OU on the BBC: Nation On Film - Women's Football

Updated Tuesday 24th October 2006

'Women's Football' tells the story of how the rise and fall of women’s football was captured on film, part of the BBC/OU's series Nation on Film.

Nation on Film rhs 4 Copyrighted image Icon Copyrighted image Copyright: Production team

Using professional and amateur archive it reveals how a group of World War One munitions workers became international celebrities.

The women worked at the Dick, Kerr & Company factory in Preston, Lancashire and started playing games in order to raise money for injured soldiers. A number of servicemen returned from duty and found life (in the days before the modern welfare state) extremely hard.

The games were well supported and substantial sums of money were raised. However, the women were also highly regarded for their skills as footballers; Dick, Kerr’s Ladies were unofficially crowned the England women's football team and a number of games were captured on professional newsreels.

The programme examines some of the problems newsreel cameramen encountered in the early 20th century as they attempted to film football matches, and capture the all-important goals.

Some observers claim the success of the women’s game was too much for football’s male establishment. They say that the FA (Football Association) was concerned about competition damaging the men’s game. In 1921 the Football Association outlawed the women’s game, banning it from FA grounds – a ban that lasted for half a century. Amateur film-maker Ron Frankland captured images of the women playing after the ban (on non-FA grounds).

First broadcast: Friday 14 Jan 2005 on BBC FOUR

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