Even though it occurred almost 100 years ago, the Mottram Road ground’s record attendance of 12,000 was there to see a game between two women’s teams.
The famous Dick, Kerr Ladies side met a Rest of Lancashire XI to raise funds for the Ashton Infirmary (now Tameside Hospital). This is how the match was covered by the old Ashton-under-Lyne Reporter.
LADIES’ FOOTBALL MATCH AT BOWER FOLD
12,000 spectators witness a novel exhibition
Many hundreds of ladies give bright colour to the scene
Oh woman, in our hours of ease,
Uncertain, coy and hard to please.
Our football shirts and pants and boots,
You now play with instead of lutes.
And like it were the hand of fate,
You drew as well, a record gate
THE lady footballers at Bower Fold pleased me immensely and, I am sure, pleased all the men and vastly interested the large percentage of ladies who witnessed the game, even the great crowd which assembled on the Spion Kop which overlooks the ground.
It was another demonstration of the way woman has invaded man’s sacred preserves and has challenged the supremacy of the masculine sex without any opposition from the mere man. In fact, her very invasion drew a record crowd.
Nearly 12,000 people laughed and cheered the 22 ladies who fought a fierce battle at football. Dick, Kerr’s v the Rest of Lancashire. They demonstrated they knew the finesse as well as the rules of association football. They knew the virtue and the weakness of combination.
The right wing of Dick, Kerr’s demonstrated the true triangular movement time and again, whilst many a first league outside-left could hardly have put in better corner kicks than Miss Parr.
Dick, Kerr’s are a sturdy team of brilliant players. The Rest of Lancashire did their best to hold them, but in vain. The trimly-built goalie (Miss Waine) alone saved the scored from being 20 to none to ten to none.
But what a crowd. Someone suggested that if the tar was taken off the railings additional accommodation might be found for a few hundreds more. There were many hundreds of well dressed ladies on the stands and among the crowd, and their vari-coloured hats and dresses gave an undoubted bright and cheering aspect to the usually sombre gathering of men in colourless attire.
Mr Herbert Rhodes wore a beaming smile as he escorted the lady Mayor (Ada Summers) on to the field. Had he not demonstrated that if you provide the right sort of attractive football the crowds will come, and I heard it whispered on the grand stand that Mr Johnson was seriously thinking of signing on Miss Parr as outside-left. In fact, once or twice as Miss Parr heftily booted the ball from the corner flag, or neatly tricked and opponent with the skill and ease of a first league player, the crowd roared “sign her on”.
There was no mistaking the earnestness of the teams. There were no apologies for knocking a player off a ball and once the crowd roared with glee as one girl turned round to an opponent who had robbed her from behind as if to say “I’ll punch your head”. The attitude she struck was distinctly professional.
Naturally the humorist found full play for his witticisms. “Come on Lizzie”, “now then my bonny lads”, “shoot Emma”, “Come on Hegginbottom’s” were often heard, whilst when the referee gave a foul against one of the Preston girls, a voice from the stand cried “naughty girl”.
After Dick, Kerr’s had scored two or three goals the game was stopped because the girls wanted a bigger ball. None of your size fours for them, They desired the real thing and, surprising to add, they booted the heavier ball just as well. Of course, someone could not refrain from asking “will you have a balloon?”
One of the Rest of Lancashire backs pouted petulantly when she miskicked and the ball went for a corner. But how everybody laughed when Miss Waine took a goalkick, slipped and sat down rather abruptly with a woe-begone sort of air, while Miss Parr received the ball and coolly placed it in the empty goal.
Again they laughed when one of Rest’s half-backs did a sort of skipping-rope step in trying to trap the ball, and discovered the ball had slid from beneath her feet.
“Stop the game referee”, roared a section of the crowd as the ball knocked one of the dainty black and white-striped skull caps off the head of Miss Mills (Dick, Kerr’s). “Can’t you see the lady’s losing her hairpins?”
