The 'Dagenham Invincibles'  women’s football team who played during the First World War have been remembered at the Cenotaph in Whitehall on this year’s Armistice Day.

A wreath was laid at the invitation of the Western Front Association to honour Sterling Ladies FC, the women factory workers in Dagenham who never lost a game between 1917 and 1919. 

The women contributed to the Great War effort doing 12-hour shifts in factories, then laced up their boots to play before crowds of 10,000 bringing respite to a nation clouded by the fog of war.

They played 36 matches, won 34 and drew two during two full seasons, scoring 201 goals and conceding just 14. 

But the Dagenham factory team had to hang up their boots in 1919 when men’s football resumed. 

Their triumphs might have faded into history but for a recent play, The Invincibles, by Amanda Whittington, which mixes historical and contemporary issues. 

The drama tells the forgotten story of these Dagenham wartime women workers alongside the England Lionesses, who followed up their Euro 2022 triumph by reaching the final of the 2023 World Cup.

Steve Bolton, who was historical consultant for the play, was chosen to lay the wreath at the Cenotaph.

His grandmother Lizzy Ashcroft made her football debut at 16 during the Great War and went on to play for St Helen’s and the hugely successful Dick, Kerr Ladies. 

“We owe our freedom today to brave women like the Dagenham Invincibles,” Steve said.

“The Sterling Ladies FC was one of 250 factory teams across the country who helped to raise a fortune for the war effort playing charity football, often after a 12-hour shift.”

Steve discovered three suitcases full of women’s football memorabilia in Lizzy’s loft after she died in 1973. 

The Western Front Association has paid special tribute to the women “who did so much to lift the spirit of the nation during the Great War”, working in factories and still finding time to play a high-level football.

These women were pioneers in their service to the nation “who should not be forgotten”.