In 2002 she was the only woman to be made an inaugural inductee into the English Football Hall of Fame at the National Football Museum.
Parr was born in a rented house in Union Street, Gerrard's Bridge, St. Helens; the fourth of seven children born to George and Sarah Parr. Her father was a labourer at the local glass factory and the family rented out space in the yard and rooms at their house for extra income.
As a girl Parr displayed little enthusiasm for traditional pursuits such as sewing and cookery. Instead her fearless streak and robust frame allowed her to compete alongside boys in both football and rugby. Under the tutelage of her elder brothers she became proficient in both sports.
During the First World War in England there was a growing interest in women's football and Dick, Kerr & Co. was the name of the Preston munitions factory where most of the women on the team worked. The Dick, Kerr's Ladies team regularly drew large crowds including a famous event on 26 December 1920 at Goodison Park that drew more than 53,000 spectators.
During her time working for Dick, Kerr & Co she lodged in Preston with one of her team mates, Alice Norris. She was good friends with her team-mate Alice Woods, who was also from St Helens. While playing for the Dick, Kerr's Ladies she was noted for her large appetite and almost constant smoking of Woodbine cigarettes.
P: from the Bill Parr collection, photograph of Lily playing football by William, Lily’s brother.
Lily Parr was an English professional women's association football player who played as a winger for the Dick, Kerr's Ladies team of Frankland. Frankland had raised considerable sums of money for Whittingham Hospital and Lunatic Asylum. The hospital was always willing to employ and provide accommodation for Frankland's players. This included Lily Parr. While working at the hospital Lily Parr met her partner Mary and together they bought a house in Preston. Openly lesbian, she lived with Mary in Preston and has become a LGBT rights icon.
Unlike women's teams today, Parr played against both male and female teams and she reputedly had a harder shot than any male player. She had started life playing football with her brothers on waste ground in St Helens, before playing for the St Helen's Ladies team. There she was spotted and recruited into the Dick, Kerr's Ladies and a job in the Dick, Kerr & Co. factory in Preston, with 10 shillings in expenses per game.
Parr scored 43 goals for the team in her first season, when she was 14 years old. She totaled more than 900 goals in her career between 1919 and 1951.
Parr played in the first ever recognised women's international football tournament between England and France in London in 1920. There were four games in total, and a crowd of 25,000 saw the Dick, Kerr's Ladies—representing England—win 2–0 at Deepdale, home of Preston North End.
The Dick, Kerr Ladies went on to tour France, playing against local teams.
The number of women's teams had continued to grow during this time until 1921 when the Football Association banned women from playing on their member grounds. Support for women's teams declined, but many women such as Parr continued to play on village greens and other non-associated land. The Dick, Kerr Ladies toured North America in 1922 following the English ban. Banned again on their arrival in Canada, they toured the USA and played nine games. They won three, drew three and lost three against the top division men's teams. Parr continued with the Dick, Kerr's Ladies even when they lost the support of their factory and were renamed the Preston Ladies.
After working in the Dick, Kerr & Co. factory Parr trained as a nurse. She worked in Whittingham Mental Hospital until she retired. While working at the hospital she continued to play women's football for the Preston Ladies until 1951. This included taking part in a further tour of France.
Parr lived out most of the rest of her life in Goosnargh, near Preston. Openly lesbian, she lived with her partner Mary and has become a LGBT rights icon. She died of breast cancer in 1978, aged 73, and is buried in the town of her birth, St Helens, Merseyside. Her heir was a nephew, Roy Parr.
Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
CreateSpace Store: https://www.createspace.com/4910282
Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500563323/?tag=e
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MZG0VHY/?tag=e
Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher
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