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Soccer Stadium

SMITH'S DOCK, MIDDLESBROUGH 

A huge thanks to Bryan Stubbs for sending the wonderful picture believed to be of the Smith's Dock Ladies (South Bank, Middlesbrough) football team circa 1917.

Saltburn-born Bryan came across the image when sorting out his late mother's belongings after her recent death.

The lady in the centre, holding the ball, is Bryan's maternal grandmother, Leah Margaret Edwards.

 

Born in the port town of Hartlepool, County Durham, on March 23, 1901, Leah would have been around 17 years old in the photograph. She married Albert Stimpson on August 21, 1922.

 

Bryan, 76, who has lived in Grangetown, Redcar and Normanby (all in North Yorkshire) and attended secondary school in Middlesbrough, said: "I knew my grandma lived in South Bank and at one time worked at Smith's Docks painting ships but I can't be 100 per cent sure that this is the works' football team. She may well have played for other teams in the area as well.

 

"The location might be Ayresome Park, the then home of Middlesbrough FC. There's a sizeable crowd, too. Sadly, no record exists of the Smith's Dock Ladies team playing at Ayresome Park but we know many matches weren't covered in the press."

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Smith's Dock Ladies team

(Credit: Bryan Stubbs)

Bryan, Leeds-based for the past 55 years, continued: "However, we know that on Saturday, December 15, 1917, an L. Edwards is recorded as having played in a trial match to find a squad to represent Teesside against Tyneside, so we can confidently assume L. Edwards was my grandma, especially as it was stated she played for Smith's Dock.

 

The match, South Bank Ladies versus Middlesbrough Ladies, took place at Normanby Road, South Bank, with the proceeds going towards the Northern Echo Soldiers' and Sailors' Comforts fund."

 

The South Bank team had a pick of players from Bolckow, Vaughan & Co., Ltd., Smith's Dock, Ridleys, Rise Carr, Railway Athletic and Stephenson's.

 

In his book, The Munitionettes: A History of Women's Football in North East England During the Great War, Patrick Brennan lists the South Bank Ladies' team that won 3-2:

 

E. Wells (Smith's Dock), R. Wells (Smith's Dock), V. Martin (Bolckow's), Amelia Farrell (Bolckow's), E. Milner (Bolckow's), C. Conway (Smith's Dock), Sarah English (Smith's Dock), L. Edwards (Smith's Dock), W. McKenna (Bolckow's),  Annie Wharton (Bolckow's), A Leach (Bolckow's). 

 

The Middlesbrough team had a pick of players from Dorman Long's Britannia Girls No. 1 & No. 2, Richardson Westgarth's No. 1 & No. 2 and Dorman's Port Clarence. It was recorded as follows:

 

A Briggs (Clarence), B. Quigley (Westgarth's), M. Barnett (Westgarth's), F. Agar (Dorman No.2), R. Boyle (Dorman's No. 2), L. Lawrence (Clarence), L. Dunn (Dorman's No 2), G. Jefferson (Westgarth's), M. Vinckely (Dorman's No. 2), A. McIntyre (Clarence). Reserves: G. Hawthrorne (Westgarth's) and J. Clay (Clarence).

 

It doesn't look like this photo was taken at the Teesside trial because the unmistakable Winnie McKenna was on the South Bank Ladies' side and she's not in the team photo, so it is more than likely the Smith's Dock Ladies' eleven.

 

Leah never played in the Teesside Munitionettes v. Tyneside Munitionettes match which was held in Stockton in front of 2,000 spectators on February 2, 1918 (it had been postponed from January 19 due to inclement weather). Several players who represented Teesside never played in the December trial. Again, this could have been due to injury (at the time of, and after, the trial), people leaving the workplace or retirement from football.

 

The match ended in a 1-1 draw. The scorers were Bella Reay for Tyneside and Winnie McKenna for Teesside.

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