Alfred Frankland was born in Blackpool in 1882. As a boy he attended
Freckleton Village School.
Frankland worked in the offices of the Dick, Kerr factory in
Preston. During the First World War the company produced
locomotives, cable drums, pontoon bridges, cartridge boxes and
munitions. By 1917 it was producing 30,000 shells per week.
Frankland used to watch the young women workers from his office
window, kicking the ball around in their dinner-breaks. Alice
Norris, one of the young women who worked at the factory later
recalled these games: "We used to play at shooting at the
cloakroom windows. they were little square windows and if the
boys beat us at putting a window through we had to buy them a
packet of Woodbines, but if we beat them they had to buy us a
bar of Five Boys chocolate."
Grace Sibbert eventually emerged as the leader of the women who
enjoyed playing football during the dinner-breaks. Born on 13th
October, 1891, Grace's husband took part in the Battle of the
Somme and in 1916 had been captured by the German Army and was
at the time in a POW camp. Frankland suggested to Grace Sibbert
that the women should form a team and play charity matches.
Sibbert liked the idea and Frankland agreed to became the
manager of the team.
Frankland arranged for the women to play a game on Christmas Day
1917, in aid of the local hospital for wounded soldiers at Moor
Park. Frankland persuaded Preston North End to allow the women
to play the game at their ground at Deepdale. It was the first
football game to be played on the ground since the Football
League program was cancelled after the outbreak of the First
World War. Over 10,000 people turned up to watch the game. After
paying out the considerable costs of putting on the game,
Frankland was able to donate £200 to the hospital (£41,000 in
Dick Kerr Ladies beat the Arundel Courthard Foundry, 4-0. They
went onto play and defeat other factories based in
Barrow-in-Furness and Bolton. The stars of the team included the
captain, Alice Kell, the centre-forward, Florrie Redford, and
the hard-tackling defender, Lily Jones.
On 21st December, 1918, the team played against Lancaster Ladies
at Deepdale and lost the game 1-0. Alfred Frankland was
impressed with the performances of three of the women playing
for Lancaster: Jennie Harris, Jessie Walmsley and Anne Hastie.
Four days later, the three women had been persuaded to join the
Preston side and played against Bolton Ladies on Christmas Day,
1918. Soon afterwards, another Lancaster player, Molly Walker,
joined the side. Frankland also recruited players from Bolton (Florrie
Haslam) and Liverpool (Daisy Clayton).
At the end of the First World War most women lost their jobs in
the munitions factories. However, some retained their interest
in football. For example, the Sutton Glass Works women's
football team reformed as St Helens Ladies' AFC. Some teams
retained the support of their employers. This included the Dick,
Kerr factory in Preston.
In early 1919 Dick Kerr Ladies beat St. Helens Ladies 6-1.
Alfred Frankland was very impressed with the performances of
Alice Woods and her fourteen year-old team-mate, Lily Parr.
After the game Frankland asked the two women to join his team.
Records show that Frankland paid these women 10 shillings a
game. In today's money that amounted to about £100. He also paid
their travelling expenses.
Women's football games were extremely popular. For example, a
game against Newcastle United Ladies played at St. James's Park,
in September, 1919, attracted a crowd of 35,000 people and
raised £1,200 (£250,000) for local war charities.
Lily Parr was one of the main stars of the team and in her first
season scored 43 goals for the club. Gail J. Newsham wrote about
Parr in her book, In a League of their Own (1994): "Standing
almost six feet tall, with jet black hair, her power and skill
was admired and feared, wherever she played. She was an
extremely unselfish player who could pin-point a pass with
amazing accuracy and was also a marvelous ball player. And she
was probably responsible in one way or another, for most of the
goals that were scored by the team".
The women came under a great deal of pressure from their
families not to play football. Molly Walker was treated as an
outcast by her boyfriend's family because they did not approve
of her wearing shorts and showing her legs.
