In 1917 a new sport was born in the munitions factories of Britain. Within two years women's football had become one of the most popular spectator sports, and the most famous team was the Dick, Kerr's Ladies, of Preston, Lancashire. The factory girls became media stars, touring France, and then America, where they found themselves teamed against men. Abruptly, in 1921, the Football Association banned the sport, fearing that it detracted from the popularity of the men's game: the prohibition lasted for half a century. Dick, Kerr's Ladies survived, but its glory years were 1917-22, when its star players were Alice Woods, a calm but competitive world-class sprinter and miner's daughter from the politically active mining community of St Helens, and Lily Parr, who was taller than most men by the time she was 14. Barbara Jacobs, who shares their birthplace, St Helens, tells the story of the two women and the team, and what lay behind the runaway success of their sport - the closure of men's League games in the Great War, the charitable nature of the game, the need to provide sporting activities for munitionettes. She reveals too, the political and social issues that led to its shameful a
Barbara Jacobs is a novelist, freelance journalist, advice columnist and broadcaster. Her novel for young adults, Stick, won two major UK awards and her most recent book Loving Mr Spock (2003) was a personal account of her partner's battle with Asperger's Syndrome. She writes a weekly advice column for several London newspapers and has her own radio phone-in on Century 106. She lives in Leicester.