The Dick, Kerr Ladies football team attracted 53,000 fans to Everton’s Goodison Park on Boxing Day 1920. But instead of being used as proof of women’s football’s popularity, it turned out to be the beginning of the end.
Throughout 1921, the matches came thick and fast for Dick, Kerr Ladies, but storm clouds were brewing for the women’s game.
League football had resumed in 1919 after the Great War, with men coming back from the front to resume their former lives.
However, in every aspect of life in 1920’s Britain, women were finding their voice in society. Suffrage had been granted to women over the age of 30 in 1918 — although genuine equality only came in 1928 with universal suffrage for those aged over 21.
However, in sport, patriarchy still ruled.
On December 5, 1921, just under a year after the spectacularly successful match at Goodison Park, the Football Association (FA) banned women from using its grounds, saying football was “quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged”.
The FA did not recognise women’s football again in any form until 1969, almost 50 years later.