The early history of Irish women's soccer, like so many female team sports, is so unrecorded and unheralded that it's little surprise Dundalk's pioneering women got the date wrong themselves. They were out by a full two years until a young Irish historian and the unlikely corroborative source of Dana helped put the record right recently.
Dundalk Ladies were in their vanguard in the swinging '60s. They were regular winners of an unofficial 'national league' which pre-dated the inaugural women's League of Ireland (12 teams, including themselves) which the WFAI set up upon its own foundation in 1973.
Their manager, Kevin Gaynor, was a huge advocate for women's soccer and his interest in the distaff game outside these shores meant Dundalk Ladies were also, remarkably, one of the 44 founding members of the British women's FA in November 1969.
The Louth women had a reunion in 2018 to mark another especially historic achievement which was also recognised by a half-time presentation at a men's game in Oriel Park and at a Republic of Ireland women's World Cup qualifier (versus Northern Ireland) in Tallaght Stadium the same season. But it turns out all those celebrations were two years premature.
It was actually today, 50 years ago, at the Prestatyn Harness Racing Stadium, that Dundalk Ladies played England's Corinthian Nomads in what was, unofficially, the first 'international' women's soccer match on these islands.
Several of the instigators - Gaynor, his wife Nan and trainer Arthur Carron - have sadly passed away, taking much of the background story with them. But most of the players are still hale and hearty and part of a still vital generation just emerging from their enforced cocoons in the past week to resume the physical activities they still enjoy.
And they were 'tickled pink' to discover that they had actually celebrated Ireland's first unofficial women's soccer 'international' too soon; confirmation, in kind, that Dundalk Ladies were always women ahead of their time.
Meath native Helena Byrne, a web archivist at the British Library, noticed the error while researching the phenomenon of the Dundalk indoor soccer leagues (of both genders) in the 1960s and '70s, where local factory teams introduced many women to football.
And when this reporter tracked down Joan Williams, who played in goals this day 50 years ago, she settled the debate by simply asking: "When did Dana win the Eurovision?"
Living in Trelogan, North Wales, for the past 30 years, Williams can still name the Prestatyn disco where Dundalk Ladies strutted their stuff that night and remembered the DJ playing 'All Kinds of Everything' (Eurovision winner, March 1970) to acknowledge them.
Female footballers caused a real stir back then. The English FA's bizarre ban on women playing in their affiliated grounds ran from 1921 to 1971, hence the venue for this auspicious game.
Dundalk's 16-year-old star striker Paula Gorham, who scored their only goal in Prestatyn, is still talked about with awe.
Then captain Marie Bingham (nee Conway) went to work in the Blackthorn shoe factory when she was 14 and was still in her teens when their indoor team evolved into 11-a-side in 1968. One of Blackthorn's men's team told her he'd found a super addition for them but her mother would need some persuading.
"Paula was only 12! We were both from the same end of town (The Quay) and her mum let her come play with us once I'd look after her, so I used to go around and collect her," Bingham remembers.
"Yes, I was still in school," Gorham says. "I joined Blackthorn the first year of the Indoor Maytime Festival in the Adelphi Ballroom which was huge back then."
Street soccer had already honed Gorham's skill and passion.
"A friend of mine made a book of all the cuttings on me and there's a comment in it that (says) 'Paula's choice of toys as a small child always included a football and pistols!'" she laughs.
Her recall of May 1970 isn't too forensic simply because of her extraordinary versatility.
"The girls say 'do ya not remember?' and I say 'listen girls, if youse played what I played!' I was involved in so much; the soccer, the Louth ladies' Gaelic, playing badminton, squash for Leinster and on camogie and basketball teams. My father used to say I played in everything except the men's confraternity!" she quips.
"I'd cycle back from training to go play indoor football and, if the men's team was missing one I'd stay on and play, and then I'd get in trouble when I'd go home because I wouldn't have my homework done."
Dundalk Ladies drew from a broad catchment. The Martin sisters - Madge and Bernadette - were part of their Ardee quartet; initially camogie players who got banned for playing soccer and later turned to Gaelic football.
"That game in Prestatyn wasn't officially recognised as an international game," Gorham acknowledges. That milestone was three years later when an official Ireland team, captained by Galway star Nono McHugh, beat Wales 3-2 in Llanelli and Gorham scored the hat-trick.
But Dundalk versus Corinthian Nomads was billed in the programme as 'England v Ireland' by the Prestatyn & Rhyl Lions club for which it was a fundraiser, and 4,000 people paid a shilling each to attend.
