Plaque honours ex-Spartans star

Blyth Town Council members and Blyth Spartans staff at the unveiling of the Blue Plaque for Bella Reay. Picture by Highlights PR.
Blyth Town Council members and Blyth Spartans staff at the unveiling of the Blue Plaque for Bella Reay. Picture by Highlights PR.

One of Blyth Spartans and England’s most prolific players has been honoured.

Female footballer Bella Reay played centre forward between 1917 and 1919, scoring 133 goals in one season.

After the First World War, women’s competitive football was generally unaccepted in public circles making her playing achievement even more remarkable.

Now her achievements have been honoured with a Blue Plaque, unveiled by Blyth Mayor Coun Adrian Cartie, joined by Blyth Spartans Club chairman Tony Platten.

Bella, the daughter of a coal miner in Cowpen, worked in a munitions factory and played football during the First World War when competitive league football was suspended.

The football team – using a variety of names including Blyth United Munitions Ladies, Blyth Spartans Ladies and Blyth Spartans Munitionettes – was formed in August 1917 by women working as dockers and munitions workers at the South Docks.

Bella helped the team to become one of the best in the region winning the coveted Munitionettes’ Cup.

Coun Cartie said: “These days, ladies’ professional football is very popular but back then Bella was a real pioneer and someone who deserves the honour of a plaque in memory of her achievement. It is very fitting that it is placed on the side of the stand at her beloved Croft Park.”

Mr Platten added: “We have a wealth of history and tradition here at Croft Park and we are delighted that the club can remember one of the leading lights in ladies’ football.”