Warrington’s Forgotten Football History
Today we have another blog for you by our volunteer Carol Mayo. As some of you will remember Carol has been looking into women’s history in Warrington:
This month I have selected a football story which was covered by The Warrington Guardian and The Examiner. In fact it was important enough for the papers to give a full account of the day. I hope to give an insight into the match and the post – match events.
On Thursday 13th October 1921 the world famous Dick Kerr Ladies played the Farnworth Ladies from near Bolton. The Farnworth players were recruited from the surrounding Bolton cotton mills. A crowd of 4,000 watched the match at Warrington Rugby Club at Wilderspool. The aim of the match was to raise funds for the St Austin’s Warrington Branch of the British Legion. Fundraising matches were a major part of the Dick Kerr matches and earlier that week they had also played at Southport, Skelmersdale, Ormskirk and Stockport.
The Mayor, Councillor Henshall kicked off the game and the referee was Mr S Woods. Dick Kerr Ladies were captained by Alice Kell and Florrie Redford was the vice-captain. It was a one sided match as the inexperienced Farnworth team were facing players who had precise passing and striking skills. The match report praised Lily Parr for her strong and powerful play, and the goal keeper Emily Grice made very few saves as the Farnworth goal was under constant threat. Before half time the Dick Kerr Ladies were four nil up. The second half kicked off and they went on to score another seven goals. The final score was eleven nil. After the whistle was blown the match ball was autographed by the players from both sides and it was put up for auction under the covered stand. It was auctioned several times by Mr H Stafford and finally it was bought by Mrs F.A. Frost. £10.6s.6d was raised for the British Legion Fund and the gate receipts totalled £177.
Post – match the teams visited the King’s Café on Bridge Street for refreshments and afterwards they went on to the Palace Hippodrome Theatre in Friars Gate for the 6.45 house. The early evening entertainment included singers, comics and jugglers. Muriel George and Ernest Butcher were a duo who had a repertoire of traditional English folk songs and performed some of these alongside comedy duets. Next on stage was The Faye Four Sisters who were talented pianists and singers. Following the Sisters were a comedy double act Ford & Lewis who were described as “vaudeville’s popular comedians”. (Warrington Guardian 12th October 1921). According to theatre adverts they had a naval theme to their routines. What this was I don’t know but I would like to find out. Shortly after performing in Warrington they went into “Robinson Crusoe” pantomime in Nottingham. This was to be their eighth pantomime which the provincial papers considered to be a record. Next up were The Tossing Testros a husband and wife team who were “sensational balancers, jugglers and hat throwers”. They had extra interest for the audience as they wore artistic costumes and had some very unusual props. In an earlier performance in Australia in January 1915 the props included a piano and an Indian rickshaw! The second comedy act was George Perry. A few years later in November 1924 he performed at The Palace in Bath and he was described as “merry, bright and original”. The final comedian of the night was Neville Delmar whose specialities were light comedy, whistling and singing. Neville also performed a song of his own “Belinda Loves”. The final act was The Barts Trio who performed a balancing and dancing act.
I have looked at the teams’ day in Warrington quite closely as it all adds to the picture of the day’s events. Obviously the local officials considered the Dick Kerr Ladies team important enough to entertain and wanted to make it an occasion to remember. The theatre’s location and descriptions of the acts provides some insight into popular entertainment in 1921. The Dick Kerr Ladies were part of sporting entertainment. They were skilful and they were appreciated by large crowds at Football Association grounds. Several weeks later all this was to change. On 5th December 1921 the F.A. banned women’s football from being played on their football grounds as they said it was unsuitable for women. With the passage of the ban women’s football became part of women’s forgotten history.
Remembering their visit to Warrington is important for women’s history and Warrington’s history too.