EXCLUSIVE: Lily Parr is regarded as one of the great female footballers of all time and old photos of the winger and her teammates have been discovered in a loft
These unseen photos of one of England’s greatest ever female footballers have been found in a loft.
The images showing Lily Parr and her team-mates are going on display at the National Football Museum.
She was one of the game’s first female superstars – scoring around 1,000 goals in a career spanning over 30 years.
Belinda Scarlett, curator of women’s football at the museum, said: “As well as marking their footballing ability, the display tells of the girls’ defiance to play the game they loved while the powers that be tried to ban them.
“Lily is one of the most important figures in world football but is far from a household name. We hope to redress that… with fresh attention on the women who defied the ban and inspired future generations of girls to play football.
“We are pleased to further tell the story of Lily and her team-mates’ remarkable achievements.” They played in front of huge crowds here and across the globe.
The photos – taken in the 1930s – belonged to Lizzy Ashcroft who was a friend and team-mate. Some images are football-related, others show them in parks, going for cycle rides and hanging out with other top European players.
The photos were found by Lizzy’s grandson, Steve Bolton, in an attic at a relative’s home where they had been in a suitcase for four decades.
Lizzy Ashcroft Collection / Nati SWNS)
Born in St Helens, Lancs, in 1905, Lily began her career as a youngster with St Helens Ladies then moved on to Dick, Kerr Ladies FC in Preston in 1920.
Popularity of the women’s game was surging but in 1921 the FA banned female teams from playing at grounds of clubs that were FA members.
But Lily and her team – later renamed Preston Ladies – kept going.
Lily, who played until the 1950s, was renowned for having one of the most powerful shots in the game.
She appeared in some of the world’s first women’s international matches and was a trailblazer around the globe.
Lily, who was a nurse at a psychiatric hospital, died in 1978 aged 73. In 2002, she became the first woman inducted into the museum’s Hall of Fame.
The new display at the venue in Manchester city centre is dedicated to her life and legacy. In 2019 the museum unveiled a statue of Lily – the first statue of a female footballer in the UK.
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