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Lily Parr (Lillian) was born in 1905 in St Helens, Merseyside and died in 1978. In 2002 she was the only woman to be made an Inaugural Inductee into the English Football Hall of Fame[1] at the National Football Museum for the United Kingdom. She is most well known for playing for The Dick, Kerr's Ladies team, which was founded in 1917 and based in Preston, Lancashire.[2]


Although she was sometimes referred to as being 6 ft tall, she was actually 5 ft 10in. Unlike women's teams today, Lily played against both male and female teams and she reputedly had a harder shot than any male player. She had started life playing football with her brothers on waste ground in St Helens, before playing for the St Helen's Ladies team. It was there she spotted and recruited into the Dick, Kerr's Ladies for a job in the Dick, Kerr & Co. factory in Preston and 10 shillings in expenses per game.[2]

Lily scored 43 goals for the team in her first season, when she was only 14 years old.[3] She totaled more than 900 goals in her career between 1919 and 1951.

Lily also played in the first ever recognized women's international football tournament between England and France in London in 1920. There were 4 games in total, which included a crowd of 25,000 that saw the Dick, Kerr's Ladies win 2-0 at Deepdale, home of Preston North End.[4][5]

The Dick, Kerr Ladies went on to tour France, playing against local French teams. They also toured Canada and the USA in 1922,[6] after the 1921 Football Association ban on women playing on any of their member grounds. In the USA they played nine games against men's teams. They won three, drew three and lost three games.

The Dick, Kerr's Ladies Team

In summary, during World War I in England there was a growing interest in Ladies Football and Dick, Kerr was the name of the Preston Munitions Factory where most of the women on the team worked(See Dick, Kerr & Co.). The Dick Kerr Ladies team regularly drew large crowds which included a famous event on 26 December 1920 at Goodison Park that drew more than 53,000 spectators.[4]

The number of women's teams had continued to grow during this time up until 1921 which was when the Football Association banned women from playing on their member grounds, ostensibly because of a fear that sport might be damaging to women's health, but more likely because the interest in their performances were embarrassing the football establishment. Support for women's teams declined, but many women such as Lily Parr, continued to play on village greens and other non-associated land. Lily continued with the Dick, Kerr's Ladies even when they lost the support of their factory and were renamed the Preston Ladies.[2]

Personal life

Lily was born in a rented house in Union St, Gerrards Bridge, which at the time was the most deprived and poverty stricken part of St. Helens. She was the 4th child of 7 to George and Sarah(Sal) Parr. Gerrards Bridge was largely home to the descendants of Irish Catholic laborers. Her father, George, was a laborer at the local Glass factory and her family rented out space in their yard and rooms in their house for extra income.she was very werid

During her time working for Dick, Kerr & Co she lodged in Preston with one of her team mates, Alice Norris. She was good friends with her team-mate Alice Woods, who was also from St Helens. While playing for the Dick, Kerr's Ladies she was noted for her large appetite and almost constantly smoking Woodbine cigarettes.

After working in the Dick, Kerr & Co. factory Lily trained as a nurse. She worked in the Whittingham hospital, a mental hospital, until she retired as a Ward Sister. While working at the hospital she continued to play women's football for the Preston Ladies until 1951. This included taking part in further tours of France and Belgium.

Lily lived out most of the rest of her life in Goosnargh, near Preston, with her partner, Mary. She lived openly as a lesbian and is a noted individual in British Gay and Lesbian history. Along with this she is particularly respected as she came from a working-class background. With the help of her partner Mary's organizational skills, she became the first member of her family to own her own home.

Lily died of breast cancer in 1978 and is buried in the town of her birth, St Helens, Merseyside. Her beneficiary was her nephew, Roy Parr, with whom she had a strong relationship.[2]

The Lily Parr Exhibition Trophy

On February 11, 2007 in support of the UK LGBT History Month the London Lesbian Kickabouts[7] team and the Paris team Arc en Ciel (Rainbow) re-enacted the first match between the Dick Kerr Ladies and the Paris ladies team. The London Lesbian Kickabouts won 7-3.[8]

This event is expected to be repeated annually and they have named the trophy the Lily Parr exhibition trophy in Lily's honor.

On 9 February 2008, the 2nd Lily Parr Exhibition Trophy Match took place between LLKA and Paris Arc en Ciel at the Hub in Regents Park, London. LLKA won 4-1 with their goals being scored by Christelle Quiniou (2), Gill Rimmer and Kim Bourke. Their captain was Sib Trigg. The Trophy was presented by Commedienne Rhona Cameron and historian Barbara Jacobs, author of the Dick Kerr's Ladies. [1]



In a League of Their Own! The Dick, Kerr Ladies 1917-1965 ISBN 1-85727-029-0

  • Jacobs, Barbara (July 2004). The Dick Kerr's Ladies. Constable and Robinson. ISBN 1841198285. 
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