It’s my first West London Sport column since playing for England in the Women’s World Cup. Being involved in the tournament was an amazing experience and one I’ll certainly never forget.
Feeling the love
We got a sense of how the nation was reacting to the success we had because you get it through social media and being sent pictures from all the coverage. But you cannot really take it all in and fully understand the response and interest when you are so far away.
We knew there was certain expectations to cover the tournament and obviously knew being on the BBC was huge, but the exposure was incredible and the way people bought into it was amazing.
I watched the Japan game the other day – the first game I have seen since coming back – and it was brilliant to see the build-up. The fact the match got the full treatment with the analysis, pundits, and then the game itself shows how the game is coming on.
I do feel life my life has changed since coming back. I have been stopped in supermarkets by a whole range of people, from young girls and boys all the way up. So many people have said they stayed up late to watch us and were really into it. It’s lovely to see and hear so many people talking about it.
It’s been fantastic, and the attention the World Cup has brought to the game feels like a reward, not just for the build up to the World Cup but for the effort that has been put in to the game in the last 15 years.
Much of the progress simply boils down to investment and the fact more players are fully professional. It’s simple isn’t it? There is so much more chance to improve. I know my game has come on so much because of being full-time and having more preparation.
Picking one magical World Cup memory
The Canada game stands out; it was like we were playing an entire nation. It is such a supportive country and playing in front of 55,000 fans was brilliant. You could feel the anticipation and excitement on the streets and the support they had was amazing. I love playing in front of big crowds – it really inspires you to play better.
It was such a rollercoaster of a tournament but we really built up momentum. Losing in the semi-finals the way we did to a goal so close to the end was pretty crushing. We only had a couple of days to get over it before the Germany game but we were so determined to finish on a high and we knew we might get a tonking if we did not have the right attitude.
But we desperately didn’t want to finish with a defeat. It was new territory playing for third place and it really mattered to us and somehow I felt like we wanted it a bit more.
The bigger picture
It’s still nice to sit back and reflect on what we achieved, but the buzz has gone now. Women’s football has to capitalise on the success. It will be hard to compete with the men’s game again when that starts up, but the crowds from the first week back were brilliant and it was wonderful to see the new faces at Staines for our game against Bristol and the interest the World Cup generated.
We really have to try to maintain attendances at that increased level and then look to push on again. We need to continue to tap into the fact that the product is great and more and more people are aware of that.
The atmosphere is a big draw – lots of people love the family feeling and the fact the girls are so approachable. We need to retain that and build on it.
Post World Cup wake-up
We know we didn’t play that well against Bristol but managed to win and we can have no complaints about the result against Sunderland. At least losing against Sunderland has kept the league interesting! It’s so tight at the top and makes for an exciting league.
We have a massive game against Manchester City coming up. They have a few players back after injury and teams are now breathing down our neck again. But we need to control what we do. We are top of the league for a reason.
The feeling we had in the dressing room after the Sunderland game was like the feeling we had when we lost league. It was the first time we had lost since then and it was not nice.
We don’t want it again so we need to need to respond. Some people are expecting us to crumble, but we aren’t going to.