Women’s football in general
The first women’s football match was played in 1895 when the North beat the South 7-1. Women’s football grew in popularity at the beginning of the 20th century, particularly during the First World War when it was seen as a way to boost morale and take people’s minds off the hardships of the conflict. Women’s matches were attended by tens of thousands of spectators.
The most celebrated team in Britain was Dick, Kerr’s Ladies, based at the Dick, Kerr & Co. munitions factory in Preston, Lancashire where most of the players worked. In 1920 more than 50,000 spectators watched the team’s Boxing Day fixture against St Helens Ladies. The team’s star player was Lilian “Lily” Parr (1905–78) who began playing at the age of 14 and scored over 900 goals in a career that spanned more than 30 years. 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.
Womens Football in Enfield
In 1921 a match took place in Enfield between women’s teams representing two local companies, Ediswan and Osram. It was not a good year for women’s football, however. That same year, the Football Association banned women’s football from the grounds of all their member clubs. The FA’s view was that “the game of football is quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged”. Women could still play but were now restricted to using second-rate facilities that could no longer accommodate large numbers of spectators.
It would be another 50 years before the FA officially recognised women’s football in 1971 and over the next few years, Enfield FC played hosted to a couple of high-profile fixtures. In 1976, England played Scotland in the three-team Home International tournament at Southbury Road, while in 1980 the ground was the venue for the showpiece Women’s FA Cup Final between St Helens and Preston North End.
Enfield Ladies Team
Enfield Ladies began life as Merryhill Midgets in 1985, initially playing 5-a-side before embracing the full team game in 1989. One benefit of the link-up with Enfield FC was the greatly improved facilities available to the team and the fact that they no longer had to scour the borough for a suitable pitch. The move also coincided with progress on the pitch as Enfield Ladies enjoyed a series of promotions, eventually reaching the FA Premier League Southern Division in 2001-02.
The loss of the Southbury Road ground meant the club had to play its home matches at a variety of venues, including Southgate Cricket Club. In 2003 a decision was made to switch allegiance to Enfield Town FC and the club changed its name to Enfield Town Ladies FC.