Women’s football trailblazers would be so proud of England’s Euro 2022 Lionesses

Alice Woods played as midfielder for Preston’s Dick, Kerr Ladies Football Club and travelled the world while doing so

A woman who played for Preston’s Dick, Kerr Ladies Football Club 100 years ago would be proud of the The Lionesses ahead of tomorrow’s Euro semi-final, says her granddaughter.

Alice Woods played as midfielder on the team and travelled the world while doing so. Her granddaughter, Yvonne Quigley, says she could be ‘beside herself’ ahead of the upcoming semi-final game.

Dick, Kerr Ladies was one of the earliest known women’s association football teams in England. It began in 1917 and remained in existence for almost 50 years.

Yvonne said: “She would be beside herself by now, she absolutely loved football. I can see her now sitting in her chair, shouting at the TV. She would be cheering them on.”

“It didn’t matter what the sport was, she just loved it. We used to swim and she would be there screaming at our races well into her 80s. I’d say: ‘Grandma, you’re going to have a heart attack’ and she’d say: ‘It doesn’t matter, I’m doing what I love doing’.”

The famous Dick, Kerr Ladies were founded during the First World War from women working at a munitions factory owned by William Dick and John Kerr and based in Preston. Alice was drafted in from elsewhere to strengthen the side. The team beat a French side 2-0 in 1920 in the first ever international women’s association football game.

They attracted a crowd of 53,000 at Everton ’s Goodison Park the same year, where they beat rivals St Helens Ladies 4-0, a record for a women’s club-level football game in England, Mirror reports.

Talented athlete Alice was a sprinter as well as a footballer, training with her pet whippet on a cinder track and winning the first women’s race, an 80-yard dash, held under Amateur Athletic Association of England rules in 1918.

“She would never brag about achievements, you’d have to ask her about them,” said Yvonne, 59. “I’m just so proud of her.”

The Football Association banned women from playing at its members’ grounds in 1921 – and this rule stayed in place for 50 years. The reason for implementing the rules was to ‘protect’ women who were not physically able to play football.

England ace Ellen White has hailed National Lottery players for helping her achieve her dreams – and spoken of her excitement at the next generation of female football stars.

Thanks to National Lottery players, over £50million* of funding has been raised for women’s football over the past 10 years, helping players develop at all levels of the sport across the country.

Star Ellen – England Women’s all-time leading scorer, with 50 goals in 105 appearances – was speaking ahead of the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 while meeting grassroots footballer Marty Trivonova (above), who plays for National Lottery-funded team Actonians LFC.

The 33-year-old said: “It’s vital for lottery players to see where their money’s going, how it influences sporting success and really changes people’s lives. The National Lottery isn’t just about big wins and making winners astonishingly rich. It’s put £50million into the women’s and girls’ game. I want to read about how it’s helped young girls who now play football. They’re the stories I want to hear – they’re powerful, they’re inspiring.”

However, Alice thought the real reason was jealously over the large crowds the game attracted. Yvonne added: “My grandma was very disappointed because each of the towns had a miner’s fund and they used to raise money for that. It was also, of course, the disappointment of not being able to play.

“I think it did change her – she went from a sportswoman who was always in kit to a married, stay at home mum who had grandad’s tea on the table. I’m glad she played football because she did all her living then.”

“Playing football was frowned upon by her own mum, who told her it wasn’t ladylike and to stick to running. That’s how much she loved football – she adored her mum and wouldn’t want to upset her. It was very hard.”

Alice died 31 years ago aged 92 and Yvonne has many wonderful memories of her grandmother, known as “Grandma Boss”. She said: “She was a lovely lady, she was my role model and I adored her.

“Whoever you were, she’d give you a flapjack and a cup of tea and you’d have a great conversation. I miss her every day, she was just a wonderful woman. If you knew her you felt rich.”

Alice was a mum of four and grandmother of nine. The younger women in her family have inherited her sporty genes. Yvonne’s sister Gaynor competed at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and her daughter Lauren Quigley, whose middle name is Alice, won three silver medals for England at the Commonwealth Games in the same sport.

By

Vikki White
Chantelle HeedsLive News Reporter
  • 08:32, 26 JUL 2022

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