Monday, April 26, 2010

26 April 1905 - Instead Of A Rose, England's Lily

On 26 April 1905, Dick, Kerr's Ladies winger and the first woman to be inducted in the English Football Hall of Fame Lily Parr was born in St. Helens, Lancashire.

The fourth of seven children, Parr (pictured, far right) grew up playing football with her brothers before joining St. Helens Ladies. There, she was spotted by someone from the Dick, Kerr & Co. locomotive factory, who sponsored the most successful women's team in the country - the Dick, Kerr Ladies. She joined them in 1919 when she was 14 years old and scored 43 goals for them in her first season. She would go on to score more than 900 goals before her retirement in 1951.

In 1920, Parr and the other Dick, Kerr's Ladies represented England against France in a match recognized as the first women's international, winning 2-0.

When the FA banned women's football in 1921, Parr and her team continued to play on non-FA grounds despite decreasings attendances. In 1922, she toured the United States with Dick, Kerr's Ladies and played eight matches against top division US sides, winning three, drawing three, and losing two.

Parr continued to play until 1951, by which time Dick, Kerr's Ladies had been renamed Preston Ladies. Openly gay, she lived with her partner Mary until her death of breast cancer in 1978. In 2007, the London Lesbian Kickabouts club established the Lily Parr Exhibition Trophy in honor of Parr's accomplishments.

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