Dick Kerr Ladies trained at Ashton Park, a sports ground owned
by the company. Several members of the Preston North End team
helped with the coaching. This included Bob Holmes, Johnny
Morley, Billy Grier and Jack Warner.
In 1920 Alfred Frankland arranged for the Federation des
Societies Feminine Sportives de France to send a team to tour
England. Madame Milliat, who had founded the federation, was a
great advocate of women playing football: "In my opinion,
football is not wrong for women. Most of these girls are
beautiful Grecian dancers. I do not think it is unwomanly to
play football as they do not play like men, they play fast, but
not vigorous football."
Frankland believed that his team was good enough to represent
England against a French national team. Four matches were
arranged to be played at Preston, Stockport, Manchester and
London. The matches were played on behalf of the National
Association of Discharged and Disabled Soldiers and Sailors.
A crowd of 25,000 people turned up to the home ground of Preston
North End to see the first unofficial international between
England and France. England won the game 2-0 with Florrie
Redford and Jennie Harris scoring the goals.
The two teams travelled to Stockport by charabanc. This time
England won 5-2. The third game was played at Hyde Road,
Manchester. Over 12,000 spectators saw France obtain a 1-1 draw.
Madame Milliat reported that the first three games had raised
£2,766 for the ex-servicemen's fund.
The final game took place at Stamford Bridge, the home of
Chelsea Football Club. A crowd of 10,000 saw the French Ladies
win 2-1. However, the English Ladies had the excuse of playing
most of the game with only ten players as Jennie Harris suffered
a bad injury soon after the game started. This game caused a
stir in the media when the two captains, Alice Kell and Madeline
Bracquemond, kissed each other at the end of the match.
On 28th October, 1920. Alfred Frankland took his team to tour
France. On Sunday 31st October, 22,000 people watched the two
sides draw 1-1 in Paris. However, the game ended five minutes
early when a large section of the crowd invaded the pitch after
disputing the decision by the French referee to award a
corner-kick to the English side. After the game Alice Kell said
the French ladies were much better playing on their home ground.
The next game was played in Roubaix. England won 2-0 in front of
16,000 spectators, a record attendance for the ground. Florrie
Redford scored both the goals. England won the next game at
Havre, 6-0. As with all the games, the visitors placed a wreath
in memory of allied soldiers who had been killed during the
First World War.
The final game was in Rouen. The English team won 2-0 in front
of a crowd of 14,000. When the team arrived back in Preston on
9th November, 1920, they had travelled over 2,000 miles. As
captain of the team, Alice Kell made a speech where she said:
"If the matches with the French Ladies serve no other purpose, I
feel that they will have done more to cement the good feeling
between the two nations than anything which has occurred during
the last 50 years."
Soon after arriving back in Preston, Alfred Frankland was
informed that the local charity for Unemployed Ex- Servicemen
was in great need for money to buy food for former soldiers for
Christmas. Frankland decided to arrange a game at between Dick
Kerr Ladies and a team made up of the rest of England. Deepdale,
the home of Preston North End was the venue. To maximize the
crowd, it was decided to make it a night game. Permission was
granted by the Secretary of State for War, Winston Churchill,
for two anti-aircraft searchlights, generation equipment and
forty carbide flares, to be used to floodlight the game.
Over 12,000 people came to watch the match that took place on
16th December, 1920. It was also filmed by Pathe News. Bob
Holmes, a member of the Preston team that won the first Football
League title in 1888-89, had the responsibility of providing
whitewashed balls at regular intervals. Although one of the
searchlights went out briefly on two occasions, the players
coped well with the conditions. Dick Kerr Ladies showed they
were the best woman's team in England by winning 4-0. Jennie
Harris scored twice in the first half and Florrie Redford and
Minnie Lyons added further goals before the end of the game. A
local newspaper described the ball control of Harris as "almost
weird". He added "she controlled the ball like a veteran league
forward, swerved, beat her opponents with the greatest of ease,
and passed with judgment and discretion". As a result of this
game, the Unemployed Ex Servicemens Distress Fund received over
£600 to help the people of Preston. This was equivalent to
£125,000 in today's money.
