THE name Dick, Kerr evokes strong emotions to all lady footballers everywhere but no strongly perhaps than in St Helens.

Ladies Football grew as a huge spectator sport as the First World War neared it’s end.

By far the most successful team was Preston based Dick, Kerr Ladies which included in its ranks two renowned local lasses Lizzie Ashcroft and Lilly Parr.

Before the sport was banned by the FA in 1921 Dick, Kerr Ladies played 828 games, losing just 24 times and drawing 46 games - a staggering 91.5% win ratio.

Lilly Parr at almost 6feet tall was a colossus of the game and was the First Lady inductee to the National Football Museum.

It wasn’t until 1970 when the FA dropped its ban and St Helens Town Ladies appeared in the return to play Lizzie’s Great Niece Anita Ashcroft was one of the first of the new breed of lady players.

In recognition of the pioneers of the Ladies game Lancashire FA and biographer Gail Newsham now stages an annual Dick, Kerr Ladies FC Women’s Walking Football Tournament.

This year’s event was staged at University of Lancashire Sports Arena in Preston drawing teams from all over the country.

St Helens entered an Over 50s team for the first time, with Anita Ashcroft now a keeper in the side, giving an excellent showing on the day with saves in open play and from the penalty spot.

The early games were especially tough on a blisteringly hot morning.

Defeats by single goals to Harlingen, Garstang, Hartshill and Bolton meant that their victory over Whey Aye Ladies propelled them into the Plate competition.

A narrow win on penalties over Birmingham, followed by another win over Whey Aye again courtesy of the spot kick gave the girls the right to contest the Plate Final.

Their opponents Phoenix Over 40s proved too strong as injuries finally took their toll.

An ankle injury to striker Julie Simmons and Wasp bite suffered by defensive Queen pin Liz McDonald required hospital treatment.

Anita ended her day with a hand heavily strapped but the team spirit endured Phoenix winning by the narrowest margin.

The team with their medals were heartily cheered onwards by family, friends and fellow Club Members.

The result with a team who in some cases had never met before (players drawn from the Club’s Monday morning and Wednesday evenings session) was a great reward for a fine battling performance.

St Helens Star: St Helens Ladies Walking Football

The team pictured in Dick, Kerr style were; Michelle Dunning, Jill Thomas, Sharon Hand, Eileen Nicholson, Anita Ashcroft, Julie Simmons Margaret Mills, Liz McDonald and Sheila Darwin.