Magical Mary made history

NELLIE Kirk, far right, with her English teammates
NELLIE Kirk, far right, with her English teammates

OUR coverage of lady footballer Nellie Kirk created plenty of interest.

And not least because she wasn’t the only footy-playing female from Hartlepool to hit the headlines that year.

A second star of the pitch has emerged.

Mail reader Peter McNaughton told us: “She was then called Mary Dorrian and was 17 when the photo was taken.

“She later became Mary Hannah and had six children of which my mother, Frances,was one.

“Unfortunately, only two are still alive. Bryon Hanna still lives in the town and was heavily involved in the New Deal for Communities in the town and was rewarded with the MBE for his efforts.

“His brother Peter is still alive and kicking in the Sydney area, having emigrated in 1973.”

Mary, it seems, was every bit as talented as her town counterpart.

On December 15, 1917 she was another one of the females from England who were invited to play as a “Probable” in a trial match against the “Possibles”, at Wallsend.

The idea was to select the best for an England team which would travel to Ireland for the first ever women’s international football match.

Mary did enough to make it onto the England team which set off for Ireland on Christmas Eve, 1917.

At 11am, on Boxing Day, she and Nellie – plus nine other English women – lined up to face the opposition at Grosvenor Park.

At 11.10am, Mary created history when she scored the opening goal. And even though the Irish equalised, England went on to add another three.

It was quite a trip. Mary also got to visit the Imperial Picture House and have lunch at the Kensington Hotel.