Soup Kitchen Soccer I

Women's football in North-East England during the 1921 and 1926 coal disputes

I am grateful to Evan Martin and David Hamilton for their help in compiling this account.

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During the coal disputes of 1921 and 1926 women's football teams once more took to the field to raise money for charity - this time in support of local distress funds and soup kitchens. The organisation of the games was more informal than during the war, and was conducted on a highly localised basis. The regional press largely ignored these events, and one has to look to local sources for the scanty accounts which were recorded. Nevertheless it is possible to construct a reasonably accurate picture of the events of those times. If anyone can add any information I would be grateful if they would contact me

85 years later this dispute is still an emotive subject in the former mining communities; I shall therefore attempt to keep the following brief introduction as objective as possible.


During the Great War, the production of coal was no less important to the war effort than the manufacture of munitions. Given its history of troubled industrial relations, the Government took direct control of the industry at an early stage in the conflict. Its concern was to maximise output, rather than efficiency, and this led, as in other industries under its control, to wage and price inflation. After the war, both domestic and export demand for coal and other commodities fell, with a drastic effect upon prices. American exports of coal to Europe and South America cut deeply into markets formerly dominated by Britain, and by 1920 the economics of the British coal industry were in a mess. The Government decided to return the mines to private ownership, but this was opposed by miners, partially for political reasons, but mainly because they feared for their standard of living.

In July 1920 the Miners' Federation submitted a claim for a flat rate increase of 2s per shift, based upon the rise in the cost of living. Negotiations dragged on, and in October the Government proposed a formula based upon output targets. This was accepted by miners' leaders, but when put to the ballot it was overwhelmingly rejected by 635,098 votes to 181,428, and a national strike commenced on October 16th. After protracted negotiations, and an unwanted intervention in the form of a strike threat from the rail unions, which was hastily withdrawn, the Government and miners' leaders finally reached agreement on 28th October. The 2s per shift claim was conceded, but with two provisos: 1. It could be withdrawn if increased output did not result. 2. Both the Miners' Federation and the Mines Association (the coal owners' representative body) should co-operate on drawing up a scheme "for the regulation of wages within the industry, which should be presented to the Government not later than March 31st 1921." Although this proposal was rejected in a ballot by 346,504 votes to 338,045, the strike was called off because less than two-thirds of members had voted for continuance.

In subsequent negotiations the coal owners made clear their determination to reduce wages. No agreement was reached, and on 1st April 1921 control of the mines passed out of the hands of the Government. The miners immediately withdrew their labour, declaring themselves locked-out, on the grounds that their former terms and conditions were no longer being honoured. The Government and coal owners declared the action a strike, and this is how it was generally referred to in the press. The dispute became a bitter struggle right from the start; for the first time in a coal strike the pump-men, essential to the safety of the mines, were also withdrawn. To ensure that this work could be carried out by volunteers, troops were stationed at some collieries, which rapidly raised the temperature of the dispute. With the coal owners refusing to meet union representatives unless safety work resumed, the leaders of the Rail and Transport Unions became involved, and a "Triple Alliance" strike was announced, to commence at midnight on April 15th. At the last minute this was called off due to movement on both sides in the dispute. Living conditions in the mining communities, already difficult, now became nearly impossible, and distress relief funds were set up in all areas. Negotiations, and the dispute, continued through May and June, until an agreement was finally reached on 29th June. Although this provided for a phased cut in pay of 3s per shift, it was accepted by the strike-weary miners in a ballot by 832,840 votes to 105,020.

Women's football and fundraising

Women's football teams, which had been so successful in fund raising during the Great War, turned to fund raising on behalf of their own communities. This activity did not commence immediately, but appears to have started after the end of the normal football season. The earliest reports of matches from Durham and Northumberland date from 4th May and 12th May respectively. As mentioned above, the matches were strictly local affairs - money was not to be wasted on travelling expenses! I have therefore dealt with Durham and Northumberland separately. The pattern was similar in other mining communities; for example in the South Yorkshire coalfield.

County Durham

The earliest games to be reported in County Durham involved inter-village rivalry. On Wednesday 4th May 1921, the ladies of Tanfield and Dipton met at Bute Park, Dipton, to decide who would be top dogs. The match was an inconclusive draw, necessitating a further encounter on Friday 6th, when Tanfield put the issue beyond doubt. Unfortunately the Consett Guardian reporter omitted to note the scores in his account of the clash.

