W for Women`s Football

The first recorded football match between women was in 1894, and since then the sport has come on in leaps and bounds.

The real advance came when women working in the munitions factories during the First World War took up football as a pastime; many factories had teams, and a munitionettes cup was played for in 1918 with the final being at Ayresome Park, Middlesbrough in front of 22,000 fans, with Blyth running out easy winners over Bolkclow Vaughn, 5-0, with the now legendary Bella Reay grabbing three of the goals.

Dick, Kerr's Ladies were also founded in 1894 as a factory side, quickly developing into one of the most famous ladies football teams ever and their memorabilia is now amongst the most expensive; Lily Parr was their most famous player, and books and documentaries have been made of her achievements. We are informed that this team appears on a photographic card, possibly by Ardath? Any ideas? We may not have found that, but we have been sent a link to two sites that feature the ladies on a Baines card - the first is front only, that can be viewed at http://donmouth.co.uk/womens_football/dick_kerr.html  and it is a red card, with a red football - whilst the second is a green card and ball, and it shows the back and front of the card, that is https://www.footballsoccercards.com/1918-the-1st-ever-dick-kerrs-ladies-rookie-womens-football-team-baines-football-trade-card-11700-p.asp

Despite the fact that ladies football had kept workers healthy, provided entertainment and relief for those affected by war, and raised millions of pounds for charities, in 1921 the Football Association actually banned women from holding matches on football league grounds, and almost all womens football ceased till well into the 1960's; in fact the ban remained until 1971. 

The first womens F.A. Cup final was played in 1971, and won by Southampton, who won the first three finals and have a total of eight victories, lying second in the all time winners table behind Arsenal on fourteen wins. The early ladies would have been amazed to see there are many professional women`s football teams, and how many people come to watch them. The big three teams in England are Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City, the latter two competing in this year's final, at Wembley Stadium, locking horns with three trophies each. In the end Chelsea won, 3-2. And the attendance was almost fifty thousand. 

If you hunt, you will find lady footballers on vintage cigarette cards and postcards. Some time between 1895 and 1900, Ogden's issued twelve cards which have come to be known as "Cricket and Football Terms - Women" (O/2-14 : RB.15/69 :  RB.21/170.1 : H.314) And do note that some of these cards are actually rugby football. These cards were what is known as standard size, 67 x 36 m/m, and were un-numbered. In our original Reference Book RB15 it is stated that the backs are in black with "Ogden's Gold Medal Cigarettes" to the top and a list of seven brands below.  However by 1956, for our World Tobacco Issues Index, it had been discovered that there were two other versions. 

The first of these had been issued in India through Ogden's agents G. Cox & Co of Calcutta, and we know it was a new printing because the cards had no caption to the base. These are actually listed in the London Cigarette Card Catalogue and Handbook as item H.318, and a small picture appears in the latter, of the cricket term "Play Up". Below the picture it adds that "According to later information the series consists of the same 12 subjects as in H.314". It must have been decided at that point to combine them.

The second version must have come to light after 1950, and it was again another printing as it was branded in the caption area, with "Otto de Rose Cigarettes". The football cards are A Good Back, A Good Catch, A Forward, A Place, Going to Take a Drop, Her Middle Stump, Line Up Girls Mark your Men, Mustnt Touch it With the Hands, Our Bowler, Our Wicket Keeper, Play Up and The Grace of the Eleven. We aim to find permanent illustrations of all these, whether by link or with the uploading of scans.  

Another early card was issued in 1900 as part of Clarke & Son's "Sporting Terms" (C90-4 : H.83). These cards are squarer than normal, measuring 38 x 58 m/m. Entitled "Forward", it shows two women, to the rear a stately lady in a grey, full dress, and to the front a female footballer in a far more "forward" attire, wearing what looks like "Bloomers" over blue tights. Actually this set breaks down into sub sets, twelve Cycling Terms, twelve Football Terms, twelve Golf Terms and fourteen Cricket Terms. And each card can be found with one of ten different brands. However this is the only lady footballer featured.

Picture postcards of female footballers come in various styles. The most sought after are the real photos of teams and single players, often these are local works teams, so when at card fairs it pays to check in the topographical boxes as well as the sporting ones. You also get comic cards, most suggesting how unladylike the sport is, and that girls who played football were either 'forward' with their morality, or that they would lose their femininity and turn into men