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Team GB 2012 v The Dick Kerr Ladies Team 1914

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 in Twenty Twelve we find ourselves enraptured by the style
as seventy odd thousand patrol the Wembley mile
with names like Smith and Houghton and Marta of Brazil
these women heroes of today they pass and glide and thrill
and yet a century ago their war-time game was born
a seed was sown and how it’s grown in spite of all the scorn
for way back then ruled by men the game would first embrace
the gentler sex who eaned respect for playing with such grace

2 Leave a comment on verse 2 0 ‘twas no-one quite like Lily Parr up North in rugby land
when footie was a cissie game but fans still crammed the stand
and crowds of fifty thousand were more than commonplace
they came in curiosity but not to see her face
they flocked in awe to wonder at young women in the war
and cries of “get ’em off love” rang loud when they did score
for back in nineteen seventeen they’d come from near and far
to see the Dick Kerr Ladies team led by young Lily Parr

3 Leave a comment on verse 3 0 no softy touch nor bit of stuff a Woodbine on her lips
exceptional left footed too deceptive swerving hips
nine hundred goals in all she scored for England and the girls
St.Helen’s born she shunned the scorn to shock the football world
those Sundays when the pubs would play upon the fields of stone against those sturdy drunken lads our Lily held her own
and in munitions factories with pride they’d speak her name
an England captain so deserved and icon for the game

4 Leave a comment on verse 4 0 and fans recall a moment when they waited patiently
a cow-pat by the corner-flag caused much hilarity
but Lily took it in her stride and in her face that day
of all who filled that Dick Kerr side young Lily led the way
no holding back no lack of strength no timid girlie show
but skill and depth and passion shone wherever they would go
for no-one quite like Lily has ever graced this game
long may she reign un-challenged long my we speak her name

5 Leave a comment on verse 5 0 in Twenty Twelve we think of them with pride and with a smile
as seventy odd thousand patrol the Wembley mile
with names like Smith and Houghton and Marta of Brazil
these women heroes of today they pass and glide and thrill
and yet a century ago when Lily showed them how
you wish that they could see it all as we can see them now

6 Leave a comment on verse 6 0 for way back then ruled by men the game would first embrace
the gentler sex who eaned respect for playing with such grace
and now today they have their say and prove they can compete
not with their looks or how they cook but with hearts and feet

Adapted from an original poem which was written and appeared here in 2005 after a Woman’s Hour piece I caught on Lily Parr’s life .

When Englishmen went off to fight World War I in 1914, women were thrown into traditional male roles at home, at work and on the sports field. Nowhere was this gender shift more apparent than at a Preston factory owned by two Scots, WB Dick and John Kerr, where tramway and railway equipment was made, as Ben Lyttleton discovered.

By 1917, women had taken over the once male-dominated factory and were routinely hauling heavy loads and operating dangerous machinery: so it was no surprise when they challenged the men to an inter-factory football match. The women loved the game and decided to set up Dick, Kerr Ladies – the team played matches to raise money for war charities devoted to ex-servicemen and made £600 in their first game on Christmas Day, 1917. Within three years, over 53,000 fans were watching them play St Helen’s Ladies at Goodison Park. The company realised how popular the women’s game was and ploughed money into the team in return for generating publicity.

Dick, Kerr Ladies played abroad as well, and enjoyed successful trips to France and Holland, where they were greeted like superstars. Leicester University-based academic Alethea Melling, whose work includes theses on women’s football in 1921, the Dick, Kerr Ladies tour of North America in 1922, and international women’s football from 1920-1945, explained: “The team were the first blend of marketing and football.

Their club colours were black and white jerseys and blue shorts and their England colours were white jerseys and blue shorts. The women also wore striped hats to cover their hair.

FA ban

The popularity of the team led The Football Association to ban women’s football at its members grounds on 5 December 1921. Ostensibly this was due of concerns that women were not physically able to play football, but there was a belief that the popularity of the team made some in the men’s game feel threatened.

USA tour

Despite the ban, the team continued to play on non-FA grounds. In late 1922 the team went on a tour of Canada and the U.S.A. On their arrival in Canada, they were told that they couldn’t play, so they crossed the border into the USA.

Once in the USA, they discovered they were due to be playing against men’s teams, some of which included immigrants who had previously played in the British football league, plus at least one American who would go on to represent the US at the 1930 World Cup finals. Dick, Kerr’s Ladies acquitted themselves well, winning three games, drawing three, and losing three. They proved tough opponents.

“I played against them in 1922,” recalled Paterson goalkeeper Peter Renzulli. “We were national champions and we had a hell of a job beating them.”[2]

Later history
During its history the team played 828 games, winning 758, drawing 46, and losing 24.

The teams’ name changed to Preston Ladies F.C. in the latter part of the 1920s and carried on playing until 1965.

The FA finally recognised women’s football in July 1971, 50 years after they had banned the game.

Source: http://footballpoets.org/poems/team-gb-2012-v-the-dick-kerr-ladies-team-1914/