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Lionesses bring football home

Greg Devine


Amid a time of madness, during a cost-of-living crisis and as the country has no official Prime minister, England’s female players brought football home. Women, who were banned by the FA in the 1920s, brought football home. Not the men’s team, but the women’s team—they brought football home.

I spoke about the history of women’s football and its dark past in this country; it’s only fair to celebrate their incredible victory in the UEFA Women’s Euros 2022. One hundred years after 53,000 fans piled into Goodison Park to watch a women’s charity football match, 87,192 fans watched England win the Euros against Germany. Chloe Kelly’s scrappy goal will be one engrained in the history books. A goal talked about for many years to come.

The final itself was similar to many other finals: a cagey affair. Was it always pretty on the eye? No, but it didn’t need to be. England were strong in the tackle, it clearly meant something. Not only were they playing to win a major trophy, they were also inspiring the next generation of women. They were showing football is anybody’s game. England’s victory will only help grassroots football, for young girls and also for young boys.

As more young women are inspired by players like Chloe Kelly, Georgia Stanway, Nikita Paris, Millie Bright, and Jill Scott, they will join their local teams and bring more money into the sport. This doesn’t just help the girls’ teams, but all teams for that local football club.

Let’s not forget the other teams that played in the tournament, which will have also inspired young girls to get into the sport. England hosted the women’s Euros, and this message will have reached youngsters across the UK. The stadiums that played host benefited from increased income and, in some cases, upgrades to their premises. Rotherham’s New York Stadium, home of Rotherham United, received new floodlights, courtesy of UEFA. Would the club have afforded these if they hadn’t been part of the tournament? Probably not.

The lionesses also finally lifted England’s trophyless curse. More than 55 years of hurt, finally quashed by a team that was banned from playing football the last time England won a major tournament. ‘It’s Coming Home’ was played at Wembley, not in hope, but in celebration, 26 years after the song was originally released.

English football isn’t too healthy at grassroots levels; however, our national teams are amongst the best in the world. Both teams got to the European finals; the women won it, and with the men’s World Cup just around the corner, we could have both our men’s and women’s teams as champions. Two teams at the top of their game, adored by the country. Time will tell…for now, we’ve new national heroes to celebrate, like Ella Toone, who scored the first goal, becoming a household name in the process. And let’s not forget Chloe Kelly’s extra time winner either, the goal that ended over 55 years of trophyless tournaments.

I’m writing this the morning after England’s historic victory and all the office is talking about it. The radio won’t stop talking about it, and they’re even playing classic England songs. Celebrations are still going on in Trafalgar square. The Queen even made a rare statement of congratulations saying, ‘You have all set an example that will be an inspiration for girls and women today, and for future generations.’

The future looks bright. There are plenty of young, talented footballers who played a blinder in this fantastic game, who could easily achieve even more wins in their careers. There’s also an entire generation, inspired by England’s victory, who will be dreaming of doing the same themselves. 55 years of hurt has finally ended. Football has finally come home.

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