The next day, Saturday 7th May, a ladies' football tournament was organised at Sherburn, in which four teams played for a prize of 11lbs of tea. The teams were:- Durham Street Ladies (captain Mrs Carter), Lambton Street Ladies (captain Mrs Lyons), Soup Canteen Ladies (captain Mrs Blacklock), and the Busty Ladies (captain Mrs Cairns). Lest there be any doubt, the latter team was named after a local coal seam, rather than the physical attributes of the players. The first round was contested between Durham Street and Lambton Street. A first-half shot by Lila Smith opened the scoring for Durham Street. In the second half Lambton Street's goalkeeper, Mrs Lyons, was kept busy. She saved a penalty by stopping the ball with her nose, and shortly afterwards stopped another certain goal from Lila Smith by diving on the ball and the player. Lambton Street eventually equalised from a penalty, but in the last minutes Durham Street scrambled the ball home to win 2-1. In the second game the Busty Ladies had a distinct advantage, as four member of their team were married to Sherburn Hill United players. Minnie Dixon scored within two minutes of the start, and then added a second after the interval. The Canteen Ladies were on the defensive for most of the game, but did get close enough to the opposition goal to win a penalty for hands. Maggie Shepherd took the kick, which was saved in magnificent fashion by Mrs Horrocks, who had evidently taken lessons from her son, the Sherburn Hill United goalkeeper. Eventually the Canteen scored, but with Minnie Dixon completing her hat-trick it was a convincing win for the Busty Ladies. Only the two games were played, the report giving no indication as to how the prize was divided.One interesting fact to note from this game is that so many of the players were married women, and, in the case of Mrs Horrocks, old enough to have a grown-up son. The event was attended by a large crowd and a "substantial collection" was taken.

On the same day the ladies of Burnhope played the local Boy Scouts, who followed the war-time tradition and played with their hands tied behind their backs. The result was a win for the ladies by 5 goals to 3.Scotswood v Newburn clipping

The following Tuesday two women's teams from Scotswood and Newburn met at Towneley Park, Blaydon in aid of the local relief fund. Although both teams were, strictly speaking, from Northumberland, both towns are within walking distance of the Durham border. The score was not recorded, but the game inspired the formation of a women's team in Blaydon itself. Their first game, against Scotswood Ladies on 23rd May 1921, raised £15 15s 3d in donations. It was an interesting encounter; Blaydon lost 5-0, despite their keeper saving four penalties! Mrs Patterson of High Blaydon had offered the prize of a brooch to the scorer of the first goal, and this was won by Miss Barclay, who scored two more to make a hat-trick. The performance of the Blaydon goalkeeper, Miss Noble, earned her a special prize of a Duchesse set.

The formation of this team resulted in a particularly virulent attack being published in the Blaydon Courier on 11th June 1921, in the form of a supposed open letter to a lady footballer from her elder sister. Readers may form their own conclusions as to how convincing this is. Nora, whoever she (or he) may have been, was evidently concerned to get this spiteful piece of vituperation across to as wide an audience as possible, as an identical letter was published in the Consett Guardian on 17th June.

Dear Sister,

You ask what I think about you having joined the Ladies Football Club. Not much, and yet a lot. That may sound paradoxical, but allow me to explain. I blush with shame when I picture you, gentle Jennie, my youngest sister, in the habiliments of a football player. You cannot be the shy, blushing sister I remember of ten years ago, when you would have coloured at finding a hole in your stocking. You must have put on the brass since then, and if it really be true that you have developed into a "lady" footballer, then there must be sufficient brass in your face by this time to make a fender. You were never a smart figure - I always got lost in your corsets - and you must certainly be a true example of the ludicrous when clad in your football togs. Think, gentle Jennie, what it would mean if a stitch or two gave way when you bumped the ground? Another reputation would be gone.

What fit of mental aberration has prompted you to become a "lady" footballer? Is there something in the game that appeals to the feminine instinct, or are you out for exercise? Surely, you cannot be seeking exercise - although I admit you would be better without some of your surplus fat - because whenever Mother asked you to dry the dishes you always had some excuse. Then whatever is there in this leather chasing that induces you to don men's garments and parade yourself before hundreds of watery eyes and gaping mouths?

You mention something about the sacred cause of charity. Is charity the only thing that is sacred? Is there not a beautiful flower called modesty? Have you no respect for your sex? Dear, gentle Jennie, are you not aware that every time you enter the dressing room and discard your feminine attire for a pair of men's football knickers and a sweater you not only disgrace yourself, but lower your sex in the eyes of everyone with a sense of decency. Oh, my poor misguided sister, you have degenerated. And what an ass you must make of yourself when kicking and chasing a football, you panting and perspiring little fool.

What is this you say in your letter, ".... and we all chew spearmint." Try baccy the next time, it is more appropriate. Oh you horrid wretch. It's enough to make our dear dead grandmother of sacred memory turn in her grave. But you are still my sister Jennie, and I forgive you your little fling "in the sacred name of charity." Try knitting jumpers.

