Eng­land behind Eng­land: Is it com­ing home?

We joined Romance F.C’s Women’s World Cup screening in an East London pub to catch up with the fans, old and new.

It’s the Women’s World Cup. And there’s not an emp­ty seat in the pub.

These are the peo­ple shap­ing the future of foot­ball, one scream at the TV and one bang of a fist on the table at a time. When it comes to the Women’s game, a lot has changed since the last World Cup. This time around the team have bet­ter spon­sors, bet­ter kit and it’s the first year that the entire squad are full-time foot­ball play­ers. It’s mad to think that just four years ago these women had to keep jobs on the side to fund their passion.

Waves don’t start at the top. They start from the move­ment below the sur­face. Peo­ple of the every day, who are slam­ming down the his­to­ry books and say­ing enough is enough. In aid of the big event, Romance FC, Slowe and Bad Sports have come togeth­er to host a num­ber of WWC screen­ings. Their mis­sion? To ensure the women’s match­es get the air­time they deserve this sum­mer. And it’s result­ed in a foot­ball com­mu­ni­ty like no oth­er. There’s no judge­ment here. You don’t need to under­stand the off-side rule, or even know any of the player’s names – as long as you can chant it’s com­ing home”.

The door is open.

TRISHA LEWIS Founder of Romance F.C.

What made you get into football?

When I first moved to Lon­don I felt like a small fish in a big pond. I real­ly strug­gled to find a com­mu­ni­ty, so it was a no-brain­er to get involved with foot­ball. I went down to the Boil­er Room games and they asked if I want­ed to set-up a women’s team – the rest is history!

Women’s foot­ball, men’s foot­ball, is there a difference?

There’s way more com­radery in the women’s game. Every­one has got each other’s back, on and off the pitch. It’s not a one-per­son show. We win togeth­er, we lose togeth­er, we draw togeth­er. There is no shame for hav­ing faults; I think that’s what defines sisterhood.

Is it com­ing home this summer?

I have hope. Not only are they start­ing to believe in them­selves, they have a whole coun­try behind them. If they keep play­ing the way they’ve been play­ing, and give us a bit more bite, they will go all the way through. But even if they don’t win, the Euros are com­ing and that will be on home turf, it’s the per­fect chance to show-off what they’re made of.

Thoughts on Phil Neville?

He. Is. Great. It’s the Cin­derel­la sto­ry. The under­dog. It’s every­thing we can relate to. When you’ve been on the los­ing side you appre­ci­ate how great win­ning feels, and that’s what he is chas­ing. What a role model!

How would you sum up the first goal against Japan?

It was awe­some, I swear it hap­pened in slow motion. It was one of those unex­pect­ed moments where every­thing aligns.

ALEX LEDGE – Mem­ber of Les­bian Foot­ball Club”

Tell us, what kind of fan are you?

I am a die-hard fan. Now I’ve start­ed play­ing, I actu­al­ly under­stand what’s going on and can make sense of the rules.

Who is your favourite player?

Niki­ta, whatsaname…Parris? Yeah, she’s from Liv­er­pool, she’s fuck­ing love­ly AND played excel­lent­ly in the last match!

What got you into football?

Lit­er­al­ly, I set up a Les­bian foot­ball club called Les­bian Foot­ball Club. I start­ed it as a way to find queer mates who were women, not to find a girl­friend! It’s all about the sport.

If the Eng­land foot­ball squad were a pack­et Crisps, which flavour would be they be?

Skips. They are a clas­sic, every­one loves them, they feel kin­da nos­tal­gic and they leave a tang in the tongue.

BECKY PLOT­NEK

Tell us, what kind of fan are you?

I am zero to a hun­dred. Just get­ting into it and simul­ta­ne­ous­ly a die-hard fan.

Who is your favourite player?

Did you see the ref for the last France vs Nor­way game? Wow, she was great. Not a play­er, but her, It’s got to be her.

What got you into football?

Just queer women work­ing in the arts, who want­ed to do a social fun sport togeth­er. Foot­ball was the sport we went for.

If the Eng­land foot­ball squad were a pack­et Crisps, which flavour would be they be?

Salt and vine­gar; we bring the right amount of every­thing to get that per­fect flavour.

ISOL­DE GOD­FREY Mem­ber of Les­bian Foot­ball Club”

Tell us, what kind of fan are you?

You know what I’m just get­ting into it. So I’d say a starter fan.

What got you into football?

Alex – my mate [who] start­ed a les­bian foot­ball club which we now all run together.

If the Eng­land foot­ball squad were a pack­et Crisps — which flavour would be they be?

Mon­ster munch – my favourite.

DOMINIQUE RUS­SELL

What got you into football?

When I was lit­tle my aun­tie and uncle kit­ted us out in all the ham­mers kit. And I loved it. Then that was kind of it. But I got back into it recent­ly because my boyfriend is an Arse­nal fan, so I nor­mal­ly just watch it with him.

Is women’s sport your usu­al thing?

This is the first one where I’ve made sure I’ve watched the whole thing. It’s just a way of meet­ing loads of oth­er girls who are into foot­ball. This can be some­thing we can all do together.

Women’s foot­ball, men’s foot­ball – is there a difference?

It brings togeth­er a col­lec­tion of like-mind­ed girls – it’s powerful.

GEORGINA HUNT

What got you into football?

