Founded in 1917, women's football quickly became a popular spectator sport - so much so, that the Football Association banned it, fearing it would upstage the men's game. This book is the story of the Dick, Kerr's Ladies team, as well as the political and social issues that led to the demise of the women's game.
In 1917 a new sport was born in the munitions factories of Britain. Within two years women's football had become one of the most popular spectator sports, and the most famous team was the Dick, Kerr's Ladies, of Preston, Lancashire. The factory girls became media stars, touring France, and then America, where they found themselves teamed against men. Abruptly, in 1921, the Football Association banned the sport, fearing that it detracted from the popularity of the men's game: the prohibition lasted for half a century. Dick, Kerr's Ladies survived, but its glory years were 1917-22, when its star players were Alice Woods, a calm but competitive world-class sprinter and miner's daughter from the politically active mining community of St Helens, and Lily Parr, who was taller than most men by the time she was 14. Barbara Jacobs, who shares their birthplace, St Helens, tells the story of the two women and the team, and what lay behind the runaway success of their sport - the closure of men's League games in the Great War, the charitable nature of the game, the need to provide sporting activities for munitionettes. She reveals too, the political and social issues that led to its shameful and carefully orchestrated demise. Intertwining the history of the tough Lancashire women with a vibrant commentary on their daily lives, Jacobs introduces us to the Lancastrian love of a 'reet good do', Blackpool and brass bands, pickled eggs and tripe and onions, and much more in a charming yet clear-eyed book that captures the true spirit of dissidence, hope, and laughter.