On 26th December, 1920, Dick Kerr Ladies played the second best
women's team in England, St Helens Ladies, at Goodison Park, the
home ground of Everton. The plan was to raise money for the
Unemployed Ex Servicemens Distress Fund in Liverpool. Over
53,000 people watched the game with an estimated 14,000
disappointed fans locked outside. It was the largest crowd that
had ever watched a woman's game in England.
Florrie Redford, Dick Kerr Ladies' star striker, missed her
train to Liverpool and was unavailable for selection. In the
first half, Jennie Harris gave Dick Keer Ladies a 1-0 lead.
However, the team was missing Redford and so the captain and
right back, Alice Kell, decided to play centre forward. It was a
shrewd move and Kell scored a second-half hat trick which
enabled her side to beat St Helens Ladies 4-0.
The game at Goodison Park raised £3,115 (£623,000 in today's
money). Two weeks later the Dick Kerr Ladies played a game at
Old Trafford, the home of Manchester United, in order to raise
money for ex-servicemen in Manchester. Over 35,000 people
watched the game and £1,962 (£392,000) was raised for charity.
The French team arrived for another tour of England in May,
1921. Their star player was Carmen Pomies. She was an
outstanding athlete and was a champion javelin thrower in
France. Pomies could play in goal or in the outfield. She was so
good that Alfred Frankland persuaded her to live in Preston and
play for Dick Kerr Ladies. Her first game was against Coventry
Ladies on 6th August, 1921.
In 1921 the Dick Kerr Ladies team was in such demand that Alfred
Frankland had to refuse 120 invitations from all over Britain.
The still played 67 games that year in front of 900,000 people.
It has to be remembered that all the players had full-time jobs
and the games had to be played on Saturday or weekday evenings.
As Alice Norris pointed out: "It was sometimes hard work when we
played a match during the week because we would have to work in
the morning, travel to play the match, then travel home again
and be up early for work the next day."
The players called Alfred Frankland "Father" or "Pop". Like many
men of his generation he always "lifted his hat" when talking to
women. He also wore a three piece suit and expected his players
to be well dressed. As Nancy Thompson pointed out: "Mr.
Frankland demanded nothing but the best for us, the absolute
best. But he also expected the best from us in return. we
weren't allowed to wear trousers anywhere in public, it wasn't
done in those days. We could do what we liked on the bus when we
were travelling, but we had to change back into our skirts or
dresses in the bus before we met any of the officials, that was
On 14th February, 1921, 25,000 people watched Dick Kerr Ladies
beat the Best of Britain, 9-1. Lily Parr (5), Florrie Redford
(2) and Jennie Harris (2) got the goals. Representing their
country, the Preston team beat the French national side 5-1 in
front of 15,000 people at Longton. Parr scored all five goals.
The Dick Kerr Ladies did not only raise money for Unemployed Ex-Servicemens
Distress Fund. They also helped local workers who were in
financial difficulty. The mining industry in particular suffered
a major recession after the war. In 1920 the mine-owners
notified their workers that miners' wages were to be reduced.
Robert Smillie, the president of the Miners' Federation of Great
Britain (MFGB) called a strike in an effort to persuade the
owners to change their minds. Under the terms of the Triple
Industrial Alliance, the National Union of Railwaymen (NUR) and
the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) declared that
they take industrial action in support of the miners. However,
at the last moment, the leaders of the NUR and TGWU changed
their minds, and although the miners went ahead with their
strike they eventually had to give in and accept lower wages.
In March, 1921, the mine-owners announced a further 50%
reduction in miner's wages. When the miners refused to accept
this pay-cut, they were locked out from their jobs. On April 1
and, immediately on the heels of this provocation, the
government put into force its Emergency Powers Act, drafting
soldiers into the coalfield.
