Lily Parr: New museum gallery dedicated to trailblazer of the women's game

3 June 2020

Lily Parr: New museum gallery dedicated to trailblazer of the women's game

Lily Parr was one of most astonishing and important figures in English football © National Football Museum

Football’s first female football superstar Lily Parr is to get a new permanent museum gallery dedicated to her life and legacy.

The National Football Museum will celebrate Lily – England’s first international women’s footballer - by creating a gallery to the player inside the museum.

This gallery is expected to open in spring 2021 to coincide with the Football Association ban on women’s football exactly a century ago. Lily and many other women, defied authority and continued to play, helping the women’s game to survive.

The news comes exactly a year to the day that the museum unveiled a statue to Lily – the first statue ever for a female footballer.

Born in St Helens in 1905, Lily was one of most astonishing and important figures in English football.

Starting her career at hometown team St Helens Ladies, Lily moved on to Dick, Kerr Ladies FC and later Preston Ladies. Operating as an outside left winger, it’s believed she scored more than 980 goals in a 32-year career.

Lily was renowned for having an incredibly powerful shot. She played a major role raising the popularity of the women’s game at home and abroad. With Dick, Kerr Ladies FC she pioneered international women’s football travelling overseas to play matches. 

She played in significant football games including against St Helens Ladies at Everton’s Goodison Park which attracted a then record crowd of 53,000 and in the first recognised international women’s football match against France in 1920.

Off the field, Lily trained as a nurse and worked in Preston's Whittingham psychiatric hospital.

The new interpretation will explore Lily’s career and influence and will open early next year, 19 years after she became the first woman to be inducted into the National Football Museum’s Hall of Fame.

In her honour the museum unveiled a statue in 2019, created by sculptor Hannah Stewart, which remains the only statue to a female footballer in the UK. 

Fresh from a guest appearance in a special Women in Football webinar, Belinda Scarlett, curator of Women’s Football at the National Football Museum, said: “We are thrilled to benefit from the AIM Biffa award which will enable us to create a new museum gallery dedicated to Lily Parr and her achievements.

“I think that people may have heard the name Lily Parr and that she playedfootball. But many have no real understanding of her dramatic story or influence. And more importantly, how her story fits into the narrative of women’s football.

“The impact and legacy of women like Lily on the development of women’s football regionally, nationally and internationally, is highly significant and under-represented.

“We unveiled a statue to Lily Parr at the museum last year. The AIM Biffa Award funding will enable us, in a sense, to bring this statue and her story to life.”

Get involved

The National Football Museum wants to hear from people who love women’s football and want to get involved in the creation of content for the new gallery. You can fill-in an online survey by clicking here.

If you know lots about Lily or are a newcomer to the women’s game you can also get in touch: 

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© Women in Football 2020

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