Believe me,
Your affectionate sister

Despite such attacks, the women continued playing to raise money in support of their families. Blaydon Ladies' next match, at Swalwell on 30th May, was reportedly broken up due to a dispute, prompting the Blaydon Courier to comment, "we are of the opinion that the sport ought to be left to its male exponents." In fact, the game had been stopped owing to heavy rain, and a correction was published the following week. Female football had by now attracted a number of devotees in Blaydon; teams representing Blaydon East and Blaydon West also met on 30th May, at Greenside, raising £4 11s 6d for the local distress fund.

Blaydon Ladies FC in 1921

Blaydon Ladies FC

The man at the back is Dick Pearson of Burnley Street, Blaydon, who managed the side
(photograph courtesy of Dilly Armstrong and Mike Ingoe)

Their activities were mirrored elsewhere in the region; on June 2nd, Sunderland Ladies defeated Ryhope ex-Munition Workers 3-1 at Nelson's field, Ryhope, raising £10 5s 4d for the Ryhope Distress Fund. On the same night Silksworth Ladies drew 2-2 with Monkwearmouth Ladies at the Silksworth FC ground, raising £12 0s 9d for the Children's Meals Fund. Silksworth's next outing, against Ryhope at the Silksworth Colliery ground on 6th June, was reported to have attracted 10,000 spectators. However, only £16 11s 6d was taken for the local relief funds, and it seems evident that the attendance was either much lower, or most spectators did not pay.

Silksworth's schedule at this time was a busy one; on 11th June they entertained Washington Ladies in a match for the benefit of the Children's Meals Fund. Silksworth won 2-1, and the fund benefited by £7 14s 9d. Two days later their visitors were Bank Head Ladies, who also went down 2-1, but had a larger collection - £10 16s 0d to share. A further meeting with Ryhope took place two days later. On this occasion Silksworth won by 2 goals to nil, and the sum of £14 2s 6d was raised for the usual charities.

An attempt was made to recapture the spirit of the Munitionettes' Cup; on 8th June the Sunderland Echo announced that a Ladies Challenge Cup had been put up for a knock-out competition for ladies' football teams in County Durham. The donor was a Sunderland man, Frank Bloom. A set of gold brooches would be presented to the winning team. Entries, costing 7s 6d, had to be submitted to Mr R. Duke of 8, Finsbury Street, Monkwearmouth by 13th June. Coverage of women's games in the press was so inconsistent that it is impossible to know exactly how many entries were received, but the evidence suggests that there were not many.

The first round of what had become known as the Wearmouth District Ladies' Challenge Cup kicked off on June 23rd, when Silksworth defeated Felling Ladies by 6 goals to nil. The collection amounted to £15 11s 8d, but this was later corrected to £15 0s 3d. A further round 1 tie took place at Southwick on June 25th, when Wearmouth Ladies met Wardley Ladies. This match featured an extra attraction; Hetty King, the well-known male impersonator, had agreed to kick-off. The report of the match, which Wearmouth won 3-2, made no mention as to whether she kept her appointment, but the size of the takings, £24 16s 2d, suggests that a sufficient number of people thought she might.

Wearmouth had to travel to Silksworth for the second round, where they were defeated 3-1 on 28th June. News of the competition then dried up as the press switched to commenting on the end of the coal dispute. On 16th July the Sunderland Echo reported that Silksworth Ladies had beaten Washington Ladies 2-1 in a semi-final played at Silksworth. The cup final was not reported, and a final match may not even have taken place, as only the Silksworth team attended the Cup presentation ceremony on 27th August, when medals were presented to eleven team members, seven reserves and two female trainers. The team, S. Wofendale, Jennie Straughan, Beattie Shillito, L. Kirton, Jennie Foster, Agnes Shillaw, Esther James, Florrie Arkley, Jennie Brown, Maud Cartledge and Eve Shillito raised £72 for local Distress Funds during the course of their brief existence.

With the coal dispute over, and the regular football season approaching, the interest in women's football disappeared, and once more the ladies hung up their boots until they would be needed again.


