The Aintree Munitions Ladies football team as the name would suggest rose from the factory where they spent their days building weapons of war. The Aintree LNC National Filling Factory began production in July of 1915 filling and assembling 8 inch shells. As the men had already been drafted into the war effort women took up the role of this highly dangerous job.
Just like men had done before the war the women wanted to play sport with their work colleagues.
The first appearance of the Aintree Munitions team came in the November 1917 as the Liverpool Echo announced they would play a charity match in Seacombe on the Wirral. The game was to be played at Vernon Park on Birkenhead Road against the Wilson’s Mill men’s team.
Although his was their first public game they had already beaten eight other teams and only conceded one goal.
Little mention of the men’s team was made in the preview of the game other than they would play with in handcuffs. The women’s team however had individual player analysis telling reader which players to look out for.
The Echo singled out several players to watch. One such player was M Warner who was the terror of the team fearing nothing and could tackle as well as any according to reports. The centre forward (not named) is too a player to watch as she has scored at least once in all of their previous games.
Interest in the game was high with 2000 tickets sold in advance of the game which even matched the war time attendance of local team Tranmere Rovers.
Although there was a great deal of build up to the game little was written about the actual game itself and there are conflicting reports on the score. However the Football Echo did give a brief match report.
The ladies turned out that day in long red belted tunics over black knickers (shorts) and black stockings which the Echo reporter described as ‘…both appropriate and becoming.’
The men started the first half in a very attacking manner at first not feeling too handicapped by their hands being tied. However each attack was pushed back by the strong defence of the Aintree ladies team and several men got the ladies to undo their handcuffs.
By the end of the first half however the ladies were 2-0 down and their unbeaten run looked to becoming to an end.
The second half however the ladies were a different team as they knocked six past the men’s team. The scorers according to the Football Echo were B Fredrickson, R Higgins, M Warner, L Molyneaux and F M’Allister for the ladies. The final score according to this report was 6-5 to the ladies.
The cartoon above printed a weeks after the game however states the final score being 7-3 to the ladies and referred to the team as ‘Doughty Ladies.’ The cartoon came with a poem which read
‘I’ve seen the girls at hockey, seen them sing and dance
Seen them flirt at croquet, both in England and in France
But for fun and games and vigour, the thing that beats them all
Was the munitions girls from Aintree – Grand Nationals- at Football’
This game would become the first of many the Aintree Munitions Ladies team would play before the end of the war. These early games though paved the way for the post war explosion in the women’s game and one can only wonder whether any of these ladies knew the legacy they would leave.