Dick, Kerr Ladies’ Centenary Dinner & First National Walking Football Tournament – 1st/2nd July 2017.

I’m not sure where to start when it comes to this weekend in Preston but suffice to say the COGs met some amazing ladies and inspirational people.  The first of those was Gail Newsham.  Everyone should know this lady’s name as well as the Dick, Kerr Ladies’ Football team, as the latter are still the most successful ladies’ team, in the World, ever and the former is making sure they are recognised for it!

It’s hard to believe that not too many people are aware of how these Ladies became the World’s most successful team, not only scoring an unimaginable number of goals but having record wins and crowds, including around 53,000 for a Boxing Day game in 1920.  Hopefully, that should change now due to the dedication and hard work of Gail Newsham, who has written a book “In a League of Their Own” which tells the incredible story of the courage and tenacity of the Ladies and the adversity they faced.  It’s extremely interesting and hard to believe in places!  Gail’s book can be purchased from here and proceeds from the book will go to towards getting recognition for the ladies:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/League-Their-Dick-Ladies-1917-1965/dp/1782221832/

Gail has been researching the Dick, Kerr Ladies for the last 25 years and championing the cause for them to be recognised, while raising money for a Statue to be erected, in their honour, at Preston North End FC.

To give you a very brief summary of the story of the Dick, Kerr Ladies, they started up while working in a munitions’ factory when the men went off to the First World War.  Their first game was on Christmas Day in 1917, at Deepdale, where 10,000 spectators saw them play.  They played games to raise money for the wounded soldiers and were very successful but, unfortunately, due to that success and the increase in crowds overtaking the men, the FA banned the ladies from playing and it wasn’t until the 1970s that ladies were allowed to play again. However, the Dick, Kerr Ladies didn’t stop playing and took their team to play overseas.   Their success in not only winning so many of their games, scoring a record breaking number of goals and showing courage and fight is a story which will surprise, fascinate and probably anger some after all they went through, but through Gail’s work, we now have the privilege of being able to read all the details and learn about these amazing Ladies.  You can read more about Gail’s work and the Ladies here:  http://www.dickkerrladies.com/

The FA are now currently supporting Gail Newsham to tell the story of the Ladies and celebrate them being the most successful team, ever. Indeed, in May this year, they were honoured with a Blue Plaque on the wall of the factory where the team was formed.

The Centenary Dinner held on Saturday 1st July at Preston NE FC’s Stadium was a fantastic event to celebrate the Dick, Kerr Ladies and was not only sponsored by the FA but attended by Baroness Sue Campbell, Rachel Pavlou, Hope Powell and Marieanne Spacey together with families of the Dick, Kerr Ladies and teams who had entered to play in the first National Walking Football Tournament the next day, to help raise funds for the Statue, among many others.


Following on from the very successful Centenary Dinner, the first Ladies’ National Walking Football Tournament was held on the Sunday, with teams of ladies playing in the Over 50s and Over 40s categories competing for a number of trophies, which were named after some of the Dick, Kerr Ladies.

The COGs from L-R: Carol Bates, Maria Iula Harris, Sandra Rees, Bex Tibbott, Carol Macey, Pauline Maddocks, Karen Turner, Celia Newman and Amy Fazackerley


Representatives from all of the teams.

Most ladies had played before and were a little more accustomed to playing walking football than the COGs but suffice to say the COGs carried on enjoying themselves and made lots of new friends!

We played 4 games and unfortunately didn’t manage to win one but we did win the “Brenda Eastwood Sportsmanship Award”, which was very gratefully received.

Congratulations to Newcastle who won the Cup in our League.  We did actually score one goal, which was against the goalkeeper who won “Best Goalie of the Tournament”!

Newcastle – Winners of the U40s’ Cup.

After the League games had been completed, the COGs played a great game of 9v9 against the UCLan side who had only started playing football that morning and everyone agreed it was a fantastic end to the football.

After the trophies were presented by Gail Newsham, we all went for a buffet and celebrated what was a fantastic weekend, before the 5 hour drive home!

What an amazing weekend we had and thanks to everyone for making us feel so welcome!

Carol Bates.