UCLan hosts UK’s first ever women’s walking football tournament to mark 100th anniversary of the Preston team that made history
The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has teamed up with The Football Association (FA) to mark the 100th anniversary of the Dick, Kerr Ladies football team with what is believed to be the UK’s first ever women’s walking football tournament.
More than 150 women over the age of 40 took part in the inaugural National Women’s Walking Football Tournament at UCLan Sports Arena. It was organised by UCLan Football Development Officer Cian McEvoy and Gail Newsham, author of In a League of Their Own! A history of Dick, Kerr Ladies FC and a renowned expert on the team.
The six-a-side tournament commemorated 100 years of the Dick, Kerr Ladies, who to this date remain the most successful women’s football team in history. At their peak in the 1920s they played in front of 53,000 spectators at Goodison Park, Everton, with between 10,000 to 14,000 people locked outside the stadium because it was full.
The tournament follows the world first blue plaque for women’s football, unveiled in the team’s honour at the former Dick, Kerr & Co, now Alstom, factory building on Strand Road where the team originally formed one hundred years ago. Former Dick, Kerr players June Gregson came to watch the tournament and lend her support.
"Not only are we celebrating history, but we are once again making women’s football history right here in Preston."
Gail Newsham commented: “This inaugural National Women’s Walking Football Tournament has been an incredible success and is a stepping stone for an even bigger international event next year. While keeping the Dick, Kerr Ladies name in the spotlight and preserving their legacy, it also serves to promote the game of football for older players who might not get the same opportunities as their younger counterparts. Not only are we celebrating history, but we are once again making women’s football history right here in Preston.”
Cian McEvoy said: “The story of the Dick, Kerr Ladies is a key element of Preston’s sporting history and as a University that works closely with the local community, we are proud to support this exciting tournament and help to remember the most successful women’s football team to date.”
The Women’s Walking Football Tournament and blue plaque unveiling are just two ways that Gail, the University and The FA are marking the team’s centenary year. In March, UCLan hosted a conference discussing discrimination against women in sport and the University’s Law School, using Gail’s research and exclusive archive photos, created a museum display documenting the history of the team that will be exhibited in and around the county in schools and public places.
David Taylor, who is the Chairman of UCLan and the Deputy Chairman of Preston North End, said: “Both the University and Preston North End are happy to support Centenary events to celebrate the Dick, Kerr Ladies Football Team. What these women achieved both on the field and off the field in terms of raising money for injured soldiers during the First World War is remarkable by any standards. The city of Preston can be rightly proud of the heritage and both the University and the Football Club will play there part in raising funds to create a well-deserved and permanent memorial.”
"The city of Preston can be rightly proud of the heritage and both the University and the Football Club will play there part in raising funds to create a well-deserved and permanent memorial."
In addition, on Saturday 1 July, The FA sponsored a commemorative Centenary Dinner for the Dick, Kerr Ladies at Preston North End when past and present legends of the women’s game all came to together to honour these trail blazing pioneers of ladies football.
Rachel Pavlou, The FA’s National Women’s Participation Manager, said: “The FA is pleased to support this inaugural DK Ladies FC national women’s walking football tournament. We are delighted that so many teams have entered in the first year, linking nicely with The FA’s strategy to double participation in women’s football by 2020.”
A bronze commemorative Dick, Kerr Ladies relief plaque is planned for the city at Preston North End and the University, along with the FA and BAE, have committed to providing some of the funding for the bronze plaque. Other local partners are being invited to contribute to this project, which will be another world first for the city.
Please visit UCLan's Flickr gallery for more photos from the event.