Ireland's de facto 'first international' also featured a handful of Dubs because twins Joan and Jacinta Williams, Stasia Wogan and Stella Clarke (a teen tyro nicknamed 'Eusebio' due to her skills and skin colour) guested for Dundalk.
While Dundalk were kicking up a storm in Louth they were doing likewise on Ballyfermot's legendary 'Lawn'.
"There was three Wogans and their mother Margaret coached us," Williams recalls with a chuckle. "This was in the early '60s and we were called Sinners Utd. We used to play the local men every Sunday morning for training because there were no other women's teams to play. Then the Dublin Leinster Junior League started and got pretty big, with four divisions."
Many of the Sinners later made up the Dublin Allstars, an amalgam that included future Irish legend Anne O'Brien. They had an unbeaten seven-year run in the Dublin league and won multiple Cups too, with St John Bosco of Drimnagh their arch rivals.
Williams, a machinist in the rag-trade, recalls that, because of a bus strike, her side once walked from Ballyfermot to Tolka Park for a Cup final.They won 3-2 with O'Brien bagging a hat-trick, hitched a lift home on the back of a lorry, trophy aloft "and most of us were back in work the next day".
Williams, like Gorham, played for Ireland - five times in 1974 - before moving to Wales in 1975 when her international career stalled.
The late Kevin Blount, the Dundalk goalkeeper who also coached the Allstars, was the catalyst for the teams' brief 'cross-pollination'. "He told us 'I have a team in Dublin that'll beat ye and I'll lay £50 on it' . . . but we won the money!" recalls Bingham with glee.
Yet even bolstered by some Dublin stars, Dundalk were still hammered 7-1 by Corinthian Nomads.
That was no surprise. The programme notes said the Manchester side had already amassed 53 trophies (including the 1957 European Cup) and raised over £250,000 in similar charity games all around the globe.
'Ladies beaten but they impressed' was the headline in one Louth newspaper, on a report of just six paragraphs with no picture. But that, and the scoreline, mattered little to these sporting ground-breakers for whom the boat trip to Holyhead and overnighting in a Welsh guesthouse was equally thrilling.
Half a century later three of their players have passed away and the memories, like the cuttings, are curling and fading at the edges.
Joan Williams' sister Jacinta lives in James Street but they've lost touch with 'Eusebio' who they believe moved to Manchester. Williams has had three operations on her shoulders and another on her back but bristles when you suggest her beloved game might have been a contributor.
She played football until she was 45, starred at centre-forward for several Welsh clubs before finishing up back in goals and refusing all invitations to play for Wales.
Her buddy Anne O'Brien became a pro and a superstar in Europe. When she died, only 60, in 2016, her son brought her ashes home from Italy and the packed service in her native Inchicore included most of the Dublin Allstars, including Joan.
After Dundalk Ladies disbanded, Gorham played with Drogheda and Dublin League of Ireland side Avengers and she played 11 times for Ireland.
"My son Mark insists he has an international cap because I played against England when I was six months pregnant," she laughs. "I got clearance from the doctor. When the kids were small they'd just come with me to matches and we'd stop on the way home for a picnic.
"I'd no interest in dancing or anything else. I just loved sport and keeping fit and it's only now, when I look back, that I realise that I could do anything with a ball. I meet people who say, 'Jesus, remember that goal you scored from near half-way in Oriel Park?' and I genuinely don't."
She's applied her incredible talent to golf lately, though an unsuccessful knee replacement has temporarily put a stop to her gallop.
Bingham quit football upon motherhood but is now an avid hillwalker, whose upcoming trip to Italy with the local Setanta Mountain Goats Walking Club has been stymied by the pandemic.
Half a century before campaigns like 20x20 and #CantSeeCantBe these pioneering women had no visible role models. Little or no records of Dundalk Ladies' halcyon football days exist but their place in history, especially today, deserves marking.
When Gaynor went to give his captain the 'international' match pennant afterwards Bingham said "No Kevin, you keep it" because all the rest of the girls got nothing and I felt I shouldn't either.
"I was usually inside-right. Paula would laugh and say 'the wee size of you!' but I was just never afraid of anyone because football was my passion. I loved the skill of it, holding on to the ball. It's really hard to explain how I felt when I got out playing football but I just absolutely loved it."
Dundalk Ladies versus Corinthian Nomads on May 10, 1970: Joan Williams, Jacinta Williams, Ann Osborne, Madge Martin (RIP), Nellie McShane, Stasia Wogan, Margaret O'Callaghan, Marie Conway, Paula Gorham, Stella Clarke, Geraldine Murphy (RIP). Reserves: Kathleen Osborne (RIP), Bernadette Martin, Kay Dillon.
Sunday Indo Sport