15 December 2017
Dick, Kerr Ladies - official unveiling of a statue at Preston North End's Deepdale ground.
History will be made at Preston North End FC on 22 December with the unveiling of a memorial tribute to the Dick, Kerr Ladies football team to commemorate 100 years since they played their first game at this famous stadium.
The wall mounted memorial is the first of its kind in the world and is made from 3.5 tonnes of granite and will stand six metres high by four metres wide.
It was on Christmas Day 1917 that the Dick, Kerr Ladies took on Arundel Coulthards Foundry in a charity football match to raise funds for injured soldiers who had been fighting on the Western Front and convalescing at the nearby Moor Park Military Hospital.
A crowd of 10,000 spectators came to watch the match and £600 was raised for the soldiers, around £50,000 today.
The team went from strength to strength and soon became recognised as the best in the country. In 1920 they played the first ladies International at Deepdale against a French team from Paris in front of 25,000 spectators, a record crowd for the ground at that time.
Boxing Day 1920 saw them make history playing in front of 53,000 spectators at Goodison Park, Everton and with between 10,000 and 14,000 people unable to get in to the ground, this was a huge landmark for the ladies game.
In spite of an FA ban on women’s football in 1921, the Dick, Kerr Ladies continued to play against all the odds until 1965 and during that time they played 833 games of football, won 759, drew 46 and lost only 28 games. They raised in the region of £180,000 for charity, in excess of £10m in 2017.
A dedicated team of volunteers have worked hard to ensure that it has been an incredible centenary year for the team.
Having already been honoured with the first Blue Plaque in the world for women’s football attached to the factory in Preston where they were formed, a Centenary Dinner was held at Preston North End in July and the first National Women’s Walking Football Tournament, the Dick, Kerr Ladies Cup was staged at the UCLan Sports Arena when 16 teams from all over the country took part in the event.
The icing on the cake was a special award at the FA Women’s Awards at the Grosvenor Hotel in London earlier this year.
PNE have kindly given their support in siting the memorial at Deepdale and David Taylor, Deputy Chairman of Preston North End and the Chairman of UCLan said: “Both Preston North End and the University are happy to support the 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."
The memorial will be unveiled at Preston North End by Sheila Parker (National Museum Hall of Fame inductee), Rachel Brown Finnis (England international goalkeeper and FA Cup winner)and Gail Newsham (author, historian and former player with Preston Rangers).
Family members of some of the early pioneers, along with former players from the team will also be in attendance alongside Sue Smith, former England Lioness Legend and Doncaster Belles star, plus founder sponsors including The FA, BAE Systems, UCLan, PNE, FWP Architects, UEFA and the PFA.
The event is open to the public from 2.30pm with music from the East Lancashire Concert Band and a combined choir made up of The Kirkham Singers and Freckleton Village Singers.
All are welcome and the official unveiling is at 3pm.
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