“We do not think that women’s football will ever become popular,” said Pip, a cartoonist in 1927 who was lampooning with his pen the big bottoms of the Darlington girls who had just played for the first town team.

“Referees couldn’t stand it, neither could the spectators, and what can the baby think about it?” he continued. “Of course, these people in years to come will be able to tell the story of how they played for Darlington, but surely that is nothing to brag about.”

The Northern Echo: Pip\'s cartoon from the Northern Despatch of January 1927 mocking the Quaker Ladies

Next week, 95 years later, the descendants of “these people” will kick off the 13th Women’s European Championship which will culminate with a final at Wembley – a ground from which, had it existed in 1927, women would have been banned.

Pip’s cartoon, from the D&S Times’ former sister paper, the Evening Despatch, was pasted into the front of a scrapbook by Lillie Galloway, who was the prime mover in the first Darlington team. She played in that first game and then became manager, leading her Darlington Quaker Girls to become “the crack women’s football team of the north” with two of her players starring for England.

The Northern Echo: Lillie Galloway, pictured with the scrapbook which is now in the possession of her great-grand-daughters

Lillie Galloway, pictured with the scrapbook which is now in the possession of her great-grand-daughters

During the First World War, many factories which had suddenly come to rely on female workers started women’s teams – these girls were called “munitionettes”, as many of them made ammunition. Their matches proved popular, attracting such big crowds that in 1921, the Football Association banned them from playing on men’s professional grounds (this ban remained until 1971).

Women’s football went underground, and Lillie’s scrapbook, which now belongs to her great-grand-daughters who have recently loaned it to the Arthur Wharton Foundation, tells how she formed her team in 1925.

Darlington FC gave the women strips and allowed them to train at Feethams, even though they could not play matches there, and Lillie raffled a bag of flour to raise money for boots.

The Northern Echo: The Darlington Quaker Ladies team photo with the cups they had won during the 1931-32 season. Lillie Galloway is on the right and her husband, James, is on the left

The Darlington Quaker Ladies team photo with the cups they had won during the 1931-32 season. Lillie Galloway is on the right and her husband, James, is on the left

The first known match was on January 3, 1927, and the players changed in the upstairs of Lillie’s house in Askrigg Street, off North Road, and then yomped to a plot of waste ground in the shadow of the Five Arches mainline railway bridge for kick off.

The nation was in the depths of the economic recession and Lil’s team played as Darlington Labour Women against Windlestone Labour Women to raise money for the Miners’ Boot Fund. They lost 5-3, which inspired Pip to cruelly draw pictures of the Darlington women laying in the goal and using their backsides to keep the ball out.

That Darlington side featured sisters Sarah and Betty Hooper who would be stars of the team for the next decade. Their brothers, Bill and Mark, played for the Quakers, and Mark was on his way to becoming an FA Cup-winning legend at Sheffield Wednesday. Their uncle, Charlie Roberts, made 271 appearances for Manchester United before the First World War.

The Northern Echo: Lillie Galloway with the ball with her new signing Lydia Clements on the left. On the right is Doris Brown and Florrie Harbron is in the centre. In 1937

Lillie Galloway with the ball with her 1937 signing Lydia Clements on the left. On the right is Doris Brown and Florrie Harbron is in the centre

Lillie, though, drove the team forward. She was married to James, a footballer, and had four sons who helped her with the coaching, but Lillie washed the kits and cleaned the boots as well as acting as manager, talent scout and pitch finder.

In 1928, her women played their first Good Friday match as part of the railwaymen’s carnival. They took on Windlestone once more at the Railway Athletic (RA) ground in Brinkburn Road, and raised money for the National Union of Railwaymen’s Orphans Fund.

In 1929, the Good Friday charity match was between Woolworths girls and Marks & Spencers’ workers, but the following year’s fixture was condemned by the Council of Christian Witness as a “degrading display”. This obviously boosted the gate, as more than 7,000 watched a 3-3 draw (the professional male Quakers only drew 5,340 that weekend for their match at Feethams).

