Worthing FC to host Edwardian football match for Armistice centenary

Players from Dick Kerr's Ladies in 1921, one of the first association football teams SUS-181109-120224001
Players from Dick Kerr's Ladies in 1921, one of the first association football teams SUS-181109-120224001

History will repeat itself next month in a battle of the sexes to commemorate the centenary of Armistice Day.

On October 14, Worthing FC will host a football match between Worthing Ladies and serving members of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment in a mirror image of a showdown in 1918.

Nurses with soldiers from the First World War. Picture from West Sussex County Library Service - www.westsussexpast.org.uk/Pictures SUS-181009-153924001

Nurses with soldiers from the First World War. Picture from West Sussex County Library Service - www.westsussexpast.org.uk/Pictures SUS-181009-153924001

Gates open at 1pm at Worthing FC’s Woodside Road ground, with kick-off at 2pm.

The original game, dubbed A Grand Football Match, took place on March 13 between Worthing Ladies and wounded First World War soldiers from the Grange Auxiliary Hospital in Surrey.

It was covered at the time by the Worthing Gazette, which described how the men gallantly had their hands tied together to give the ladies a chance – and subsequently lost 6-5.

This year, both sides will play with unrestricted limbs.

The 1918 article described it as ‘a new and novel phase of feminine activity’, for which the ladies only had one full practice session. Even so, the report described ‘conspicuously good form being exhibited by Miss Prince and Miss Curvin’.

Total receipts amounted to £16 and seven shillings, which would be about £475.09 in today’s money, towards the Grange Auxiliary Hospital.

This year’s proceeds will go towards charity Care for Veterans, which specialises in supporting soldiers with brain injuries and degenerative neurological diseases. Fundraising officer Christine Gillott said it is proud to be involved.

“We started in 1919 and we are very proud to still be looking after people who serve our country,” she said.

“We try to keep our veterans as active as possible, mentally and physically, so being involved with the match is very much within our remit.”

Organisers are looking for descendants of the original ladies’ team to get involved and are encouraging spectators to wear 1914/18 attire, with prizes for best dressed.

Surrounding retailers are being asked to prepare Edwardian window displays and musical accompaniment from a brass brand will maintain the military atmosphere.

The men’s team will be dressed in ‘hospital blues’, to reflect their 1918 predecessors, and the ladies will wear traditional football kits from the period.

Organisers are looking for volunteers to donate raffle prizes, help on the day, create decorations and food and take part in renactments in Edwardian costumes.

The event is being supported by Arundel-based Frank Sandell and Sons. To book tickets, call 01903 218444.