The government and the mine-owners attempted to starve the
miners into submission. Several members of the Dick Kerr team
came from mining areas like St. Helens and held strong opinions
on this issue and games were played to raise money for the
families of those men locked out of employment. As Barbara
Jacobs pointed out in The Dick, Kerr's Ladies: "Women's football
had come to be associated with charity, and had its own
credibility. Now it was used as a tool to help the Labour
Movement and the trade unions. It had, it could be said, become
a politically dangerous sport, to those who felt the trade
unions to be their enemies.... Women went out to support their
men folk, a Lancashire tradition, was causing ripples in a
society which wanted women to revert to their prewar roles as
set down by their masters, of keeping their place, that place
being in the home and kitchen. Lancashire lasses were upsetting
the social order. It wasn't acceptable."
The 1921 Miners Lock-Out caused considerable suffering in mining
areas in Wales and Scotland. This was reflected by games played
in Cardiff (18,000), Swansea (25,000) and Kilmarnock (15,000).
Dick Kerr Ladies represented England beat Wales on two
successive Saturdays. They also beat Scotland on 16th April,
The Football Association was appalled by what they considered to
be women's involvement in national politics. It now began a
propaganda campaign against women's football. A new rule was
introduced that stated no football club in the FA should allow
their ground to be used for women's football unless it was
prepared to handle all the cash transactions and do the full
accounting. This was an attempt to smear Alfred Frankland with
Once again the issue was raised about the health risks of
women's football. Dr. Elizabeth Sloan Chesser said: "There are
physical reasons why the game is harmful to women. It is a rough
game at any time, but it is much more harmful to women than men.
They may receive injuries from which they may never recover."
Dr. Mary Scharlieb, a Harley Street Physician added: "I consider
it a most unsuitable game, too much for a woman's physical
Barbara Jacobs argued in The Dick, Kerr's Ladies that "the FA
brought out its tame doctors to verify that, in fact, football
did terrible things to women's bodies. Mr. Eustice Miles had a
scientific reason for believing this, or so he said - "The
kicking is too jerky a movement for women and the strain is
likely to be severe." So are we to assume that women's bodies
are unsuited to jerky movements? That's put paid to sex, hasn't
Alfred Frankland invited Dr. Mary Lowry to watch a game being
played by Dick Kerr Ladies. Afterwards she commented: "From what
I saw, football is no more likely to cause injuries to women
than a heavy day's washing."
On 5th December 1921, the Football Association issued the
Complaints having been made as to football being played by
women, the Council feel impelled to express their strong opinion
that the game of football is quite unsuitable for females and
ought not to be encouraged.
Complaints have been made as to the conditions under which some
of these matches have been arranged and played, and the
appropriation of the receipts to other than Charitable objects.
The Council are further of the opinion that an excessive
proportion of the receipts are absorbed in expenses and an
inadequate percentage devoted to Charitable objects.
For these reasons the Council requests the clubs belonging to
the Association refuse the use of their grounds for such
This measure removed the ability of women to raise significant
sums of money for charity as they were now barred from playing
at all the major venues. The Football Association also announced
that members were not allowed to referee or act as linesman at
any women's football match.
The Dick Keer Ladies team were shocked by this decision. Alice
Kell, the captain, spoke for the other women when she said: "We
play for the love of the game and we are determined to carry on.
It is impossible for the working girls to afford to leave work
to play matches all over the country and be the losers. I see no
reason why we should not be re-compensated for loss of time at
work. No one ever receives more than 10 shillings per day."
Alice Norris pointed out that the women were determined to
resist attempts to stop them playing football: "We just took it
all in our stride but it was a terrible shock when the FA
stopped us from playing on their grounds. We were all very upset
but we ignored them when they said that football wasn't a
suitable game for ladies to play."
