Bella Reay was a war-time football heroine with a ratio of 4.33 goals per game who could’ve inspired millions had politics not got in the way

World War One. The stands of a football ground have been turned into a workshop making gas masks helmets and other protective equipment. July 1916. Inset picture: Blyth Spartans Ladies striker Bella Reay
(Image credit: Future)

In 1916 conscription saw hundreds of thousands of British men leave the country and head into battle. But from this emerged a tale that would have Joey Barton reeling.

The knock-on impact of thousands of men leaving their homes and towns was women flooding into munitions factories and dockyards to plug the gap left by conscripted men and maintain the momentum of the war effort on home soil. 

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Matthew Ketchell
Deputy Editor

A former goalkeeper, Ketch joined FourFourTwo as Deputy Editor in 2022 having worked across ChronicleLive, LeedsLive, Hull Daily Mail, YorkshireLive, Teesside Gazette and the Huddersfield Examiner as a Northern Football Editor. Prior to that he was the Senior Writer at BBC Match of the Day magazine. He has interviewed the likes of Harry Kane, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Gareth Southgate and attended two World Cup finals and a Champions League final. He has been a Newcastle United season ticket holder since 2000 and has an expensive passion for collecting classic football shirts.