From Radcliffe in the north to Backworth in the south, women's football teams sprang up in Northumberland mining villages, with the greatest concentration being in the Blyth and Wansbeck valleys. The earliest reported game took place at Stakeford on Thursday 12th May, when the village's married women took on the single women in aid of the local Relief Fund. The game was kicked off by Mrs Clough, the wife of the Colliery manager, and resulted in a 1-0 win for the single women, and £9 16s. 10d for the fund. Whit Monday, 16th May, saw an interesting game played out at Ashington, when the ladies of Chestnut Street took on their near neighbours from Hawthorn Grove. Chestnut Street were the stronger team, winning by 2-0, and the Ashington District Relief Fund benefited to the tune of £20. On Thursday 19th May teams from Newsham and New Delaval met at the New Delaval ground. Newsham won 2-0 with goals from Mrs Dixon and Mrs Weedy. The proceeds of the match were handed over to the Newsham and New Delaval soup kitchens. It is interesting to note that, just as in County Durham, married women were playing a major part in these games, as exemplified by the Newsham team:- Mesdames Crawford, Grey, Atkinson, Reid, Weedy, Gribble, Lazenby, McCall, Dixon, Downie and Miss McGurk.

Monday 23rd May saw a team from Netherton Colliery take to the field for the first time. Their visitors were from another small colliery village - Barrington. The Barrington team came with a good reputation, and were clearly more skilful than their inexperienced opponents, but a spirited display by the Netherton goalkeeper kept the score to a respectable 2-1 in favour of Barrington. The Netherton Ladies were keen to secure more fixtures and potential opponents were asked to contact the secretary Mrs Besford, at Clifton Row, Netherton Colliery.

Bebside v Cowpen clippingTwo days later a female footballing legend showed that she had lost none of her former abilities. Bella Reay, the free-scoring centre-forward for Blyth Spartans during the Great War, turned out for Cowpen in a match against Bebside. The home team played in skirts, which may have disadvantaged them against their more conventionally dressed opponents. A huge crowd was in attendance to see Bella, by now Mrs William Henstock, and the mother of a young daughter, score all four goals in Cowpen's 4-0 victory.

Newsham and New Delaval met again on 26th May, this time at Newsham. Newsham were the winners, though the score was not given. The match raised another £20 for the local distress funds, which suggests an attendance in excess of 1000.

Ashington district also staged a number of games; according to the Blyth News, "the most noticeable aspect of the stoppage in the Ashington district has been the innovation of football among young women. The innovation appears to have caught on at other local places, and sports nowadays are not complete without a ladies football match, despite the 'close season' regulation which the ladies have completely tabooed." On 26th May the ladies of Woodhorn Road and Ninth Row played for the benefit of the Buffalo soup kitchen, raising £8 16s 6d. The score was not reported.

Blyth v Backworth clippingFurther south, the women of Backworth were also involved in fund raising. Their first effort, in early May, was a cricket match at the Backworth Percy Cricket Club, in which the married ladies played the single ladies, but they showed their skills at football too, beating a team from East Holywell 5-0 on 31st May.

Barrington and Netherton met once more on 4th June, at Barrington. Netherton had made a number of changes to their team, but Barrington were once more the stronger side, and Phillis Edgar, the Netherton centre-forward, spent most of the game on her own as the Netherton defence was repeatedly tested. Eventually Barrington scored, through centre-forward Lillian Ritchie. This roused the Netherton women to action, but during an offensive, ably led by Phillis Edgar, she collided with a defender and fell on her head. She was helped from the field and took no further part in the game. After the interval Netherton reorganised their team, putting centre-half Tait at centre-forward, but this was a tactical error as her defensive abilities were badly missed, allowing Barrington to put on another three goals.

For their next outing on June 14th, the women of Newsham and New Delaval combined forces. Their opponents were a visiting team from Bates Cottages, a small settlement near Holywell. No record of the score has been been found.

Barrington's next home had the flavour of a local Derby, as the visitors were the ladies of Sleekburn Social Club. Over 2,000 spectators gathered at the Barrington Institute ground on Saturday 11th June to see the match which was refereed by Jim Rutherford, the Ashington-born full-back with Brighton and Hove Albion. Sleekburn kicked off into the wind, and for the first half they had the better of the play, their centre-forward Florrie Mason creating a number of chances which were cleared by the Barrington back line of Graham and Saunders. In the second half Barrington pressed strongly, and centre-forward Lillian Ritchie scored what was described as a beautiful goal. Moments afterwards she sent in a drive which the Sleekburn keeper failed to hold, the ball falling at the feet of Barrington's inside-left Mary Kilgour, who put it beyond the keeper's reach to make the final score Barrington 2, Sleekburn 0. This was Barrington's ninth match, and their ninth successive win, during the course of which they had scored 32 goals, conceding only 6. The performance of the team was remarkable considering their age; as can be seen in the picture below many of them were schoolgirls, and top scorer Lillian Ritchie was only 13. The team's secretary was Joseph Ritchie (jun.) of 12, Freehold Row, Barrington Colliery - presumably the father of Lillian.

