Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Women's football in Belfast in 1918

A women's football team from the early 20th century
Women's football is increasing in popularity and gaining increased coverage on television.  However women's football was also popular during the First World War, when many games were played to raise money for charity.  It was helped at that time by the fact that women were starting to work in munitions' factories and they were invited to join the remaining male workers in their lunch-time kick-abouts.
However in 1921 the Football Association banned all women's teams from playing on the grounds of teams affiliated to the FA.  It was only in 1969 that the situation changed with the formation of the Women's Football Association. 
I came across a local reference to women's football in the Northern Whig for 27 July 1918.  This reported that the Ulster Women's Gift Fund - 14th Royal Irish Rifles (YCV) Comforts Committee had raised £94 8s 7d and that this was the proceeds of a Ladies Football Match at Grosvenor Park, organised by Mrs Walter Scott and Mrs Mercer.  The sum of £36 had been deducted for 'amusement tax'.
The advertisement was signed by Dehra Chichester of Moyola Park, Castledawson.
Dehra Parker and her grandson, James Chichester Clark (1931)
She was then the wife of Lieutenant Colonel Robert Chichester MP (1874-1921) and was herself elected to the Northern Ireland parliament to represent Londonderry from 1921 to 1929.  Later she remarried and returned to the Stormont parliament as Dehra Parker, representing South Londonderry from 1933 to 1960.  She was succeeded by her grandson, James Chichester Clark, who became the fifth Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.

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