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Manchester High School for Girls

DISCOVERING THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF WOMEN’S FOOTBALL

A group of  students from Manchester High School for Girls had a unique opportunity to visit the  women’s football archives of the National Football Museum and meet the collections team in Preston on 11th December.

The team behind the museum’s ‘Hidden History of Women’s Football’ project invited MHSG as the only school in the country to see the items. The trip also coincided with the 100th anniversary of the Dick, Kerr Ladies playing their first match at Deepdale on Christmas Day 1917; making it all the more special.

The girls delved into the history of women’s football with the help of Jean Kelly, Senior Research Fellow at De Monfort University’s International Centre for Sport History and Culture. She is a leading British Sports Historian who specialises in Women’s History Senior Research. Jean also acts as a historical consultant to the National Football Museum; particularly for elections to the English Football Hall of Fame.

Mrs Rowley, PE teacher, accompanied the girls and explained: “Jean told us there were tens of thousands of items in the archives. She showed us 100 year old match reports, football shirts from world famous footballers and, more importantly, archives about women’s development in the game.

“We looked at old ladies’ football boots, and read the famous article of 1921 which described how the game of football is unsuitable for females and how it ought not to be encouraged.”

Despite its popularity during the First World War, women's football was banned by the FA in 1921 and, from then on, prohibited for a full 50 years.

At the end of the trip, the girls were taken to see the Preston's Dick, Kerr & Co. munitions factory in 1917 where the Dick, Kerr Ladies football team was founded to raise money for wounded soldiers. A blue plaque, unveiled this year by relatives of the team’s founders, now adorns the wall of the old factory. It honours ‘the most successful’ women's team and is dedicated to female footballers of the time.

Mrs Rowley concluded:

“This trip was incredibly rare and we are very thankful for Jean and the museum for giving us this amazing opportunity. The girls and I came away in awe of those pioneering women who paved the way for gender equality in sport.”