As Gail J. Newsham argued In a League of their Own: "So, that
was that, the axe had fallen, and despite all the ladies denials
and assurances regarding finances, and their willingness to play
under any conditions that the FA laid down, the decision was
irreversible. The chauvinists, the medical 'experts' and the
anti women's football lobby had won - their threatened male
bastion was now safe."
The continued existence of women's football was under threat. As
David J. Williamson pointed out in Belles of the Ball: "All the
majority of lady footballers had ever wanted to do was to simply
play football! Over the years since the First World War they had
given so much and asked very little in return. To he accused of,
in effect, dipping their fingers in the till, only left them
disgusted. Now that they had been officially banned the ladies
would need to do an awful lot of thinking. To merely carry on
and play the game would he more a question of survival than
enjoyment. To achieve this new goal the ladies would need the
guts and determination they had shown thus far. All the
enthusiasm for the game that had so endeared them to the
thousands of spectators at the charity matches now had to he
brought to bear on simply keeping the game itself alive, if that
was at all possible."
Alfred Frankland responded to the action taken by the Football
Association with the claim: "The team will continue to play, if
the organisers of charity matches will provide grounds, even if
we have to play on ploughed fields."
Alfred Frankland decided to take his team on a tour of Canada
and the United States. The team included Jennie Harris, Daisy
Clayton, Alice Kell, Florrie Redford, Florrie Haslam, Alice
Woods, Jessie Walmsley, Lily Parr, Molly Walker, Carmen Pomies,
Lily Lee, Alice Mills, Annie Crozier, May Graham, Lily Stanley
and R. J. Garrier. Their regular goalkeeper, Peggy Mason, was
unable to go due to the recent death of her mother.
When the Dick Kerr Ladies arrived in Quebec on 22nd December,
1922, they discovered that the Dominion Football Association had
banned them from playing against Canadian teams. They were
accepted in the United States, and even though they were
sometimes forced to play against men, they lost only 3 out of 9
games. They visited Boston, Baltimore, St. Louis, Washington,
Detroit, Chicago and Philadelphia during their tour of America.
Florrie Redford was the leading scorer on the tour but Lily Parr
was considered the star player and American newspapers reported
that she was the "most brilliant female player in the world".
One member of the team, Alice Mills, met her future husband at
one of the games, and would later return to marry him and become
an American citizen.
In Philadelphia four members of the team, Jennie Harris, Florrie
Haslam, Lily Parr, and Molly Walker, met the American Women's
Olympic team in a relay race of about a quarter of a mile. Even
though their fastest runner, Alice Woods, was unavailable
through illness, the Preston ladies still won the race.
Dick Kerr Ladies continued to play charity games in England but
denied access by the Football Association to the large venues,
the money raised was disappointing when compared to the years
immediately following the First World War. In 1923 the French
Ladies came over for their annual tour of England. They played
against Dick Kerr Ladies at Cardiff Arms Park. Part of the
proceeds were for the Rheims Cathedral Fund in France.
Dick, Kerr Engineering was eventually taken over by English
Electric. Although they allowed the team to play on Ashton Park,
it refused to subsidize the football team. Alfred Frankland was
also told that he would no longer be given time off to run the
team that was now known as the Preston Ladies.
Frankland decided to leave English Electric and open a shop with
his wife in Sharoe Green Lane in Preston where they sold fish
and greengroceries. He continued to manage Preston Ladies with
Some of the players also lost their jobs with English Electric.
Over the years Frankland had raised considerable sums of money
for Whittingham Hospital and Lunatic Asylum. The hospital was
always willing to employ and provide accommodation for
Frankland's players. This included Lily Parr, Florrie Redford,
Jessie Walmsley, Lily Lee and Lily Martin. In 1923 Frankland
persuaded Lizzy Ashcroft and Lydia Ackers, two of St Helens best
players, to join Preston Ladies. Both women went to work for
Lydia Ackers later told Gail J. Newsham: "He (Frankland) got me
my job at Whittingham, he was in with everybody. After the war
there was no work at Dick Kerr's and when the team were
finishing at the factory, they all went to work at the
Nancy Thompson played for Edinburgh Ladies before joining
Preston Ladies: "Mr. Frankland had contacted me several times
about playing for the team. He said a job would be found for me
and also a place to live. He had a lot of influence at
Whittingham Hospital and he got me a job there without any form
to sign, no introduction, not even an interview."
