of France in which they won one and drew three. This tour garnered so much attention that their Boxing Day game at at Goodison Park against St Helens Ladies attracted 53,000 spectators. 

Such was their popularity that the FA banned women's football at all FA grounds on 5th December 1921 - a band that stood, quite unbelievably, until July 1971s. This led them to go out on tour and play all of their games abroad - even getting throw of Canada who came out in solidarily with the FA. In the late 1920s they changed their name to Preston Ladies, and continued on until they were eventually disbanded in 1965.

Their record over their 50-odd years was incomparable. In total they played 828 games, of which they won 758, drew 46 and lost a measly 24 - not bad when you consider that many of their exhibition games were against senior men's teams. So raise your (wooly) hats for Dick, Kerr's Ladies FC - quite possibly the most successful football team of all time!

All photos © lays with the owners
Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

No comments:

Post a Comment