The Northern Echo: Quaker ladies

The Quaker Ladies

For Good Friday 1931, Durham FA tried to prevent the women from playing at the RA ground, but a local backlash forced them to relent and the Quaker Ladies beat the Darlington Redcaps 3-1 (two goals from Betty Hooper).

The Northern Echo: The Quaker Ladies in 1932 with Lillie on the left of the back row. This was probably taken at the RA ground in Brinkburn Road before the Good Friday match against Terry\'s Chocolate Girls, in which Betty Hooper scored both of Darlington\'s goals in a 4-2

The Quaker Ladies in 1932 with Lillie on the left of the back row. This was probably taken at the RA ground in Brinkburn Road before the Good Friday match against Terry's Chocolate Girls, in which Betty Hooper scored both of Darlington's goals 

Good Friday 1932 saw the first of seven annual home fixtures against Terry’s Chocolate Girls from York, which attracted crowds of up to 10,000.

After two defeats, the Quaker Ladies emerged as the dominant force – in 1934, at the Hundens Lane rugby pitch, Priscilla Roddham scored five goals as the Chocolate Girls melted to a 10-1 defeat.

By the mid-1930s, the Quaker Ladies were attracting national attention. “Founded by Mrs Galloway to raise funds for a miner's charity, the girls play about a dozen matches a season and have a wonderful record of successes,” says a cutting from a national newspaper. “The gate money is all devoted to charity and the players earn nothing for their skill beyond an occasional present of a string of beads or a powder compact.”

The Northern Echo: Lillie's headed notepaper, probably from 1936, noting the girls' triumphs

Lillie's headed notepaper, probably from 1936, noting the girls' triumphs

The Northern Echo: Lydia Clements, of Glasgow, shocks the football world by signing for the Darlington Quaker Ladies in 1937

Lydia Clements, of Glasgow, shocks the football world by signing for the Darlington Quaker Ladies in 1937

In 1937, Lillie swooped in the transfer market, and signed 19-year-old “fair-haired and blue-eyed” Lydia Clements, from Glasgow. Lydia had been playing for 10 years and wrote to Lillie, as manager of the most successful side in northern England, asking for a game. There is a note of incredulity in the cuttings that Lydia – who was “essentially feminine” – had given up her job as a curtain-maker and left her boyfriend behind to live with Lillie in Askrigg Street.

She went straight into the side for the Good Friday fixture against the Chocolate Girls.

The Northern Echo: Lydia Clements in training for the Quaker girls before her debut on Good Friday 1937

Lydia Clements in training for the Quaker girls before her debut on Good Friday 1937

“Speedy and, despite dainty ankles, able to swing a pretty pass, she raised several cheers in the first quarter of an hour,” says a cutting, as she helped Darlington win 5-2.

“Patricia Robson, the Quaker captain, scored three times and Greta Plews, the centre forward, twice,” says the report.

Lydia doesn’t get another mention in the scrapbook – perhaps because “the Fighting Quakers”, as they were now nicknamed, had stars aplenty.

The Northern Echo: The 1937 programme for the fixture in York against the Chocolate Girls. You would have thought Binns could have come up with a more appropriate advert

The July 1937 programme for the fixture in York against the Chocolate Girls. You would have thought Binns could have come up with a more appropriate advert

In the 1938 Good Friday match, they beat the Chocolate Girls 2-0 with Priscilla Roddham and Greta Plews – who was known as “Jackie” – scoring the goals. The duo were then selected to play for an England XI against Scotland in a greyhound stadium in Newcastle. England triumphed 4-2, with Jackie scoring a hat-trick and Priscilla, the other Quaker lady, getting the fourth.

This international high point marked the end for the Quaker Ladies.

The Northern Echo: Three well dressed Quaker Ladies before they changed into their football gear

Three well dressed Quaker Ladies before they changed into their football gear

On the eve of the 1939 Good Friday match, Lillie announced that Darlington could not muster a team to take on the Chocolate Girls, and their boots would be filled by a side of Teesside shopgirls called the Stockton Nomads. A cutting tells how Lillie is “sadly disappointed” that family duties had stopped so many of her girls playing.

