As the Victorian era was drawing to a close, women’s football made its first mark in Wigan Borough, which includes the town of Leigh. That was when, in 1895, the newly-established British Ladies’ FC played matches in both towns, watched by hundreds of spectators.
The next significant milestone for women’s football in the area came in 1921, when women’s football matches raised funds for miners ‘locked-out’ of work’ while unions sought a better deal with private coalmine owners. St. Helens played Preston Ladies at Leigh in one of these matches and in the same year ‘several thousand spectators’ witnessed Plank Lane face Platt Bridge Ladies.
Despite The FA ban – also in 1921 – the famous Dick, Kerr Ladies played Bolton Ladies in Leigh, in early 1922. Local doctors were invited to the match to decide whether they considered the game unsuitable or not!
These stories are collected and displayed, with additional content, as part of:
• The UEFA Women’s EURO exhibition at Leigh Town Hall, which runs from 8th July to 30th September. Among the exhibits, you’ll also find personal memorabilia from local football legend Janet Talbot, who played in the final of first European Competition for Women’s Football in 1984. Visit the Wigan Council website for more details.
That European competition was the forerunner of the UEFA Women’s EUROs. For the record, in a two-legged final, England agonisingly lost 4-3 on penalties to Sweden, after the two games finished one apiece on aggregate.
The archives (at Leigh Town Hall) also feature a specially commissioned documentary ‘Around the Match’ which tells the history of women’s football in England. To go alongside it, a new football kit has been created by local people to represent local women. This will be available to buy from the archives.
But there’s no more interactive way to discover the game’s local history than by playing in ‘A Place at the Table’, a table football tournament that’s happening in shopping centres, markets and libraries. QR codes on the tables will bring the last 100 years of women’s football in Wigan and Leigh to life, alongside a prize draw and the chance to win sporting memorabilia.
• Talking of interactive, the Turnpike Gallery is home to a project called ‘Creating Space: imagine, make, play’. Running until 10th September, it will feature six in-residence artists who will create artworks with visitors – drawing on inspiration of women’s football and its pioneering spirit.
To hear and see some of the women who feature in the history of women’s football in and around Wigan & Leigh, please click below:
Free Outdoor Exhibition
Leigh | Civic Square | WN7 1EB
A Place At The Table
Library venues Mon-Saturday 10-2pm
Leigh Town Hall Tue-Saturday 10-4pm
Leigh Leisure Centre 9-7pm
Leigh Indoor Market & Spinning gate 9-5pm
8 July – 31 July 2022
An opportunity for everyone to get involved, with publicly sited interactive table football games, that follow the journey of the women’s game in the borough. With locations across the borough, each table depicts local matches that have taken place across the last century, highlighting the place of women in football, with parallels of developing rights for women and wider society at that time. Players can enter a prize draw to win some unique sporting memorabilia.
Details of the project and how to get involved are available via www.thefirewithin.org.uk
The project is open to everyone to get involved; play the game with family and friends.
UEFA Women’s EURO Exhibition
Archives: Wigan & Leigh (Leigh Town Hall)
8 July-30 September
A new free temporary exhibition on display as part of the family-friendly exhibition at the Archives, showcasing the astonishing stories that make up the local history of the borough. Including loans from former England Women football players.
Around the Match Window Exhibition
Archives: Wigan & Leigh (Leigh Town Hall)
8 July - 30 September 2022
A new temporary window exhibition that offers fresh insight into the women of football in and ‘around the match' - the voices that make the game on and off the pitch. The exhibition forms part of the Around the Match project by We Are Willow – full details of the project available Around the Match // UEFA Women's Euro England 2022 - 11 Women of diverse ages and backgrounds
More information: www.wigan.gov.uk/archives