During the General Strike English Electric stopped Preston
Ladies from playing on Ashton Park. Alice Norris pointed out:
"It was our training night and we were told not to go up to
Ashton Park anymore. Something must have gone wrong between him
(Frankland) and the firm."
Despite the lack of sponsorship, Preston Ladies continued to be
the best team in England. In 1927 they beat their rivals for the
title, Blackpool Ladies, 11-2. Florrie Redford, Jennie Harris
and Lily Parr all scored goals in the game.
Alice Woods stopped playing for Preston Ladies when she married
Herbert Stanley in September, 1928. Other players like Alice
Kell got married and gave up football. Florrie Redford emigrated
to Canada in 1930 to pursue her career as a nurse whereas Carmen
Pomies returned to France. Jennie Harris kept playing until the
Lily Parr, who never got married, continued to play football for
Preston Ladies. Lydia Ackers, who played for many years with
Parr argued that: "I have never seen any woman, nor many a man,
kick a ball like she could. Everybody was amazed when they saw
her power, you would never believe it."
Joan Whalley was another one who played in the same team as Lily
Parr later wrote: "She had a kick like a mule. she was the only
person I knew who could lift a dead ball, the old heavy leather
ball, from the left wing over to me on the right and nearly
knock me out with the force of the shot.... When she took a left
corner kick, it came over like a bullet, and if you ever hit one
of those with your head... I only ever did it once and the laces
on the ball left their impression on my forehead and cut it
Some shrewd observers believed she was good enough to play for a
club in the Football League. Bobby Walker, a Scottish
international player, belied that she was the "best natural
timer of a football I have ever seen." Alfred Frankland went
further describing her as the "best outside left playing in the
On 8th September, 1937, Preston Ladies beat Edinburgh Ladies to
win the "championship of Great Britain and the World". Preston
won 5-1 with Lily Parr scoring one of the goals. Joan Whalley,
who was only 15, also scored. A World Championship Victory
Dinner was held at Booths Cafe in Preston.
Alfred Frankland made a speech where he claimed: "Since our
inception we have played 437 matches, won 424, lost 7 and drawn
6, scored 2,863 goals and had only 207 scored against. We have
raised over £100,000 in this country and in foreign lands for
charity. We have won 14 silver cups, 5 of them outright, and
hold a trophy awarded for the most meritorious assistance given
Preston Ladies only played a small number of games during the
Second World War. The rationing of petrol made it difficult to
travel to games. Alfred Frankland also worked as a ARP Warden
during the war and did not have the time to organize games.
In 1946 Lily Parr was made captain in recognition of 26 years
service. She had only missed 5 games since joining the team in
1920. The local newspaper reported that she had scored 967 goals
out of the teams total score of 3,022.
The Football Association refused to lift its ban on women
players. In 1947 the Kent County Football Association suspended
a referee because he was working as a manager/trainer with Kent
Ladies Football Club. It justified its decision with the comment
that "women's football brings the game into disrepute".
In 1950 Alfred Frankland calculated that since 1917 Preston
Ladies had played 643 games. Of these, they had only lost 9
games. He also claimed that that the team had raised £140,000
Frankland was forced to retire as manager of Preston Ladies in
1955 because of poor health. Kath Latham became the new manager.
Stella Briggs, the team captain, became joint manager with
Latham in 1956.
Alfred Frankland died on 9th October, 1957.
We are indebted to the research carried out by Barbara Jacobs
(The Dick, Kerr's Ladies) and Gail Newsham (In a League of their
Own) for the information in this article.