Here are some interesting facts for you
They were the first women's team to play in an organised match wearing shorts.
Molly Walker was the first player to be transferred from another team to play for the Dick, Kerr Ladies in 1918. Having impressed the manager in their two games with Lancaster Ladies, she made the move to Preston for the start of the new season. She scored the only goal on her debut for the team in a 1-0 victory over Barrow Ladies.
They were the first ladies team to play an international match. In the spring of 1920, they entertained a team from Paris playing a series of matches in the North West of England and at Stamford Bridge, London. The opening match of the tour was played at Deepdale, the home of Preston North End and was watched by a crowd of 25,000 spectators. During the four games played they raised over £3000 for the National Association of Discharged and Disabled Soldiers.
They became the first British women's club to embark on overseas football tour when they made a reciprocal tour to France in the autumn of 1920. They travelled over 2000 miles and played matches in Paris, Roubaix, Le Havre and Rouen in front of over 62,000 spectators. They returned home unbeaten and received a rapturous welcome. The streets were lined with cheering crowds all along their victory route.
In 1920 the Dick, Kerr Ladies were the first women's team to play a match at night and use a white football. They approached the War Office for the loan of two anti aircraft search lights to illuminate the pitch and permission was granted for their use from Winston Churchill. The game was played at Deepdale against a representative team made up of the best players from the rest of England. But even they couldn't dent the might of the Dick, Kerr Ladies who still managed a 4-0 victory.
They can also boast the biggest crowd ever recorded for a women's club team game. On Boxing Day 1920, 53,000 spectators packed into Goodison Park, Everton to see Dick, Kerr Ladies take on St Helens Ladies and there were between 10,000-14,000 locked out unable to gain admission. There were so many people about the players even had to have a police escort to get them safely to their changing rooms. The team recorded yet another 4-0 victory with goals coming from Jennie Harris and a hat-trick from Alice Kell. An amazing total of £3115 was raised for charity which would be worth over £118,000 today!
Music hall comedian Harry Weldon invited the Dick, Kerr Ladies and a representative team made up of the best players from the rest of Britain, to play for The Harry Weldon Cup in a match staged at Anfield in early 1921. The rep team was made up of the best individual players from ladies teams throughout England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. One player even travelled from as far away as the island of Unst in the Shetland Isles. 25,000 spectators witnessed the demolition of the best of the rest as Dick, Kerr Ladies recorded an emphatic 9-1 victory.
The FA ban women's football in 1921 after almost 900,000 spectators turn out to watch them play. A short lived Ladies Football Association was set up in an effort to keep their house in order, but many teams did fall by the wayside. Dick, Kerr Ladies were in the fortunate position of having their own pitch to play on as the company had bought Ashton Park early in 1920. They played on a corner of the park which became known as 'Lively Polly Corner', so named after a washing powder that was advertised on wooden hoardings all around the enclosure.
They crossed the Atlantic to the shores of Canada and the USA for another soccer tour in 1922. However, upon their arrival in Canada they were refused permission to play there and told they would have to play against men's teams in the United States! The girls were devastated and left with no option but to agree to play. The tour lasted for nine weeks. They played nine games, won 3, drew 3 and lost 3.
They changed their name to Preston Ladies in 1926 after some 'trouble' at the factory, but would continue to be known as the world famous Dick, Kerr Ladies even to the present day.
The team played for 'The Championship of the World' in 1937. Challenged for this title by Edinburgh Ladies, the best team in Scotland, the Preston team were worthy winners by 5-1. In November of that year, they were honoured in the town at a Victory Dinner when they were presented with gold medals to commemorate their victory and celebrate the 20th anniversary of their formation.
The team can boast having the all time leading goal scorer in women's football. Lily Parr played for the Dick, Kerr Ladies from 1920-1951 and she scored over 1000 goals during her football career. Only the legendary Pele has scored more goals than Lily!
The first female manager of a women's football team was Kath Latham. Kath had been helping Alfred Frankland with all the secretarial duties for several years as his health began to fail and after his death in 1957 she took on the enormous task of running the club. It was Kath who had to take the monumental decision to disband the team in 1965 due to a lack of players.
But the Dick, Kerr Ladies can be proud of the fact that they have raised more money for charity than any other football team in the world. The records state that they raised somewhere in the region of £180,000, which has been estimated today to be worth around £10 million!
The Dick, Kerr Ladies were reunited for the first time in 1992 at an International Women's Soccer Tournament, The Lancashire Trophy, as part of the Preston Guild celebrations.
Joan Whalley became the first British female soccer player to feature in a national advertising campaign by sportswear giant Nike in 1996.
Dick, Kerr Ladies became 21st Century girls when they took part in an exhibition match at The Lancashire Trophy in 2000. The oldest player on the field was Nancy Thomson at 84 years of age!
Lily Parr became the first female player to be inducted into the National Football Museum Hall of Fame in 2002.
The Dick, Kerr Ladies were VIP guests of the FA at the semi final of the Women's European Championships at Deepdale in 2005.
Joan Whalley inducted into National Football Museum Hall of Fame, 2007.
Dick, Kerr Ladies and Preston North End juniors were guests at The National Football Museum to celebrate the history of women's football in Preston on International Women's Day, 8 March 2008.
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