Marsh and Quay women were on the ball with post-war rugby team
Last updated at 12:50, Friday, 28 September 2012
The women of Workington’s Marsh and Quay area are likely to have been one of the country’s first female rugby league teams after the Second World War, new research has revealed.
Victoria Dawson, a PhD student at Leicester’s De Montfort University, has researched women’s rugby and found that a league match between the Marsh Hornets ladies’ team and the Dearham Amazons, at Workington’s Lonsdale Park on Thursday, September 17, 1953, could mean they were the first women’s teams to play post-war.
Women from the Marsh and Quay who played in that match included Margaret Jardine, Elsie Jardine, Evelyn Pears, Florrie Matthews, Emily Galea, Kath Ferris, Jennie Jardine, Josie Whitehead, Jean Dustin, Pat France, Betty Jones and Jean Matthews.
The Amazons won the match 15-6 and it was watched by more than 2,000 people.
Victoria said match reports in newspapers gave it mostly positive reviews.
The Rochdale Observer, described Workington as a “rugby mad town” while George Plummer, of the Cumberland Evening Star, complimented Doreen Bell – the right wing of the Dearham team.
Men’s professional rugby league clubs were formed in Workington in 1944 and in Whitehaven in 1948.
Ronnie Jardine, of Westfield Drive, Workington, was a linesman for a Queen’s Coronation friendly match between the Marsh Blondes and Quay Brunettes on Saturday, May 2, 1953.
He said that women’s rugby was popular with crowds.
Mr Jardine, who was a wing for the Marsh Hornets men’s rugby team, said: “In those days, women playing rugby definitely had the wow factor and you could tell this by the thousands of people that turned out for their matches.
“The games definitely made an impact for those who played in them and those who watched.”
The coronation match was played on Burma Road, Workington, where Halfords and Morrisons supermarket stand today.
It was organised by the carnival committee and raised money to buy all the schoolchildren from that area a bone china cup, saucer and plate, to mark the coronation.
A second friendly match was played on the ground that year between the teams.
Some of the women who played on the teams then came together to form the Marsh Hornets ladies’ team who went on to compete against Dearham.
Mr Jardine added: “I don’t think the ladies’ Hornets team played any more games after that, but as far as the Dearham team goes they could have gone on to play more.”
Alma Windley, 76, of Wastwater Avenue, Workington, who played for the Quay Brunettes, said: “It was a fantastic atmosphere and we all got together to raise money to buy the kids a gift for the coronation and to hold a street party.
“There were women of all ages on the sides. Some were in their 40s and 50s at the time, mothers and daughters.
“I only played one match, because I was tackled to the ground and broke my elbow, but I went to the second match to support them.”
June Light, 75, of Bolton Street, Workington, said: “I was about 16 when I played for the Marsh team against the Quay team. My mum also played on the Marsh team.
“We had never done anything like that before. A van took us down to the ground and it was quite daunting getting out because we didn’t expect so many people down there to support us.”
Victoria has managed to get information about the Marsh Hornets but wants anyone who was involved in the Dearham squad to contact her on 0116 2506486 to arrange an interview.
- Were you involved in women’s rugby in West Cumbria in the 1950s? Were you on the Dearham team? We’d love to hear from you – call 01900 607631 to tell us your story!
First published at 11:56, Friday, 28 September 2012
Published by http://www.timesandstar.co.uk
Have your say
Be the first to comment on this article!
Make your comment
- Don't forget to pick up this week's Times & Star!
- You look like that man off the TV!
- Farmer keeps 260ft turbine bid in motion with appeal (3 comments)
- Workington arson victim fears mistaken identity
- June 11 launch for West Cumbria flood defences
- Workington store closing (1 comment)
- Fish factory axes 40 jobs after loss of key contract (1 comment)
- Wedding guest left for dead after Workington hit and run
- Obituary - Richard Wimpress, of Cockermouth
- Herdwick given EU protected status