This page explains how Lily Parr and Joan Whalley were inducted into the National Football Museum Hall of Fame.
After the publication of my book, 'In a League of Their Own'! Lily Parr was saved from relative obscurity, her talents became known to a much bigger audience and I am extremely proud of my contribution to that. I had worked closely with The National Football Museum since its opening in 2001 and early in 2002 they invited me to nominate a female player to be considered among the list of hopefuls to be inducted into their inaugural Hall of Fame event.
My dream for Lily Parr came true when the outside left for the Dick Kerr Ladies from 1920-1951, scorer of over 1000 goals during her career, became the first female football player to be inducted into The National Football Museum Hall of Fame. June Gregson, former goalkeeper for the team was with me, and what a glittering and emotional night it was. Ray Stubbs introduced some archive footage of the inaugural inductees participating in some of football's greatest and most exciting moments. Having sat through some of George Best's wizardry, Gordon Banks making that unbelievable save from Pele, Bobby Moore lifting the World Cup, Sir Stanley Matthews and Sir Tom Finney tearing the defence to shreads, Sir Matt Busby and Sir Alex Ferguson both lifting the European Cup, Kenny Dalglish, Denis Law, Kevin Keegan, Bryan Robson, Dixie Dean, Paul Gascoigne, Peter Doherty, Jimmy Greaves, Duncan Edwards, Johnny Haynes, Nat Lofthouse, John Charles, Billy Wright, Peter Shilton and Dave Mackay all carving out their own place in history, and some of the managers who helped them achieve immortality, Brian Clough, Bob Paisley, Bill Shankley and Sir Alf Ramsay. After all of that, I had to get up and tell everyone about Lily Parr.
As I walked up to the podium, Sir Bobby Charlton and Sir Alex Ferguson were sat just to my left. I could see Kenny Dalglish, Denis Law and Bryan Robson in front of me, and I knew that the rest of football's finest were also in that room. I gave a brief potted history of the Dick, Kerr Ladies, mentioned the 53,000 at Goodison, how few games they had lost in their 48 years, told them about Lily Parr and what a great player she was and I heard people gasp when I told them just how many goals she had scored. June told me afterwards that Sir Bobby Charlton had said I was the best speaker of the night! It was a wonderful experience sharing that very moment when Lily Parr officially became a legend and finally received the recognition she truly deserved. Thankfully the young lass from
My research also uncovered Joan Whalley's talent, and her love of football was second to none. Newspaper reports compared her skills to those of the great Sir Stanley Matthews and Sir Tom Finney and her peer's also had a great deal of respect and admiration for her ability. One of the special things about Joan was that she was so modest, she never mentioned her own talent but was always praising others. She always said, " you should never get big headed about football, if your head get's too big your feet will get out of proportion".
Joan went to school with Tom Finney and he went on to play over 600 games for Preston North End, was capped 76 times for England and he never received a booking from the referee. He was always her idol. They both played on the right wing and Joan was dubbed as 'Preston's other great winger'. She was a well known figure in the town and is still remembered to this day. She died in 1998.
The Hall of Fame award was presented to her neice, Gloria Butcher, by Sir Tom Finney and myself, at Old Trafford, Manchester in 2007. Joan would have been delighted and thrilled to bits with the honour, and her favourite word to sum up how she would have felt about it all would be ..... BRILLIANT!