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West Cumbrian Women Make RL History

Tuesday 4th September 2012

West Cumbrian Women Make RL History Story in brief:
In a unique doctoral project being undertaken at the Institute for Sports History and Culture at De Montfort University in partnership with the Rugby Football League, Hull's Victoria Dawson is writing a comprehensive study of the history women's involvement in rugby league. No history would be complete without more on Cumbria's female rugby leaguers.

In 1953, teams from Workington and Dearham were making history. As far as rugby league historians know, they were the first women's rugby league teams in the post-war era! On Thursday, 17th September, 1953, the rugby-loving women of Workington, under the guise of Marsh Hornets, took on the established Dearham Amazons. The Amazons won the match 15-6 in front of a crowd of two-thousand spectators. After the game, the Mayor of Workington, Councillor Mrs. Smith, presented medals and a trophy to the winners and gave the teams and the referee, Workington Town's Tony Paskins, a civic reception.

The Marsh Hornets were made up of teams from the Marsh and Quay area of the town and some have come forward with more information. However, all we know about Dearham Amazons is what was written about this game. We know the Amazons played in an annual Carnival Match, and they had an impressive winger called Doreen Bell, who was "a wing threequarter with speed and sidestep that would put many present wing threequarters in the shade". High praise indeed!

Newspapers tell us about the women's involvement with rugby league in 1953, but if these ladies are to get the credit they deserve for being pioneering women in the game then Victoria needs to hear from the ladies themselves, or relatives, friends, and people that watched the games.

If you knew them, or know someone that did, please email VictoriaDawsonRL@hotmail.co.uk, or call the International Centre for Sports History and Culture on 0116 250 6486 and leave a message. You can also find Victoria on Twitter: @VDawsonRL. Victoria would also like to speak to anyone else with information they think may be of interest to the project as a whole.

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