It all started
in the Preston munitions factory of Messrs Dick, Kerr & Co Ltd
in 1917. As with other industries women were a vital part of the
workforce during the war years. They were subject to the
discipline that was essential in such a dangerous industry.
Factory supervisors encouraged women to participate in football
in their work breaks and played against the men.
Preston’s Moor Park Military Hospital matron had the idea of a
charity football match to raise money for servicemen. Christmas
Day 1917 saw the first charity ladies football match at Deepdale
with a crowd of 10,000 that raised, at 2012 rates, £36,000.
Following the war Dick, Kerr’s returned to manufacturing such
things as trams. Men returned from the war and to a large degree
returned to the industries they had left. The need to raise
funds, however, continued and the ladies game went from strength
to strength all over the country.
This coincided with social change for women that included
winning the vote for women over 30 years of age.
Dick, Kerr’s invited a French ladies team over in 1920 for a 4
match tour. This included a match at Deepdale with a gate of
25,000. Dick, Kerr’s reciprocated later in the year by visiting
France and returned unbeaten after being watched by a total of
Their popularity was evidenced on Boxing Day 1920 when a crowd
of 53,000 watched them at Goodison Park, Liverpool that raised,
at 2012 rates, £100,000.
Unfortunately, ladies football became a victim of their own
success when football’s governing body, the Football
Association, banned the ladies game from football grounds in
1921. Although many teams fell by the wayside Dick, Kerr’s
continued by playing on rugby grounds.
Ladies International Football at Cardiff.
The French team opens their English tour
against Dick Kerr's eleven in 1922
The team even
embarked on a 9 week tour of the USA and Canada in September
1922. President Harding actually kicked off the match held in
Although the team name changed to Preston Ladies FC in the
thirties everyone still knew it as Dick. Kerr’s.
The years’ following the second world war still saw large crowds
watching ladies football as a way of raising money for ex-
However, the team folded in 1965 after 48 years, 832 games, 759
wins and an average of just 1 defeat every 2 years.
Its influence on football did not end there with 2 of its former
players becoming the first women to be inducted into the
National Football Museum’s Hall of Fame.
Gail wove a wonderful story of individual and team achievements
through 5 decades of social change. Her work will ensure the
exploits of these Lancashire women will live on into the future.