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Soccer Stadium


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Blyth Spartans Ladies in 1918

What's in a name?


Even when contemporary newspapers reported the names of munitionette footballers they were often misspelt. Hence, Bella Metcalf is often written as Metcalfe. Bella was christened Lizzie (her middle name was Isabella), so she was initially recorded as E. Metcalf(e), then B(ella) Metcalf then I(sabella) Metcalf.


Some women were initially listed in teams under their maiden name and later under their married name, giving the impression that they were two different players. In the case of Sally Matthews (see below), she started as S. Matthews and when she married became S. Cornforth which morphed into Sarah Cornforth in later reports; Sally being the popular moniker used for people called Sarah.

Cup-winning munitionettes

The winning Blyth Spartans Ladies team in May 1918 was: Lizzie James; Nellie Fairless; Hannah Weir (formerly Hannah Malone); Agnes Sample; Martha O'Brien; Bella Metcalf (captain); Ada Reed; Annie Allen; Bella Reay; Mary Lyons; and Jennie Morgan.


A brief Evening Chronicle article (18 May 1948), with the headline "Spartan-ettes recall soccer win of '18", was written to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Blyth Spartans Ladies winning the Alfred Wood (The Munitionettes') Cup.


Of the eleven-woman team, nine were still living in the Blyth district and all were married or widows.


Striker Bella Reay, a widow, worked on a farm in the village of Bebside, Northumberland, while left-half Bella Metcalf ran the popular Market Inn, Blyth, with her husband Stan Gray. The article tells us Lizzie James (goalkeeper) lived in the village of Cambois (pronounced "Kam-es"). It also lists Jean [Jennie] Morgan (outside-left), Ada Reed (considered the fastest outside-right in women's football) and centre-half Nellie Fairless, although these are their maiden, not married, names. And finally, it mentions how inside-forward Dollie Allen, was now called 'Raffell' after marrying J.D. Raffell, a former member of Blyth Town Council.


Dollie Raffell played in the first cup final at St. James' Park, Newcastle, in April 1918 when it was a 0-0 draw but she had left the team by the time of the replay at Ayresome Park, Middlesbrough, (six weeks later) when that re-match took place in May 1918.


Of the other five players, Mary Lyons lived in Jarrow, then in County Durham - she was a guest player for Blyth Spartans Ladies in the cup final replay at Ayresome Park, Middlesbrough.


That left Annie Allen, Hannah Weir (who married shortly before the final and was henceforth called Hannah Malone), Agnes Sample and Martha O'Brien.


In the Ministry of Munitions of War report (16 December 1916), an A. (Agnes?) Sample, aged 19, of 39 Disraeli Street, and J (Jennie?) Nuttall (later Morgan), aged 20, of Middle Row, Isabella Pit, were about to leave their employ at Blyth Salvage Depot within the Port of Blyth. Jennie married William Morgan on 13 October 1917 and played matches under her married name of Jennie Morgan.

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