Daylesford women pioneer football in the 1940s

Women’s football has rapidly gained popularity this year with the introduction of the AFL women’s league, but history shows it is not a recent phenomenon in Daylesford. 

BEFORE THEIR TIME: June Powell, Irene Malone and Averil Winduss played football in a Daylesford all-women team in the 1940s. They will share their stories at a historical society meeting on Sunday. Picture: Dylan Burns

BEFORE THEIR TIME: June Powell, Irene Malone and Averil Winduss played football in a Daylesford all-women team in the 1940s. They will share their stories at a historical society meeting on Sunday. Picture: Dylan Burns

Young Daylesford women played football in the 1940s, post World War II. Three players will share their experience of the game over 70 years ago at a Daylesford and District Historical Society meeting on Sunday. 

June Powell, Irene Malone and Averil Winduss played AFL in one of two all-women football teams in Daylesford in 1947. 

The Dayelsford teams were mainly made up of women who worked in the two local textile mills; Daylesford Woollen and Worsted Mill and Daytex Mill. 

Averil Winduss, now 88, played football when she was 18 and working at the woollen mill. 

Ms Winduss said the women’s teams in 1947 played three games of football. The two Daylesford mill teams played against each other, before making a combined team to play against the Castlemaine Woollen Mill.

“We were before our time,” Ms Winduss said. 

“It was a time when the fellas were away at war and there was not much going on.”

Daylesford and District Historical Society research coordinator Heather Mutimer said there were many all-women football teams playing across suburban Melbourne and country Victoria around the time of World War II. 

“I think this story is connected to the war story, because a lot of the women’s football peaked during the war times,” Ms Mutimer said.  

“Women were given permission, out of necessity, to do things that men did. Then when the war was over women were expected to go back to their traditional role.”

The women’s football matches were considered a novelty at the time. A report in The Advocate on August 26, 1947 about a match between the two mills at Middleton Park, was headlined “A sporting novelty – girls football match”. The matches drew considerable crowds, with 2000 in attendance at a game against Castlemaine on October 10, 1947. 

Ms Mutimer said it was important to keep the women’s story ‘alive’. 

“It is like a lot of the stories of women, they just get forgotten,” Ms Mutimer said. 

“I think it is important their stories are told. They were pioneering sports women. These ladies are only the handful of remaining players and once they go, the story is gone.”

The community is invited to attend the Daylesford and District Historical Society meeting on Sunday at 2pm at the Daylesford Museum. Contact the Daylesford and District Historical Society on 5348 1435 or history@daylesford.net for more information.