My fam­i­ly got me into foot­ball. My dad and my grandad are mas­sive West Ham fans, so I grew up watch­ing it. But it wasn’t until I got to uni and start­ed research­ing women’s sport, that I was so blown away by it all. I’m kind of more into the cul­ture than the actu­al game. I love every­thing that it stands for, foot­ball brings peo­ple together.

Is women’s sport your usu­al thing?

I watched it a bit. But hav­ing looked into the his­to­ry of women’s foot­ball it real­ly piss­es me off. So I turn that anger into some­thing pos­i­tive and come to these events. I’ve always want­ed girls to watch foot­ball with. When­ev­er I go to foot­ball match­es it’s always my dad and his mates. So this great, I get to chat with girls about foot­ball, and that’s some­thing special.

Women’s foot­ball, men’s foot­ball, is there a difference?

I love men’s foot­ball, but with the women’s there is some­thing to root for. It’s a mis­sion to believe in.

How would you describe the Eng­land players?

All the women on the team are clas­sic Eng­lish women. I like how some of the girls have fake nails, fake eye­lash­es — like that’s a real woman, that’s real Eng­land. They rep­re­sent the women of today.

JAMES PIERCE

What got you into football?

I’ve played it all my life. My dad was a Liv­er­pool fan, but I liked Ian Wright. So I start­ed sup­port­ing Arse­nal when I was like four. That’s where it all began.

Is women’s sport your usu­al thing?

In years before I haven’t fol­lowed it that much. This is the first Women’s World Cup I’m prop­er­ly fol­low­ing and it’s great.

How would you describe the Eng­land players?

They are real. And it’s the same even with the men, they used to be kind of salt of the Earth’ blokes, and now they are walk­ing around with lit­tle bum bags. That’s Eng­land today, I guess.

VIKS ABOLS

What got you into women’s football?

I did it because I wasn’t allowed to. My dad was in the army and I used to turn up at the army youth clubs want­i­ng to play and every­one would tell me I can’t. So I went every day and just sat watch­ing the boys play. It took them a year before they said: yeah you can play”. Then after that sea­son, girls were allowed to play foot­ball in the army. It was sound as fuck!

How has sup­port for the women’s game changed?

I am watch­ing the women’s game. In Lon­don. In a pub FULL of peo­ple. I nev­er thought I’d say! Over the past eight years, it’s spi­ralled and it’s fuck­ing incredible.

Women’s foot­ball, men’s foot­ball, is there a difference?

Mon­ey makes the dif­fer­ence. The women aren’t play­ing for pound signs. It’s for the love of foot­ball. It’s just nor­mal foot­ball and they hap­pen to be women.

Who is your favourite player?

Lucy Bronze. A very ath­let­ic, skilled play­er. That’s a quick way for say­ing she’s fit as fuck haha.

If the Eng­land foot­ball squad were a pack­et Crisps, what flavour would be they be?

A new flavour of it’s com­ing home.

NIK­KI CRAW­LEY [left], SOPHIE HARD­ING [right]

Tell us, what kind of fan are you?

Nikkie: I’ve only real­ly got into watch­ing it recent­ly. But I love it – I would call myself a die-hard fan now.

Sophie: I watch a lot of men’s foot­ball, but there has been so much cov­er­age of the women’s game, we’ve been watch­ing every match. Recent die-hard is how I’d describe us.

Do you play football?

Nik­ki: Yeah. I love play­ing foot­ball, I’ve played for years. I was gut­ted at 11 when I had to stop play­ing with my boys team because mixed-sex groups weren’t allowed past that age. But then I found a girls team, and I’ve basi­cal­ly car­ried on since. It’s the best.

Sophie: I used to play a bit here and there. But now I am more of a watch­er than a play­er haha!

Have you watched the Women’s World Cup before?

Nik­ki: I have watched bits. But nev­er fol­lowed a tour­na­ment like I have fol­lowed this World Cup. Like every match, we’re glued to it.

Is it com­ing home?

Sophie: I don’t want to say. The pres­sure is high. But Eng­lish foot­ball, well it hasn’t exact­ly got the best his­to­ry has it. Let’s hope for the semi’s, that’d be nice.

Nik­ki: I think we’ve got a good chance. Just fol­low­ing them on Insta­gram, you can see they are hav­ing loads of fun. That helps. Fun is the secret to a win I reckon.

Thoughts on Phil Neville?

Nik­ki: I love him. Some peo­ple were anti him because he wasn’t into” the women’s game. But he clear­ly under­stands women. And it feels genuine.

Sophie: I think he gets a lot of stick and shit from and the papers and oth­er foot­ballers. But Phil has felt what’s it like to not have the respect he deserves. He has some­thing in com­mon with the girls, he knows a bit of how they are feel­ing and I think that’s amazing.

Who is your favourite player?

Nik­ki: I like Car­ly Telford, the goalie — she’s great!

Sophie: I’d say Lucy Bronze. But she hasn’t real­ly played that great yet. Obvi­ous­ly Steph Houghton too, but I thought the last game, she was awful. Hope­ful­ly, Phil has had a word with her haha!

If the Eng­land foot­ball squad were a pack­et Crisps, which flavour would be they be?

Nik­ki: Got­ta be Salt and Vine­gar McCoys, you know the ones with the ridges in? They are tough but full of flavour.

Sophie: Easy. Ready salt­ed Walk­ers. They have the poten­tial to be the best crisps, but some days they aren’t. Some days you just need a bit more flavour.


Relat­ed

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