Women’s Football and the British Army. From the Great War to the Present Day
22 May

Join a panel of experts at the National Army Museum as they discuss the historic relationship between women’s football and the British Army.

Football has been a feature of Army life since the mid-19th century. From kickabouts in military bases worldwide to helping establish the professional game we know today, the Army and its soldiers have long been passionate about the sport.

The ban on women’s football during much of the 20th century has eclipsed its important role on the home front during the First World War. In this special evening event at the National Army Museum, leading experts will examine the teams that delighted fans and raised money for war charities.

The panel will also look at lifting the ban in 1971 and the subsequent role of women’s football in the modern British Army.

About the Panel 

Amanda Whittington

Amanda Whittington is a UK playwright. Her 40+ plays for stage and radio include ‘The Invincibles’, which sets the story of England’s progress in the 2023 Women’s World Cup against the rise and fall of First World War football giants, Sterling Ladies.

Steve Bolton

Steve Bolton is a historian specialising in women's football. His work features in many books, documentaries and plays, including ‘The Invincibles’ by Amanda Whittington. He is credited as a producer for the short film 'Granny', about his international footballing grandmother, Lizzy Ashcroft.

Kristina Wright

Captain Kristina Wright of the Adjutant General's Corps (AGC) has been involved in Army Football at all levels for over 25 years. She made her first appearance for the Army Representative Women's team in 1999 and is currently player-manager of the AGC team.

Daniel Cowling

Daniel Cowling is National Army Museum historian with interested in modern British and European history. He completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge, where he wrote a thesis on the British occupation of Germany. His first book, ‘Don’t Let’s Be Beastly to the Germans’, was published by Head of Zeus in 2023.

This event is part of our Football and War series, presented in partnership with the Army Football Association, The Western Front Association and the Football and War Network.

Cost: £8.00

Book via The National Army Museum. 

The National Army Museum has a memoir written by Miss McLean of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (later Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps). The daughter of a Preston North End footballer, she describes playing for the Army Pay Office establishment at Fulwood Barracks, Preston, in 1916:

'Record Office also formed a ladies team and we played each other on the Preston North End football ground. This game was a huge success, the money went to war comforts etc. A match was then arranged for Dick Kerr's Ladies team to play Pay and Record office teams on the Blackburn Rover ground. I think we were the first to beat Dick Kerr's team. This match was a treat for the convalescent soldiers stationed at Whalley Hospital who filled the stands. I was proud to be captain.

'The Directors of Blackburn Rovers invited us to dinner after the match. The Chairman had known my father, who had played at Blackburn many times. The Chairman said he would have signed us for Blackburn if we were only men. I had been brought up on football as long as I could remember, my father being known as Jimmy McLean who played for Preston and many other teams. The Chairman remarked on the likeness of my play with my fathers'.

To find out more members of The Western Front Association can use their member login and search ‘Women in football’ in our Searchable Magazine Archive. This produces 22 results, including articles on the Preston Army Pay Office Ladies’ Team. (Stand To! Issue 130 features the article 'The First Lionesses! The Army Pay Office Preston Ladies Football Team During The Great War' by John Black.

National Army Museum, , Royal Hospital Road, London, SW3 4HT
Women’s Football and the British Army. From the Great War to the Present Day, info@nam.ac.uk
22 May 2024 18:30