Barrington Ladies FC in 1921

Barrington Ladies FC

(footballers only) back row: Ida Moody, Annie Graham, Edie Scott, Gladys Saunders, Jane Reed, Jennie Gutteridge
centre row: Mary Reed, Ena Taylor, Lillian Ritchie, Mary Kilgour, Ella May Tait
(photograph courtesy of Evan Martin)

West Sleekburn and Choppington were next to experience the Barrington steamroller treatment, going down 8-0 and 3-0 respectively during the course of the following week. Lillian Ritchie scored 5 against West Sleekburn and all 3 goals in the Choppington match to establish herself as a latter-day Bella Reay.

Bella herself, now Mrs Bella Henstock and the mother of a young daughter, had been tempted out of retirement to help the fund-raising efforts, and had played for a number of teams, including Cowpen, Cambois, and a team known simply as Blyth. She could still score goals; in a match between Cowpen and Bebside on 25th May she got all four in Cowpen's 4-0 win.

It was inevitable that a comparison would be made between the 13-year-old lass from Barrington and Blyth's wartime heroine, and equally inevitable that efforts would be made to arrange a show-down. The famous Blyth Spartans ladies had disbanded in 1918, but a reformed team, including many of their former stars, was put together to deal with the upstarts from Barrington. The match took place on Wednesday 29th June, attracting 5,000 spectators to the Barrington Institute ground. In addition to Bella Reay, the Spartans team had five other members of their wartime team:- Agnes Sample, Lizzie James, Ada Reed, Jennie Morgan and S. Rhodes. Bella Reay kicked off, and for the first half Spartans were the better side, serving up some of the best football witnessed at Barrington. It was not all one-way traffic however, and Ritchie brought a fine save from the Blyth goalkeeper. For a short period at the beginning of the second half Barrington had the upper hand, but Blyth once more established their superiority, and had it not been for a text book display of goalkeeping from the 12 year old Miss Scott in the Barrington goal their unbeaten record would have been brought to an end. The game was nearly marred by an incident close to time; Blyth took a corner which went straight out of play, but a spectator tapped it back onto the field and Blyth forced the ball into the net. Fortunately for Barrington the referee had a clear view of the incident and the goal was disallowed. When the final whistle blew the score remained 0-0, as is so often the case in encounters of such high drama.

A rematch was arranged for Wednesday 6th July. It was to take place at the Blyth Shipyard ground in aid of the Central Distress Fund, and the Blyth News announced that the following team would represent Spartans:

L. James, S. Rhodes, M. Long, A. Sample, M. Douglas, A. Snowdon, A. Reed, M. Reay, B. Reay (capt.), M. Scuffham, J. Morgan.

However, according to the Blyth News, Barrington's match against Bedlington brought their total played to 15, and when they played their final match in August the total had reached 23. All the games in between are accounted for, and it seems therefore that the rematch with Spartans did not actually take place

Lillian Ritchie and Bella Reay did face each other again, when Bella turned out for Cambois on 13th July. This was an attempt to strengthen their side, after they had suffered a 6-1 hammering at Barrington in the previous week. The result was again a defeat for Cambois, but by the lower margin of 3-1, the goals being scored by Ritchie (3) and Reay.

Although the miners had now returned to work, the relief effort continued, and throughout the course of July the Barrington team continued to mark up victories against all and sundry. Newsham were dispatched 3-1 and 2-0 in home and away games, and Stakeford suffered a similar fate, going down 2-0 and 5-0. Hirst Ladies put up more resistance, limiting Barrington to a 1-0 win on their home ground on 3rd August. The Morpeth Herald reported that "both sides played strenuous football, which was the fastest first half ever seen at Barrington." The full-backs for both sides were playing well, but the Hirst forward line looked more effective, and towards half-time many Barrington supporters were becoming resigned to witnessing the side's first defeat. Things got a little rough after the interval; Miss Dunn of Hirst received a kick in the face, from which she soon recovered, and the referee then had to caution some of the lady spectators for their behaviour. Barrington were the fitter side overall, and as Hirst began to fade Lillian Ritchie nipped through to score the only goal of the game.

The return game was played at Hirst on the following Saturday, and was a completely different affair, as Barrington cruised to a 4-1 win with goals from Ritchie (2), Reid and Guthridge (pen), despite having to play with only four forwards for most of the second half, inside-left Kilgour having left the field through injury. Tilly Heslop got a consolation penalty goal for Hirst. This marked Barrington's last game; on 12th August the Morpeth Herald summarised their full record:- played 23, won 22, drawn 1, goals for 77, goals against 10. The table below lists 19 of these games, which were reported in the newspapers. According to Stephen Martin 2 the girls also defeated Red Row (H 3-1, A 2-0), Sleekburn (A 6-1) and Bedlington (H 2-0).

