Women's Football roars into the Twenties - Women Footballers Play On
In this introduction to the concluding article in our “Women’s Football roars into the Twenties” series Peter Bloor now tells us how the Dick, Kerr Ladies and others played on as the F.A. ban took effect, and about their role in recovery and remembrance after the end of The Great War – more of that in Peter's final piece in this series “Alice Kell and The Dick, Kerr Ladies Remember”, which will be published on Friday 10 November 2023.
Banned - but the women footballers play on
When the women footballers of the Olympique de Paris team toured England in March 1922 the F.A.’s “request” that clubs not host women’s matches had been in force for three months. Olympique’s 1920 counterparts had played their fixtures against the Dick, Kerr Ladies at Deepdale, Edgeley Park, Hyde Road Manchester and Stamford Bridge but, in effect now banned from such venues, Olympique would instead play the Ladies at their home ground, Ashton Park in Preston, the Stanley Athletic Grounds in Liverpool, Hyde Road Park Manchester and, for their first match, at Cardiff Arms Park. They were also due to play the Hey’s Brewery Ladies of Bradford but the Yorkshire Rugby Union was not so accommodating as their Welsh counterparts had been when making available the Arms Park, refusing a request for the loan of the Bradford club’s ground after Mr. J.A. Miller of Leeds had told their meeting that “when women played football they failed and made a ridiculous exhibition of themselves”, and “sometimes an unseemly exhibition” according to the Rev. Huggard of Barnsley when seconding the motion.
Playing on League grounds or not the Dick, Kerr Ladies continued to win, 3-0 in Cardiff, 5-1 in Manchester and 4-0 in Preston and Liverpool, where Florrie Redford proved herself to be “as dangerous a marksman as ever and scored three of her side’s four goals.” Olympique fared no better across the Pennines, losing 2-0 to Hey’s Brewery Ladies at the Greenfield Grounds in Bradford, a match that was played partly for the benefit of the Bradford Hospitals Convalescent Fund, who were presumably unconcerned by the F.A.’s allegation of irregularities in the amounts finally handed over to the charities for which women’s matches had been played. The Preston St. John Ambulance and the Liverpool Infants’ Welfare Centre were, presumably, similarly unconcerned and received half of the proceeds from the Ashton Park and Stanley Grounds matches, the other half (from all five matches played) benefiting the Rheims Cathedral Restoration Fund as reconstruction and recovery from The Great War continued.
The Olympique team also Remembered, visiting the tomb of the Unknown Warrior and laying a wreath at The Cenotaph “as a token of respect for the brave British allies that laid down their noble lives on the field of honour”, as the Dick, Kerr Ladies had laid wreaths on their tour of France in 1920 to remember the Allied dead of the war that had brought them out of a Preston munitions factory to national fame and popularity.
Part Seven: Alice Kell and the Dick, Kerr Ladies remember - will be available to read on Friday 10 November
The quotes and other information in this article are taken from the Lancashire Daily Post, the Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, the Westminster Gazette and other local newspapers of March 1922.
Photographs: Ruins of Rheims Cathedral Imperial War Museum IWM © Q37302, Violette Gouraud-Morris and women footballer-athletes Agence Rol/Source gallica.bnf.fr/Bibliothèque nationale de France