2015 was the year that women’s football truly established itself, becoming its own entity and highly regarded by the media and fans alike.
For years, females playing football was either ignored or, with the now-notorious video of Richard Keys and Andy Gray, openly mocked by the more stupid of the old football establishment.
However, over the last five years, women’s football has slowly gained more respect, and this year, with full coverage from the BBC and the performance in the World Cup in Canada, women are at long last receiving the admiration they deserve for playing football.
The England women’s team performance gave more pride to this country than anything their male counterparts have given in at least fourteen years. In the group stages, despite opening with a loss to France, they went on to beat Mexico and Colombia 2-1, with Liverpool’s Fara Williams scoring the winner against the Colombians.
The second round saw the Lionesses come from behind, to beat an excellent Norway team 2-1. Manchester City’s Steph Houghton scored England’s equaliser, before her fellow Blue, Lucy Bronze, scored a stunning winner to see the team into a Quarter Final match against hosts Canada in Vancouver.
The match against the highly rated hosts was effectively over in the first 15 minutes, with Bronze again scoring to give England a 2-1 win and, for the first time ever, see them into the semi-finals.
A heartbreaking stoppage time own goal from the excellent Laura Bassett in the semi-final gave Japan victory over the Lionesses and forced them into a third place play-off with Germany.
An extra time penalty from Fara Williams gave an English football team a rare win over old rivals Germany, to see the women finish the tournament in style.
The performance of the England women’s team in Canada was a moment of great sporting pride for this country and, in particular the North West, with stand-out performances from Liverpool and Manchester City players.
Since the successful World Cup campaign, the Lionesses have played twice in the Euro 2017 qualifiers, beating Estonia 8-0 and Bosnia & Herzogovina 1-0; a crucial goal from Manchester City’s Jill Scott giving England victory in front of a crowd of 13,040 at Bristol’s Ashton Gate stadium.
These wins prove that the England women’s football team are going from strength to strength; there’s plenty more to come from these Queens of the Jungle.
By Anthony Murphy