The regular team line up was as follows: Edie Scott, Annie Graham, Gladys Saunders, Ida Moody, Jenny Gutteridge, Jane Reid, Mary Reid, Ena Taylor, Lillian Ritchie, Mary Kilgour, Ella May Tait. The following girls made up the full squad: Ogle, Watson, Jordan, Anderton, Johnstone and Walton. Lillian Ritchie was the leading goal scorer with 45, followed by Mary Kilgour 17, Ena Taylor 5, Mary Reid 2, Jenny Gutteridge 2, Jane Reid 1, Edie Scott 1, o.g. 4.

No further match reports appeared in the press. The regular football season was fast approaching, things were slowly getting back to normal in the pit villages, and it appears that for the moment, the novelty of the women's games had worn off.

1926 General Strike

Five years later the north east mining communities were to be affected by another industrial crisis - the General Strike. This action commenced on 3rd May 1926 and ceased on 12th May, but the miners stayed out until November. Once more soup kitchens made their appearance, but this time women's football does not appear to have played an important part in the relief efforts. In Northumberland, the Morpeth Herald carried reports of only two games - Radcliffe versus Broomhill on 21st June, which Radcliffe won 2-0, and Bebside versus Annitsford on 22nd October. Bebside won 2-1, one of their goals being scored by the wartime heroine Bella Reay, still refusing to hang up her boots.

The pattern was the same in County Durham, with only a few games being reported in the press. The Dundee Evening Telegraph reported on 27th August that teams of women footballers had been formed in Murton, Ryhope, Shotton and Thornley, and matches would be played in aid of miners' children. Matches between Shotton and Thornley appear to be the only ones reported, for example a goalless draw played between them at St Paul's AFC ground, Deaf Hill, Trimdon Station, raised £3 17s for the Deaf Hill Miners' Children's Boot Fund. In the north of the county the "Marley Hill Spankers" seem to have presented the most formidable opposition, with wins of 8-2 over the ladies of Lintz Colliery and 5-2 over Causey Row. Only brief details of these encounters were reported.

Marley Hill Spankers in 1926

Marley Hill Spankers - 1926

Similar women's football matches took place in other parts of the country; for example at Annesley and Bulwell in Nottinghamshire, and Wombwell in South Yorkshire. Tragically, a woman footballer, Miss C V Richards, was reported to have died as a result of breaking her leg in a match at Blaencymmer, Glamorganshire on 2nd November, and this led to the cancellation of all women's football matches in the County. It is not clear however whether this was a "Soup Kitchen" match, as Miss Richards was described as "one of the organisers of the newly-formed Glamorgan Women's Football League."

© Patrick Brennan 2006, 2018


In 1933 Lillian Ritchie married Albert Graham, under-manager at Bomarsund Colliery. Throughout her life she worked for the local community, becoming a Local Councillor, School Governor, Alderman and J.P. After the death of her husband in the 1970's she lived alone at Bedlington, before joining her daughter Ann in the Midlands. She died in 2002 at the age of 94. The people I have spoken to who knew her have nothing but good memories of a talented and kindly woman.


1. The Blyth News, Morpeth Herald, Daily Chronicle, Newcastle Journal, Sporting Man, Northern Echo, Blaydon Courier, Consett Guardian, Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette - available at the Central Libraries of Blyth, Morpeth, Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland and South Shields

2. "Barrington Colliery Village (Bar'n'ton)" by Stephen B. Martin, published by Evan S. B. Martin, 1979, ISBN S1026.