Referring to Dick Kerr’s Ladies from Preston, who were the all-conquering Manchester City of the day, the cutting continues: “The Quaker Ladies have an exceptional record of successes. The only women's team they have not beaten is Preston ladies, and they have won the Cramp Challenge Cup twice, the Darlington Carnival Cup twice, the Redcar Illuminations Festival Cup, the Witton Park Carnival Cup, the NUR shield and several sets of medals and souvenirs.” Another cutting hails them as the North Eastern Counties Champions.

The Northern Echo: We think this is a picture of a Quaker Ladies team that took on West Auckland. Betty Hooper, the star striker, is at the centre with the ball while at the back is goalkeeper Phyllis Fine, whose married name was Lunn. We believe Phyllis was the last of

We think this is a picture of a Quaker Ladies team that took on West Auckland. Betty Hooper, the star striker, is at the centre with the ball while at the back is goalkeeper Phyllis Fine, whose married name was Lunn. We believe Phyllis was the last of the Quaker Ladies, and she died in 2007, aged 95. Normally a full back, the only time she went in goal was against West. Normally a full back, Phyllis went in nets for a game against West Auckland. She told Memories in 2006: "I caught the ball and then I was booled into the blinkin' net by their centre forward, and it was a goal, "

The Northern Echo: Lillie Galloway, manager of the Darlington Quaker Ladies

Lillie (above), though, was not beaten by the matrimonial turn of events. “I have certainly not given up, and before the team’s splendid reputation is forgotten, I am going to try and restart,” she said.

However, later in 1939, war broke out, and the Darlington Quaker Ladies never reformed.

Lillie died in Hundens Hospital in 1971, and now her remarkable scrapbook belongs to her great-grand-daughters, Beverley Avery and Gail, Nicola and Joanne Henderson, who have loaned it to the Arthur Wharton Foundation. The foundation promotes the legacy of Wharton, whose career as the first black professional footballer started in Darlington.

The Northern Echo: Beverley Avery, left, and her sister Gail Henderson, with Toni Upton, the current Darlington Ladies captain, and Shaun Campbell from the Arthur Wharton Foundation in front of the mural of Arthur in Widdowfield Street, Darlington

Beverley Avery, left, and her sister Gail Henderson, with Toni Upton, the current Darlington Ladies captain, and Shaun Campbell from the Arthur Wharton Foundation in front of the mural of Arthur in Widdowfield Street, Darlington

“Our aim is to connect the present to the past for the future, and the attitudes that existed back in the days of the Quaker Ladies are still, in some places, prevalent now,” says Danny Howes, of the foundation.

“But football is everyone’s game – it shouldn’t just be seen as a men’s game.

“Last season was the first that Darlington FC, which is nearly 140 years old, ran a women’s team. It is now established as a focal point for women’s football in the town, and the foundation sponsors two of the players. It is part of Arthur’s legacy to promote all aspects of the game.”

The Northern Echo: Lillie Galloway with the ball with her new signing Lydia Clements on the left. On the right is Doris Brown and Florrie Harbron is in the centre. In 1937

Lillie Galloway with the ball with her new signing Lydia Clements on the left in 1937. On the right is Doris Brown and Florrie Harbron is in the centre

In 1889, Arthur made his professional debut for Rotherham, which is hosting three games in the 2022 women’s Euros. The foundation is putting on an exhibition at the ground to convey the message of inclusivity for which Lillie Galloway and the Darlington Quaker Ladies were such great torchbearers.

The Northern Echo: A 1932-33 team picture with Lillie Galloway on the right

A 1932-33 team picture with Lillie Galloway on the right

Any stories of the Quaker Ladies would be most welcome. Much information taken from the donmouth.co.uk website which deals with North East women’s football in some depth. Many thanks to everyone who has helped with this article, including Lillie's family and the Arthur Wharton Foundation.

The Northern Echo: Two 1931 Quaker girls with a trophy

Two 1931 Quaker girls with a trophy

 

The Northern Echo: Two Quaker girls