Famous and Forgotten / by Andrew Colley
the true story of Dick Kerr's Laides
with Music by Fiona Ross

Cast

DICK KERR, Factory Manager
BETH HARRIS
EDITH LANCASTER
MOLLY WILSON
CARMEN POMMIER
MARY KELL
LILY PARR
GRACE HOLMES
ALICE STANLEY

JIM HARRIS, husband of Beth

THE GENTLEMEN OF THE FOOTBALL LEAGUE
DOCTORS

ANNOUNCER
REPORTERS
PHOTOGRAPHER

MLLE MILLIAT
ENGLISH SUPPORTER
FRENCH SUPPORTER

DON BAILEY

AMERICAN COMMENTATOR

A Note on casting: The size of the cast can be reduced if the actors playing the Gentlemen of the Football League also take all other parts, except those of Dick Kerr's Ladies, Dick Kerr, and Don Bailey. Similarly, the Roubaix Ladies team and the Washington Kickers can either be suggested or actually seen on stage.

Sample Pages from the script

Extract 1

SONG 1: THE STORY OF DICK KERR'S LADIES

sung by the company.

Listen to the story of Dick Kerr's
Ladies Listen to the story of a football team

When the men left England to go off to war
The women took over on the factory floor

They worked those machines every minute of the day
But when their shift finished it was time to play

Yes, they loved football, loved the beautiful game
Played it so well, their lives were never the same

Watch them shoot, watch them tackle and watch them pass
Watch them head and kick and watch them show their class

Listen to the story of Dick Kerr's Ladies
Listen to the story of a football team.

Preston, England 1916 A bare stage except for a desk which is covered with papers and a name plate `Mr Kerr.'

Music, Dick Kerr enters slowly and sits at his desk with his head in his hands. As the music fades, the house lights dim, leaving very low light on Mr Kerr and the stage.

Enter a man - Jim Harris - in army uniform, but no hat. He walks around the bare factory. Shakes his head He addresses the audience;

JIM
Dick Kerr's Engineering Works. Finest factory in the North of England. Machine parts, tools, body work. Real craftsmanship, and a decent wage too. [He pauses and looks at Dick Kerr.] Mr Kerr - the best boss a man can have. Hard but fair. If you've got a problem he'll listen, but if production's down you'll get the sharp end of his tongue. Ten years I've worked here. Ten happy years. One hundred and fifty men worked these machines. Teamwork it were. They were fine lads. Mates. Now look at it - empty. Every single one of the men has turned in his overalls and gone to the Front. I must be one of the last to go. There's some not coming back. Another two in the paper today. Still, they say it'll all be over soon. They said that last year. And the year before that. Poor Mr Kerr ... the Government's taken his place over -'requisitioned for the war effort' they call it. Turning it into a munitions factory - you know - shells, bombs, cartridges and the like. Don't know who they're going to get to work here - there's no men left in the town. I've heard talk they're going to take on the women. I can't see it myself - the thought of my Beth working these machines - standing here covered in oil and muck like us lads used to be - it doesn't seem right ...

Music as Jim goes over to Mr Kerr and shakes his hand. Receives a brown envelope - his pay packet He is met by his wife - Beth. She's carrying his kit bag and hat. They walk off, arm in arm. Bugle or reveille.

Dick Kerr stands up. He is holding a piece of paper.

KERR
Women! They want me to make three hundred cartridge cases a day and they send me women! I can't understand it. Surely there must be some men left in this town that can use these machines? It's not that I don't want women working. I don't even care if they get the vote if that's what they really want, but these are heavy machines - dirty - I can't see that they'll be up to it. It's just not right. They've sent me a list already! The first ones are arriving today.

He reads the names and the women enter, in working clothes under coats and hats. They begin to get ready for work, sitting or standing around the stage, taking off their coats and hats.

KERR Edith Lancaster ... Molly Wilson ... Carmen Pommier ... Beth Harris ...? [He pauses briefly.] ... Mary Kerr ... Lily Parr ... Grace Holmes ...

As the music fades, the lights fade on Kerr and come up on the women.

EDITH
I couldn't believe it when I saw the notice in the Town Hall ...

MOLLY
...'Ladies, your country needs you,' it said ...

CARMEN
... so I signed up...

BETH
... well, with Jim off at the war now, there's nowt to do ...

MARY
... my Dad got in a right state ...

LI LY
... don't like the look of some of these machines ...

CARMEN
... I reckon it's going to be a real laugh ...

GRACE
...they say he can be really nasty, that Mr Kerr ...

MOLLY
... I've always wanted a job ...

MARY
...'I don't like it!' he said, 'it's not right!'...

EDITH
... my old mum would be dead proud of me ...

LI LY
...I hope they show us how to use them properly ...

CARMEN
... I'm going to save up and send one of those food parcels to our Frank ...

BETH
... My Jim's been gone two weeks now. I write to him nearly every day. Haven't heard a word...