Summary of matches played

1921-05-04Dipton Ladies v
Tanfield Ladies
Played at Bute Park, Dipton; match drawn
1921-05-06Dipton Ladies v
Tanfield Ladies
Played at Bute Park, Dipton; Tanfield won
1921-05-07Burnhope Ladies 5
Burnhope Boy Scouts 3
Played at Burnhope; the boys played with their hand tied behind their backs.
Scorers: Fish (3), Mrs Rushton, Wall for the ladies; J Hobbs (3) for the Scouts
1921-05-07Durham Street 2
Lambton Street 1
Played at Sherburn
1921-05-07Busty Ladies 3
Soup Canteen Ladies 1
Played at Sherburn
Scorer for Busty Ladies: Minnie Dixon (3)
1921-05-10Scotswood Ladies v
Newburn Ladies
Played at Towneley Park, Blaydon in aid of the Distress Relief Fund
1921-05-12Stakeford Single Ladies 1
Stakeford Married Ladies 0
Played at Stakeford raising £9 16s. 10d. for the local Relief Fund
1921-05-16Chestnut Street 2
Hawthorn Grove 0
Inter-street match played at Ashington, raising £20 for the local Relief Fund
1921-05-19New Delaval ladies 0
Newsham Ladies 2
Played at the New Delaval Villa ground in aid of the Newsham and New Delaval soup kitchens.
Scorers: Mrs Dixon, Mrs Weedy
1921-05-23Netherton Girls 1
Barrington Girls 2
Played at Netherton in aid of the local Distress Fund (Netherton's first match)
1921-05-23Blaydon Ladies 0
Scotswood Ladies 5
Played at Towneley Park, Blaydon, raising £15 15s 3d in aid of the Blaydon and Scotswood Distress Funds
Scorers: Barclay (3), Gibson (2)
Blaydon: Noble, Foster, Trewick, Chapman, Greenwell, Anderson, Rogan, Clark, Patterson, Young, Purvis
Scotswood: Townley, Thompson, Fenwick, Thirlwell, Farrell, Varah, Barclay, Henderson, Barclay, Gibson, Hammond
1921-05-25Bebside 0
Cowpen 4
Played at Bebside
Scorer: Bella Reay (4)
1921-05-26Newsham v
New Delaval
Played at Newsham, raising £20 for the Blyth Distress Fund (Newsham won, but the score was not reported)
Newsham: Mesdames Crawford, Grey, Atkinson, Reid, Weedy, Gribble, Lazenby, McCall, Dixon, Downie, Miss McGurk
1921-05-26Woodhorn Road v
Ninth Row
Played at Ashington, raising £8 16s 2d for the Buffalo soup kitchen
1921-05-30Swalwell v
Blaydon Haughs
Played at Swalwell, reported as having been broken up due to a dispute, but later claimed to have been abandoned due to rain
1921-05-30Blaydon West Ladies v
Blaydon East Ladies
Played at Greenside raising £4 11s 1d in aid of the local Distress Fund; the result was not reported
1921-05-31East Holywell 0
Backworth 5
Played at East Holywell in aid of the local relief fund
1921-06-02Choppington 1
Barrington 3
(exact date not known)
1921-06-02Sunderland Ladies 3
Ryhope Ladies 1
Played at Nelson's field, Ryhope, raising £10 5s 4d for the Ryhope Distress Fund
1921-06-02Silksworth Ladies 2
Monkwearmouth Ladies 2
Played at Silksworth FC ground, raising £12 0s 9d for the Children's Meals Fund
1921-06-04Barrington Ladies 4
Netherton Ladies 0
Played at Barrington in aid of the Barrington and Netherton Distress Funds
1921-06-04Barrington Schoolgirls 3
Pegswood Schoolgirls 0
Played at Barrington raising £4 for the local soup kitchen
1921-06-06Netherton 1
Choppington 1
Played at Netherton
Scorer for Netherton: Phillis Edgar
1921-06-06Silksworth Ladies 6
Ryhope Ladies 0
Played at Silksworth Colliery, raising £16 11s 6d for the Silksworth and Ryhope Relief Funds
1921-06-08Newsham & New Delaval v
Played at New Delaval in aid of the local soup kitchens
Newsham & New Delaval: Crawford, Derbyshire, Haggerty, Stephenson, Brewer, Betts, Fellows, Bolam, Weedy, Cotton, Fawcus; reserves: Grey, Mordue, Howes, Brown
Stakeford: Jackson, Lawson, McKay, Kirtley, McKay, Redpath, Halligan, Cape, Green, Cape, Jackson
1921-06-11Silksworth Ladies 2
Washington 1
Played at Silksworth, raising £7 14s 9d for the Children's Meals Fund
1921-06-11Barrington 2
Sleekburn Social Club 0
Played at Barrington before 2,000 spectators
Scorers: Lillian Ritchie, Miss Kilgour
Barrington's record to date: P9 W9 F32 A6
1921-06-13Silksworth Ladies 2
Bankhead Ladies 1
Played at Silksworth, raising £10 16s 0d
1921-06-14Newsham & New Delaval v
Bates Cottages
Played at New Delaval in aid of the Newsham and New Delaval Relief Fund
