Preston football pioneer and Dick, Kerr Ladies legend honoured with 'first ever' life-size statue of a female player

Share this article

A life-size statue of a trailblazing women's footballer and Dick, Kerr Ladies legend has been unveiled in Manchester.


As the England Lionesses prepare for this summer’s FIFA Women's World Cup, a Preston woman has today (June 3) become the UK’s first ever female footballer to be honoured with a statue at the National Football Museum in Manchester today (June 3).

Dick, Kerr Ladies football legend Lily Parr has been honoured with a life-size statue at the National Football Museum in Manchester today (Monday, June 3)

Dick, Kerr Ladies football legend Lily Parr has been honoured with a life-size statue at the National Football Museum in Manchester today (Monday, June 3)

Women's football pioneer Lily Parr, who died in Goosnargh aged 73 in 1978, came to prominence as part of Preston's legendary Dick, Kerr Ladies FC in the 1920s.

Born in 1905, a 13-year-old Lily Parr kicked-off her football career with St Helens Ladies in 1919, before moving to Preston and joining the war effort working at the Dick, Kerr munitions factory in 1920.

Within weeks of settling into her new lodgings in Preston, Lilly had earned her place on the famous Dick, Kerr Ladies football team.

Lily moved to the left wing in 1921 and netted an impressive 108 goals in her first year as a forward.

Dick, Kerr Ladies FC photographed prior to their first game on December 25, 1917. 'Photo courtesy of Gail Newsham

Dick, Kerr Ladies FC photographed prior to their first game on December 25, 1917. 'Photo courtesy of Gail Newsham

The peerless Lily Parr would go on to score over 986 goals for Dick, Kerr Ladies between 1920 and 1951.

The Dick, Kerr Ladies forward is the first female footballer in Britain to be honoured with a statue at the National Football Museum.

Unveiled by Lily’s cousin, June Patten, the striking statue will now take pride of place on the first floor of the National Football Museum.

READ MORE: Legendary woman footballer Lily Parr from Preston who played for the Dick, Kerr Ladies to be immortalised in bronze

A young football fan and his mum admire the life-size statue of Dick, Kerr Ladies legend Lily Parr at the National Football Museum in Manchester today (Monday, June 3)

A young football fan and his mum admire the life-size statue of Dick, Kerr Ladies legend Lily Parr at the National Football Museum in Manchester today (Monday, June 3)

Now immortalised in bronze, the Lancashire legend stands tall and proud in the company of other footballing trailblazers in the Players Zone on the Match Gallery floor.

The zone explores the footballing heroes who overcame nearly insurmountable challenges and prejudices to realise their dream of playing football.

The life-size statute has been created by sculptor Hannah Stewart and commissioned by Mars, official supporter of the England Women’s Team.

Gemma Buggins, Mars Brand director, said she hoped the statue will inspire the England Lionesses to achieve their dreams of lifting the World Cup next month.

"Lily Parr was the heroine of her time in the sporting world and it is such an honour to be able to recognise her", said Ms Buggins.

“This is why we are delighted to unveil the UK’s first ever female footballer statue of the amazing Lily Parr.

"At Mars, we’re passionate about recognising female role models and, as our current generation of Lionesses head off to this summer’s tournament, we thought that it was about time that we shone a spotlight on Lily as a trailblazer for today’s team.

“We hope this statue and our #SupportHer campaign inspires other women to follow their dreams as we get ready to enjoy an exciting summer of women’s football!”

Faye White, Lioness legend, added: “This is a momentous moment and Lily thoroughly deserves this honour. As a female footballer, it’s inspiring to see the progress we’re making in celebrating women in sport.

"Women’s football has come a long way since it first began and I’m looking forward to cheering on the England Lionesses this summer alongside the nation.”

The bronze statue, created by sculptor Hannah Stewart, has been commissioned by FA sponsors Mars as part of their #SupportHer campaign, and was officially revealed at the museum today (Monday, June 3).

The statue unveiling kicks off a month of dedicated Women’s World Cup programmes at the museum to coincide with this summer's FIFA Women's World Cup.

How Lily Parr became a football legend

A teenage Lily Parr first turned out for Preston's Dick, Kerr munitions factory team in 1919, earning her place in the team as a fleet-footed fullback.

But Parr's exceptional talent for finding the back of the net with her blistering speed and powerful left foot soon saw her pushed up front.

It didn't take long for Lily to adapt to her new position. In a glorious 32-year career, Lily would go on to score an astonishing 980 goals.

The prolific goalscorer was reputed to possess one of the most powerful shots in football, and had the ability to score wonder goals from extraordinary angles with her famously gifted left foot.

She was part of a Dick, Kerr side which drew thousands of spectators in Preston and across the country during, and after, the First World War.

Lily's steely determination to be the best footballer in the world saw her spend hour after hour perfecting her powerful shooting technique.

She even featured in the team's tours of France (1920) and the USA (1922), and played in front of a record Boxing Day crowd of 53,000 screaming fans at Goodison Park in Liverpool in 1920.

Over 90 minutes before a raucous Liverpool crowd, a swift-footed Lily helped Preston's Dick, Kerr Ladies secure a famous win over her former home-town team of St Helen’s Ladies.

Lily would go on to play for Preston Ladies, retiring at the age of 46. Such was her record and reputation, she became the first female player to be inducted into the National Football Museum Hall of Fame in 2002.

Top 10 facts about football legend Lily Parr

1. Lillian 'Lily' Parr was born in St. Helens in 1905 and died in Goosnargh, near Preston, on May 22, 1978 at the age of 73.

2. Lily began her career at St. Helens Ladies in 1919, before moving to Dick, Kerr Ladies FC in 1920, following a recommendation from teammate Alice Woods.

3. Parr began her career with Dick, Kerr Ladies aged just 14-years-old, as a full back, before moving to the left wing in 1921.

4. Lily scored 108 goals in her first year as a left winger, coming second only to centre forward Florrie Redford who scored 170.

5. Parr scored a record-breaking 986 goals during her career with the Dick, Kerr Ladies.

6. She was billed as possessing one of the most powerful shots in the history of the game, an outside-left of immense skill and power. Programme notes from the 1920s describe Parr as “big, fast and powerful, is tricky and can take corner kicks better than most men”.

7. Parr and the Dick, Kerr Ladies team toured in the USA in 1922 where they played against men’s teams.

8. During the USA tour, four members of the Dick, Kerr team; Lily Parr, Florrie Haslam, Jennie Harris and Molly Walker, ran a relay race with the American Women’s Olympic team. They led all the way and were first past the winning post, beating the Olympic athletes!

9. Alongside her illustrious football career, Parr trained as a nurse and worked in Whittingham Mental Hospital until she retired.

11. In 2002, Parr became the first woman to be inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame at the National Football Museum.