Artist: Hannah Stewart
Lilian Parr (26 April 1905 – 24 May 1978) was an English professional women’s association football player who played as a winger. She is best known for playing for the Dick Kerr’s Ladies team, which was founded in 1917 and based in Preston, Lancashire.
In 2002, she was the only woman to be made an inaugural inductee into the English Football Hall of Fame at the National Football Museum.
During the First World War in England there was a growing interest in women's football and Dick Kerr & co. was the name of the Preston munitions factory where most of the women on the team worked. The Dick Kerr's Ladies team regularly drew large crowds including a famous event on 26 December 1920 at Goodison Park that drew more than 53,000 spectators.
During her time working for Dick Kerr & Co she lodged in Preston with one of her teammates, Alice Norris. She had a romantic relationship with her teammate Alice Woods, who was also from St Helens. While playing for the Dick Kerr's Ladies she was noted for her large appetite and almost constant smoking of Woodbine cigarettes.
Unlike women's teams today, Parr played against both male and female teams and she reputedly had a harder shot than any male player. She had started life playing football with her brothers on waste ground in St Helens, before playing for the St Helen's Ladies team. There she was spotted and recruited into the Dick Kerr's Ladies and a job in the Dick Kerr & Co. factory in Preston, with 10 shillings in expenses per game.
When Parr first came to the team she was fourteen years old and she played at left-back. She was moved to the left-wing on New Years Day 1921 and scored a hat-trick against a "Rest of Lancashire" team. In her first year with the club she scored 108 goals, second only to Florrie Redford who scored 170. During her career with the Dick, Kerr Ladies she scored 986 goals. According to a BBC article she scored 43 goals for the team in her first season, when she was 14 years old. She totalled more than 900 goals in her career between 1919 and 1951.
The number of women's teams had continued to grow during this time until 1921 when the Football Association banned women from playing on their member grounds. Support for women's teams declined, but many women such as Parr continued to play on village greens and another non-associated land. The Dick Kerr Ladies toured North America in 1922 following the English ban. Banned again on their arrival in Canada, they toured the US and played nine games. They won three, drew three, and lost three against the top division men's teams. Parr continued with the Dick Kerr's Ladies even when they lost the support of their factory and were renamed the Preston Ladies.
After working in the Dick Kerr & Co. factory Parr trained as a nurse. She worked in Whittingham Mental Hospital until she retired. While working at the hospital she continued to play women's football for the Preston Ladies until 1951. This included taking part in a further tour of France.
Parr lived out most of the rest of her life in Goosnarg, near Preston. She lived with her partner Mary, and since her death has become a LGBT rights icon. She died of breast cancer in 1978, aged 73, and is buried in the town of her birth, St Helens, Merseyside.
The sculpture was created by Hannah Stewart who depicts Parr as iconic and pioneering, kicking with her powerful left foot which she was well-known for. Aside from being considered a pioneer of women's football.