THIS week marked the 100th anniversary of a significant occasion in women’s football when St Helens Ladies thrashed the legendary Dick Kerr Ladies team, featuring Lily Parr, 5-1.

Lizzy Ashcroft

Steve Bolton has researched the career of his grandmother, Lizzy Ashcroft, who had a lengthy career of 15 years playing for two of the greatest women’s football teams: St Helens Ladies FC and the legendary Dick Kerr Ladies.

St Helens Ladies were formed sometime during 1919 from the World War 1 ‘Munitionettes’ teams from St Helens such as Sutton Bond, Sutton Oak and Rainhill Munitions.

They rose to prominence by frequently opposing the famous Dick Kerr Ladies team, who were the only team to ever defeat them. St Helens Ladies were not beaten by Chorley, Cheshire, Horrockses, Stoke, Huddersfield Atalanta, Birkenhead, Listers or Barnes of Bolton.

St Helens Star: St Helens LadiesSt Helens Ladies (Image: Lizzy Ashcroft Collection)

Steve says they played in front of approximately 200,000 spectators in total.

On April 20, 1921, Lizzy made her debut for St Helens Ladies, captained by Edith Waine, in front of 30,000 at St Andrews, Birmingham, against Stoke Ladies aged just 16.

A landmark victory

Meanwhile, on March 31, 1923, 100 years ago, Steve has discovered that the St Helens team famously ended Dick Kerr Ladies’ winning run, beating them comprehensively 5-1.

The game was played to raise money for the mayor of St Helens Hospital Fund. The difficulties of finding a ground in St Helens meant that the Council actually closed one of the public parks for the day and charged entry. 

Dick Kerr’s only goal was scored by St Helens-born legend Lily Parr.

Lizzy’s grandson Steve Bolton said: “I have been researching my Granny’s football career for several years now.

“Unlike her great friend Lily Parr, my granny had careers with two great football teams: St Helens and the Dick Kerr Ladies. Lily was recruited at such a young age that she did not appear in any high profile games for St Helens.

“St Helens Ladies FC were the second greatest team of women footballers in the Golden Era of women’s football leading up to the ban.

“Despite this, although they played the legendary Dick Kerr Ladies in 19 known matches they lost every single game. Their best result was in Wrexham on Saturday 19 February 1921 when they lost 2 v 1 in front of a crowd of 10,000.

“I am so proud now, on my behalf, on my granny’s behalf and on behalf of the women of St Helens to reveal that they had one last 20th ‘hurrah’ against the Dick Kerr Ladies, and they went out in style.

“One-hundred years ago this weekend St Helens with my granny thrashed the Dick Kerr Ladies with Lily Parr by five goals to one.”

St Helens Star: A report of the gameA report of the game (Image: Lizzy Ashcroft Collection)

Meanwhile, Lizzy would go on to make her own debut for Dick Kerr Ladies just a matter of days after the 5-1 thrashing, where she went on to have a 13-year career with the greatest women’s team in history.

“Ten days later my granny was a Dick Kerr Lady,” added Steve.

“Women’s football history has changed.

“This is not in any book. All of the books about women’s football history will have to be changed.

“My granny, the girl from Parr, changed history.”

St Helens Star: A short film about Lizzy, called Granny, has been made starring Penny Ryder who was in SkyfallA short film about Lizzy, called Granny, has been made starring Penny Ryder who was in Skyfall (Image: Submitted)

At Dick Kerr Ladies, Lizzy played under legendary captains, Alice Kell, Florrie Redford, Lily Parr, and between 1932 and 1934 was vice-captain under Lily Parr before in 1935 becoming captain.

That year she also led only the 2nd ever Dick Kerr Ladies tour of France.