Local discovers mother moonlighted as champion footballer in 1920s

Local discovers mother moonlighted as champion footballer in 1920s

RAAFA’s Erskine Grove resident Joyce Cole never suspected her mother moonlighted as a champion footballer until a chance discovery last year.

“My mother never told me a word about it and it wasn’t until I was going through old photos and found a program and sepia photograph that I realised there was something she hadn’t told me,” Joyce said.

“There was this sepia photograph of women in short skirts and bloomers in 1922 at West Leederville Oval and a four page program about the competition, between Boan’s and Foy and Gibson department stores.

“In the program they included little headshots with a comment about each footballer – next to my mum’s name it said she was a ‘dab hand with scones and jam at the department store’.”

Excited by her discovery, Joyce contacted the State Library and the WAFL, which put her in touch with historian Brunette Lenkic who has recently published a book shining a light on the history of women’s football in WA.

Women’s AFL began as a competitive sport in Perth back in 1915, when two teams from department store Foy and Gibson played each other at Loton Park.

The game has been played continuously ever since – culminating in the new professional league debuting this year.

Recently, Lenkic visited residents at Erskine Grove Estate where she shared the little-known history of the women’s sport over the past 100 years.

For Joyce, the timing of her discovery was pure serendipity.

“People have asked me ‘was your mum sporty’ but up until now I had no idea, she was just my mum,’’ she said.

“But she had this secret life moonlighting as a footballer.

“She would have been about 24 at the time of the photograph.

“She started off in Boan’s as a milliner then switched to waitressing.

“Even though mum never spoke about this, I think it must have really meant something to her though, if she kept the program and photograph with her all those years.”