GRACE
... You will, love, just wait a while ...

MARY
...'Women at work! Whatever next?' he said. 'You should be at home where you belong.'...

CARMEN
... and I'm going to go down the pub after, just like the lads do ...

EDITH
... I reckon women have got just as much right to a job as the men...

MOLLY
... if they won't let us fight, we might as well make the bloody bombs...

LILY
...hey, that's swearing, that ...

MOLLY
... so what, the men do it, so why can't we?...

CARMEN
...I might even have some money left over for myself ...

MARY
... I hate my dad sometimes ...

GRACE
... my grandpa's jealous. He says he'd be down here if they'd let him ...

BETH
...I wonder what my Jim'll think. Last letter, I told him all abut it ...

MOLLY
...When do we start?

Extract 2

Lights fade on Jim and come up on the stage he girls come on. They're dirty and bloodied. Some are limping, and they're carrying Lily who is in pain, Mr Kerr follows them on.

KERR
Another great game, girls! They're not getting any easier, mind you. Those lasses from the brewery are no pushover. ! thought we were lucky to finish three - one up. Thought you looked a bit off form today, Carmen. That was a soft goal you let in.

CARMEN
Give over, Mr Kerr. You should try diving on that ground week after week. And I'm fed up with clattering into those oil drums. Why can't we have proper goal posts?

KERR
I didn't say it was easy, Carmen...

MARY
My knees are black and blue.

KERR
Ah, well, perhaps you should go easy on those tackles, love.

EDITH
That's nothing to do with it, Mr Kerr. There's bloody great stones in the ground, and bits of old metal. Dangerous it is.

ALICE
I went right down a pothole. Twisted my ankle really bad.

GRACE
And it's not just the state of the ground, Mr Kerr. Did you see what happened to Lily?

BETH
She ran right into the spectators. They were spilling all over the pitch. Nearly trampled her, poor thing.

KERR
Yes, well she'll get over it. There's nothing to worry about.

MARY
That's not good enough, Mr Kerr. We can't go on like this, week in, week out. Its not a proper football pitch and it never will be.

MOLLY
We want to play on a proper pitch...

ALICE
...with goal posts and corner flags... and somewhere decent to change ...

CARMEN
... and proper lines to mark out the penalty area...

GRACE
... and somewhere for the spectators to sit...

EDITH
... a pitch we can play properly on ... with grass instead of stones ...

ALICE
... we're a bloody good team, Mr Kerr, we deserve a good pitch.

KERR
What is this? A strike or something? I thought you were enjoying yourselves. Having a bit of fun.

BETH
We are, Mr Kerr. But the thing is, you see, it's got bigger than that now, much bigger. It's got - out of hand, if you like. There's teams all over Lancashire now. Everyone in Preston knows about Dick Kerr's Ladies. Everyone in Lancashire nearly. People want to know. It's giving them summat to talk about which isn't the war and rationing and who's got a flippin' telegram saying their son's not coming home. Mr Kerr, last week a reporter from the Daily Herald came to watch us. He'd heard about us. God knows from where. But the thing is, Mr Kerr, he only stayed ten minutes. He couldn't get through the crowd. And even if he could have done - what would he have seen? Twenty-two girls failing down potholes and spraining their ankles on bits of old machinery. We're a good team, Mr Kerr, and if we could get a decent pitch, I tell you we'd be more famous than Blackburn Rovers.

KERR
Now you're entering the realms of fantasy, Beth.

EDITH
She's right, Mr Kerr. There's no men's football any more. There's not been any since 1914. All those big grounds - they're empty. We could fill them, Mr Kerr. People want to watch decent football. They'd come from miles around.

LILY
Please, Mr Kerr?

KERR
You can't use those big grounds. They're for the likes of Everton and Liverpool, Oldham Athletic and Burnley. Proper football ...

There is an explosion of anger from the girls.

ALL
So that's what you think of us!
Not proper is it!
We thought you believed in us!
You're just like all the men!
You sound like my dad!
We trusted you, Mr Kerr! etc. etc.

They begin to leave angrily.

KERR
Wait! Wait, I'm sorry. Come back... please ... I didn't mean ... I don't know what I meant. I'm sorry. Wait, wait ... Look, I might be able to help you. I've got a few contacts... I'm not promising anything. Listen, what I could do - and it's a long shot, mind - is write to the Football League. MARY What the heck's that?

KERR
It's a group of men who run football in this country. It's their job.. Amongst other things, they control all the grounds. They say who plays where. To be fair, they can't have much to do at the moment, with all the men being away. Perhaps they'll see their way to loaning us a proper pitch.

MOLLY
What, with goal posts?...

ALICE
... and grandstands and everything?

CARMEN
I'm going to invite everyone from the pub!