Newsham & New Delaval: Crawford, Derbyshire, Weedy, Mordue, Brewer, Howes, Fellows, Bolam, Cotton, Hawkes, Fawcus or Yellowley reserves: Moore, Haggerty
1921-06-15Silksworth Ladies 2
Ryhope Ladies 0
Raised £14 2s 6d for the joint benefit of the Silksworth and Ryhope Distress Funds
1921-06-15West Sleekburn 0
Barrington 8
Played at West Sleekburn
Scorers: Ritchie (5), Kilgour (2), Taylor
1921-06-18Barrington 3
Choppington 0
Played at Barrington
Scorer: Ritchie (3)
1921-06-23Silksworth Ladies 6
Felling Ladies 0
Wearmouth and District Ladies Challenge Cup R1; raised £15 0s 3d
1921-06-25Barrington 5
West Sleekburn 0
Played at Barrington
Scorers: Reid, Taylor, Ritchie (2), Norris (og)
1921-06-25Blyth 2
Backworth 2
Played at Blyth in aid of the local Distress Fund
1921-06-25Wearmouth Ladies 3
Wardley Ladies 2
Wearmouth Ladies Challenge Cup R1 played at Southwick; raised £24 16s 2d
1921-06-28Silksworth Ladies 3
Wearmouth Ladies 1
Wearmouth and District Ladies Challenge Cup R2 played at Silksworth
1921-06-29Barrington 0
Blyth Spartans 0
Played at Barrington before 5,000 spectators
1921-07-02Bedlington Town Ladies 0
Barrington Ladies 1
Played at Bedlington
Scorer: Ritchie
Barrington's record to date: P15 W14 D1 F51 A6
1921-07-02Choppington 1
Radcliffe 0
Played at Choppington
1921-07-04Blaydon Haughs 3
Walbottle 3
Played at Blaydon Haughs
1921-07-06Blyth Spartans v
Scheduled to be played at the shipyard ground, Blyth, in aid of the Central Distress Fund, but result was not reported and the match is unlikely to have been played.
Spartans: L. James, S. Rhodes, M. Long, A. Sample, M. Douglas, A. Snowdon, A. Reed, M. Reay, B. Reay (capt.), M. Scuffham, J. Morgan
1921-07-09Barrington 6
Cambois 1
Played at Barrington
Scorers: Ritchie (2), Kilgour (2), Guthridge, Wade (og) for Barrington; Moody (og) for Cambois
1921-07-13Cambois 1
Barrington 3
Played at Cambois
Scorers: Lillian Ritchie (3) for Barrington; Bella Reay for Cambois
1921-07-16Silksworth Ladies 2
Washington Ladies 1
Wearmouth and District Ladies Challenge Cup semi final played at Silksworth, raising £9 17s 2d
1921-07-16Newsham 1
Barrington 3
Played at Newsham
Scorer for Barrington: Ritchie (3)
1921-07-20Stakeford 0
Barrington 2
Played at Stakeford
Scorers: Ritchie, Kilgour
1921-07-23Barrington 5
Stakeford 0
Played at Barrington
1921-07-26Barrington 2
Newsham 0
Played at Barrington
Scorers: Kilgour, Brewer (og)
1921-07-30Sleekburn Social Club 6
Stakeford 1
Played at Bedlington Station
Scorers: Mason (4)
1921-08-01Sleekburn Social Club 5
Blyth Ladies 4
Played at Bedlington Station; Bella Reay captained the Blyth side
1921-08-03Barrington 1
Hirst Select 0
Played at Barrington
Scorer: Ritchie
1921-08-06Hirst Select 1
Barrington 4
Played at Hirst
Scorers: Reid, Guthridge (pen), Ritchie (2) for Barrington; Tilly Heslop (pen) for Hirst
1926-06-21Radcliffe 2
Broomhill 0
Played at Radcliffe
scorer for Radcliffe: Potts (2)
1926-08-13Lintz 2
Marley Hill 8
Played at Lintz
1926-08-20Marley Hill v
Played at Byermoor (score not reported)
1926-08-31Marley Hill 5
Causey 2
Played at Causey Row, raising £1 7s 6d for the Causey Distress Fund
1926-09-03Dipton Swifts 5
Dipton Black Mask 1
Played at Bute Park, Dipton, in aid of the Dipton Children's Boot Fund.
Black Mask: Mary Wheatley, Mrs Brodie, Ruth Sanderson, Annie Stewart, Sarah Reed, Maggie Oxley, D. Surtees, B. Surtees, M. Kell, A. Crawford, Mrs Banks
Dipton Swifts: Nancy Brunton, Mary Snowden, Grace Newton, Bessie Cook, Betty Rumney, Gertie Stoddart, Sarah Curtis, Maggie MacKay, Florrie, Jane Brodie, Lizzie Smith
1926-09-13Dipton v
Marley Hill
Played at Bute Park, Dipton, raising £5 8s 1/2d for the Dipton and District Boot Fund.
(Marley Hill won - score not reported)
1926-10-06Thornley v Shotton
Played at Burdon Park, Wingate, raising £7 for the Wingate Children's Boot Fund
1926-10-13Thornley 0
Shotton 0
Played at St Paul's AFC ground, Deaf Hill, Trimdon Station, raising £3 17s for the Deaf Hill Miners' Boot Fund
1926-10-22Bebside 2
Annitsford 0
Played at Bebside in aid of the local Boot Fund
scorers: Bella Reay, Miss Metcalf

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