Lancashire

Dick, Kerr Ladies: 'Best ever' women's football team honoured

Dick, Kerr Ladies v French XI Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Dick, Kerr Ladies (in white) played numerous international fixtures before they disbanded in 1965

The "most successful" women's team ever have been honoured with the first blue plaque dedicated to female footballers.

Dick, Kerr Ladies were founded at Preston's Dick, Kerr & Co. munitions factory in 1917 to raise money for wounded soldiers.

Three years later, 53,000 fans watched them play at Everton's Goodison Park, which remains one of the largest crowds for the women's game in the UK.

The plaque on the factory was unveiled by relatives of the side's founders.

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Media captionDick Kerr Ladies honoured with blue plaque

Dick, Kerr Ladies entertained about 10,000 spectators in the first game on Christmas Day 1917, which took place at Preston North End's Deepdale ground and raised £600 for wounded soldiers.

They went on to record a whole series of firsts for the women's game, including having the first female manager and taking part in the first women's international game - a match against a French XI which they won 2-0 in front of 25,000 fans.

However, in 1921, the Football Association (FA) banned the women's game, on the grounds that football was "unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged".

Despite the ban, the side continued to play across the world and chalked more than 200 games without defeat.

They disbanded in 1965, four years before the Women's Football Association was formed, due to a lack of players.

Image copyright Uclan
Image caption The grandmothers of David Coulton and Valerie Conn were founder members of the side

Families of some of the side's original stars, along with representatives from the FA and England's first captain Sheila Parker, who started her career with the team, came together for the unveiling of the plaque.

Gail Newsham, who wrote a book about the team, said they were "the most successful women's team there has ever been and they have been forgotten for too long especially in their home town".

"Whatever has happened in women's football, Dick, Kerr Ladies did it first," she said.

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