“Play the man Gertie, and never mind the ball”, yelled an excited voice from behind the Rest’s goal as the Dick, Kerr’s forwards came down in a perfect line, ominously sweeping towards the goal, just as if the lady to whom the remark was addressed was not doing her level best to play a manly game.
It was no namby-pamby game. Hard knocks were given and exchanged. There was no mistaking the earnestness of the teams. Dick, Kerr’s were the more tricky and the more deadly shots.
The box of tricks (Misses Harris, Redford and Parr) fully upheld their reputation, and I would back the Dick, Kerr’s team for scientific football (providing of course no vigorous play as allowed) against many a local team. Their knowledge of the way to keep on side, their combination, and their determination to shoot at the first opportunity, without dilly-dallying with the ball, was an object lesson for many a junior club. As a spectacle it was novel and refreshing without the least objectionable feature.
Bless the girls, what preserve of man is there that they have not yet invaded?
By Our Football Editor
Dick, Kerr’s 10 – Rest of Lancashire 0
TREMENDOUS interest was centred in the ladies’ game at Bower Fold on Tuesday afternoon when the famous Dick, Kerr’s team defeated the Rest of Lancashire in decisive fashion. The majority of the spectators were surprised by the capital play shown by the victorious side.
Both teams were given a hearty reception from the crowd, and this was renewed as the Mayor, Cllr Mrs Summers, accompanied by Cllr H Rhodes walked to the centre of the field. The Mayor kicked off and the game started.
I must confess to a feeling of surprise with the clever play shown by Dick, Kerr’s. They had not a weak spot in the team, if one could judge by the exhibition each gave, and although the opposition was not strong, the general conception of the game was really splendid. Miss Hastie had but two shots during the afternoon, so much did her side dominate the game.
Miss Kell, the captain and right full-back, was the best of two defenders. She displayed marvellous judgment in clearing. Their kicking was very fine and of good length.
At centre-half Miss Walmsley was in good form. She opened out the game very well and many times initiated attacks with delightful ground passes to the front rank. After seeing the forwards play, it can readily be understood how easily they win their games. There was method in everything they did, and plenty of power was put behind the final shots.
Probably the best of the line were Miss Harris and Miss Parr. The first named was very tricky whilst she showed excellent control of the ball and made many wonderful dribbles which left the opposing defence standing. No wonder she has such a fine record of goals to her credit.
Of Miss Parr it had been claimed that she could boot a ball from the extreme wing quite as well as many men professionals. This she amply demonstrated on many occasions and she also kept up her goalscoring record.
Miss Redford was a clever centre-forward. She showed much dash and resource and besides keeping in close touch with the wings, she shot with direction and force on many occasions.
As a team they were a decidedly clever combination and I would like to see them more fully extended, as it would reveal their strength.
The Rest of Lancashire, which was composed mostly of St Helens Ladies team were a very plucky lot and what they lacked in science they made up in enthusiasm. They were clearly outclassed yet on many occasions several of them showed that they understood the game. Their goalkeeper, Miss E Waine, was not responsible for the defeat. She played splendidly and saved numerous shots and was deservedly applauded for her work. Others to do well were Miss Makin, Miss Britch, Miss E Woods and Miss Ranson.
As to the rules of the game, the ladies gave ample evidence that they understood them. On one occasion Miss Redford smartly stepped over the halfway line into her own half and thereby placed herself on side. On other occasions the forwards kept well behind the ball and there was never any hesitancy when the referee gave a decision. In many cases they gave an object lesson to male players, and they never questioned the decisions of the referee.
Altogether it was a very enjoyable afternoon’s sport and was witnessed by a record crowd.
Ten thousand, four hundred spectators paid for admission, the receipts at the gates being £569. With ticket-holders it was estimated that more than 12,000 people were on the ground. The sale of the ball (autographed by the players) realised a sum of £19 5s. Truly a magnificent return for such a deserving cause.