KERR
Ay, well, let's not get carried away now. Look, it's a long shot... probably won't even get a reply. But I will write to them. Maybe ask them if they could let us use Preston's ground for our next game.

MOLLY
Against St Helen's Ladies?

LILY
At Deepdale!

CARMEN
That's our toughest match. They nearly beat us last time.

ALICE
And they've got thousands of supporters.

BETH
We'll fill the ground...

GRACE
... twice over! ...

EDITH
We won't let you down, Mr Kerr.

KERR
I didn't promise anything.

LILY
Thanks, Mr Kerr. Thanks.

The girls hurry off in great excitement. Mr Kerr walks slowly to his desk and sits down. He shakes his head. Then he takes out a pen and paper and begins to write...

KERR
Dear Gentlemen of the Football League ...

SONG 3: RULES AND PROVISIONS

sung by the Girls and the Gentlemen of the Football League

GIRLS:
Dear Gentlemen of the Football League,
We wonder if there'd be a chance
To organise a couple of games
And raise some money for the boys in France.

GENTLEMEN OF THE FOOTBALL LEAGUE
We make decisions Rules and provisions
We've got our eyes on you
We have the final say
On who's allowed to play
We are the men who know
We're the men who run the show
And we can stop your game if that's what we want to do

GIRLS
People miss football, they'd come from all around
Please let us do this, please give us a ground
Signed the management of Dick Kerr's Ladies.

GENTLEMAN 1
LADIES!

GENTLEMAN 2
WOMEN'S FOOTBALL!

GENTLEMAN 3
WHATEVER NEXT!

GENTLEMAN 4
WE'D BE A LAUGHING STOCK!

GENTLEMAN 5
IT'LL NEVER CATCH ON.

GENTLEMAN 1
IT'S A MOST UNSUITABLE GAME FOR WOMEN.

GENTLEMAN 6 spoken
But we can't be seen to refuse. Not if it's for Charity! What will people say ...?

GENTLEMAN 5 spoken
Well, let them have their pitch... they'll soon find out that this is a man's game.

GENTLEMEN OF THE FOOTBALL LEAGUE
AGREED!
We make decisions
Rules and provisions
We've got our eyes on you
We have the final say
On who's allowed to play
We are the men who know
We're the men who run the show
And we can stop your game if that's what we want to do.

Extract 3

GENTLEMAN 1
Much debate has gone on as to the pros and cons of women's football. However, we really cannot ignore the overwhelming body of evidence from our colleagues in the medical fraternity.

DOCTOR 1
I do not believe women are fitted for violent leg strain.

DOCTOR 2
They may well receive injuries from which they never recover.

DOCTOR 3
Football is a tough game at the best of times, and it is much more harmful to women than it is to men.

DOCTOR 4
It is far too much for a woman's physical frame...

DOCTOR 5
...and may affect their chances of bearing children...

DOCTOR 1
And in any case, I think we need to spare everyone this quite ludicrous exhibition of the noble sport!

The Gentlemen/ Doctors laugh and go off. Mr Kerr comes on and sits of his desk. He reads a resolution from the Football League.

KERR
"December 5th. Football League Resolution Number 5: Complaints having been made as to football being played by women, Council feel impelled to express their strong opinion that the game of football is quite unsuitable for females and should not be encouraged. The Council requests that Clubs belonging to the Association refuse the use of their grounds for such matches."

The girls come on, Music. [introduction music to Song! 5.]

CARMEN
They can't just stop us playing.

KERR
I'm afraid you're wrong there, Carmen.

ALICE
They control all the grounds in the country.

MOLLY
All the parks and recreation grounds.

GRACE
Everywhere.

EDITH
There's nowhere to play.

LILY
Last game, we had fifty-three thousand spectators.

ALICE
They'd never all fit on the waste ground behind the factory.

BETH
What are we going to do now?

EDITH
It were our life - playing football. It's what we did.

KERR
Them men up there at the Football League, they're not capable of judging what's right or wrong.

MARY
So they got a couple of their doctor friends to put the boot in.

LI LY
Me - I've never felt healthier.

MOLLY
Or happier.

BETH
Housework isn't half the trouble it used to be.

MARY
My dad'll be delighted. I can hear him now... "Good thing too, I say. Now you can get back home and help your mam - and cover your bloody legs up once and for all as well."

MOLLY
It's just not fair.

MARY
Bloody men, I hate them. I hate them all.

GRACE
They're just jealous - jealous of our success.

CARMEN
They're afraid no one will want to watch the men play now.

ALICE
They won't either. Not now they've seen us.

BETH
It's not right.

SONG 6. ALICE'S SONG.

Great while it lasted
But now it's all over
Take off your boots, girls
Say `bye to the game.

What good is our crying?
What good is all our anger
When a few men in grey suits
Take the ball away?

They don't understand
How can they ever know
What a great team we were
How much we were loved.

Great while it lasted
But now it's all over
It's back to the Home Front
Where they think we belong.