By Connor Steel
LOCAL FOOTBALL FANS came together in celebration of a historic national achievement on Sunday night as they witnessed England Women secure the 2022 European Championship title on home soil, with the Lionesses’ beating famous arch-rivals Germany 2-1 after extra time at a sold-out Wembley Stadium and ensure that ‘football came home’ for the first major silverware since the World Cup victory back in 1966.
Pubs across both boroughs, including the Cocked Hat in Gosport and Delme Arms in Fareham, invited their customers to watch the final on large screens; many offering football themed deals on food and drink as they looked to build upon growing attention from residents to the women’s game over recent weeks. This was replicated at Cams Alders and Privett Parks with both football clubs opening their club bars for the evening.
And nobody was disappointed as the Lionesses sealed their victory in extra time following a nervous final; Sabrina Weigman’s team holding their nerve as Chloe Kelly’s winner sealed the first women’s title in their history and avenging a heavy defeat to the same opponents in 2009. It also marked a seismic moment for women’s football following huge investment by the FA and ends a run of three semi final defeats since 2015.
The Lionesses’ success marks the conclusion of a record-breaking tournament for women’s football in terms of crowd numbers, with over 500,000 supporters watching from the stands in the last 4 weeks. This includes gates of over 24,000 in Southampton and Brighton during opening group games, whilst yesterday’s final set a new record for the largest ever attendance to a women’s game as a crowd of 87,192 piled into Wembley.
More importantly the tournament seems to have inspired young girls including teenagers to start playing football across the country, a trend felt locally in Gosport and Fareham. For example AFC Portchester and Gosport Borough have both seen an increase in enquires around their ladies team, whilst Fareham Town have been busy over recent times as they announced their own side for the 2022-23 season starting soon.
One teenage Globe female reader said: “I watched England play North Macedonia at St Marys Stadium last year and was there for the Northern Ireland match a few weeks ago. The difference in the atmosphere was amazing and it just shows how far women’s football have come in just a short time. It makes me want to start playing again with friends and family, and I may even join a local club in the future once I sort my fitness out.”
In the hours following the Lionesses’ success, the team have been inundated with many tributes including from the Royal Family and high-profile football stars; with Dame Caroline Dinenage offering congratulations to the newly crowned champions. The Gosport MP tweeted after Sunday’s big victory: “SMASHED IT!! What a nail-biter. Congratulations to our amazing, inspiring, super @Lionesses #WEuro2022Final #ENGGER”.
Neighbouring Fareham MP Suella Braverman simply retweeted a congratulations message from PM Boris Johnson, watching at home with his young children, reading: “Football has come home! A stunning victory by the @Lionesses Huge congratulations to Sarina, Leah and the whole team. Football pitches across the country will be filled as never before by girls and women inspired by your triumph. #WEURO2022.”
Fareham Police shared a post on Facebook in tribute to the Lionesses reading: “You did us all proud Well done from all of us at Fareham Police.” Another online message from Gosport Police read: “NO LONGER MISSING: Thank you for sharing our appeal over the last 56 years. We’re pleased to report that Football has finally been found and safely returned home. Huge congratulations to the team from all at Gosport Police!.”
Celebrations continued earlier on Monday as players lifted the European Championship 2022 trophy at a special Trafalgar Square event at lunchtime, which was attended by thousands of fans and young children who soaked up the atmosphere. Highlights of this event can be seen on the BBC Sport website, whilst local celebrations may be organised across the country over the summer with authorities hoping to build a legacy.
PICTURED BY SPORTS PRESS PHOTO: England start their historic journey with narrow one-nil victory over Austria at Old Trafford on July 6, which set the platform for historic title success on Sunday evening.