Voices: I’m a grown man – I watched the Lionesses win against Germany and wept

·3-min read

OK. At the risk of shredding my “woke” credentials I’ll admit that the Lionesses hadn’t really, really, caught my attention until now.

I’d actually been influenced in this regrettable attitude by a colleague who was both more woke then I knew more about football and, as he pointed out, had two daughters – but he still wasn’t going to waste any time on watching women’s football because “it’s not as good”.

So, thus guided– or misguided – I took a leisurely, half-interested/half-not, semi-detached attitude to this admittedly quite major event. I drove to the little local Sainsburys for supper supplies and snacks (I went there because I’m not one of those “tedious” Waitrose people, and anyway Waitrose was both overpriced and shut).

This woke-blaspheming act, so to speak, was undertaken after kick off, and I did it almost defiantly – as if to say I’m not going to be a slave to mass hysteria. I also went at that time because the micro-mart would be less crowded (and thus carrying marginally less Covid risk, and yes I’m not ashamed, and no I haven’t had it yet). I was sort of trying to be cool about the whole Lionesses thing.

Anyway, clambering back into the excellent all-electric Volvo C40 (make of that what you will), and tiring of Heart 90s, I tuned in to BBC Radio 5 Live. One-nil! Not what I was expecting. I’d missed more of the game than I thought. And, just like a match I’d really care about, like Leicester City going one up against Forest and relegating them, I had to hurry home.

The battery could scarce cope as I hammered it, anxious to see if England could hold the lead, as so often the men’s team failed to and had to settle for a scrappy draw. As is well-chronicled, the Lionesses did, and for such a long time. Yet...

Then the usual happened, the Germans equalised and it was grim familiarity for England fans. As I’d casually predicted at the start, with Prince William looking on, I thought it would be level pegging at half time. So it proved, but the Lionesses showed more composure, steadier nerve and greater self-confidence than even our wonderful male team displayed last year.

Game management – hanging on to the end within the rules and without excessive time wasting, was a tribute to the Dutch manager, Sarina Wiegman. Twenty games undefeated. Give her a Damehood.

Then – for me, an old bloke, in contrast to your heroes on the field – it was all just a hopeless, emotional, teary (and may I add advisedly, ironically and respectfully) a right girly-style mess. Sean wept. It was like the ultimate rom-com. The drama was every bit as unbearable as the blokes’ game, but, it has to be said, indeed yelled, that there was this massive big difference – THEY. DID. NOT, BOTTLE. IT.

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I’ll admit I wasn’t sure what would transpire when Chloe Kelly’s understandably hesitant shirt-off celebration made history, but I think we’re used to the boys wearing what look to be sports bras these days. There you go.

This England team were cooler than the guys – and, yes, what they gave away in sheer “physicality” they more than made up for in skill. It was a fearfully beautiful game to watch.

In America, “soccer” is very much a female sport, and there’s nothing wrong with that, even though Europeans seemed to find it demeaning. Now maybe we know better.

Anyway, England had worthy opponents in Germany, as ever, and they brought football home. At last! Who wouldn’t cry? So, my tears dropping on the keyboard as I write: Baby, I’m a believer, and thoroughly bloke-shamed that I’d not taken it seriously before. I’ll never skip the start again.

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