Lily Parr played for the most successful women’s team of all time, the Dick, Kerr Ladies.
She started playing football as a girl with her brothers in St Helens before playing for the St Helens Ladies team. Parr was then recruited for the Dick, Kerr Ladies team, a side made up mainly of workers from the Dick, Kerr and Co factory in Preston.
The factory made tram cars and light railway equipment, but with the outbreak of war turned their attention to munitions. At this time most of the men had gone off to war, and more women were working in the factories. Many work places formed women’s football teams and the game grew in popularity during this period.
Parr started her Dick, Kerr’s career at the age of 14 and scored 43 goals in her first season. The team played 828 matches, won 758, drew 46 and lost only 24. In that time they scored more than 3500 goals, and Parr scored around 1000 of them.
At 6 feet tall, Parr was described as a larger than life character who loved a practical joke. She often “borrowed” the match ball and sold it off!
Parr played against both male and female teams and she reputedly had a harder shot than any male player. The team drew large crowds and in December 1920 a match against St Helens ladies, which Parr's side won 4-0, attracted a crowd of 53000 at Goodison Park. Parr was paid 10 shillings per week and travel expenses (around £100 in today's money).
In 1920 Parr played in the first ever recognised women's international between England and France and a crowd of 25000 saw the Dick, Kerr Ladies, representing England, win 4-0. They went on to tour France, playing against local teams.
Women’s football continued to grow in popularity until 1921 when the Football Association banned women from playing on their member grounds. Following the English ban the team toured America in 1922. Parr continued to play with Dick, Kerr Ladies, later renamed Preston Ladies until 1951.
After leaving the Dick, Kerr and Co factory Parr trained as a nurse. She continued to play football for Preston Ladies until 1951 and toured France again during this period.
Parr died at the age of 73 of breast Cancer and is buried in St Helens.