Birmingham — England women’s jubilant players revealed they had received good-luck messages from the Lionesses as they rode the tide of women’s sport success to land a first Commonwealth Games title.
The final was meant to be part of a ‘Super Sunday’ trilogy of finals involving England, before the netball and cricket teams lost on Saturday. It was left to England’s hockey team to land the title and, roared on by 6,000, they duly delivered in beating Australia 2-1.
England captain Hollie Pearne-Webb then revealed that several messages from England footballers, as well as the Nevilles, had given them an early morning shot in the arm.
“We had a video message from Leah [Williamson] this morning which was amazing,” she said. “And then we had a message from Phil Neville, the former England manager and Gary and Tracy Neville as well.
“We’ve had lots of messages of support from the women’s sport world, which has been amazing and just incredible.”
Pearne-Webb hoped that the summer of success would continue to raise the profile of women’s sport.
“You see for the Lionesses what it will do for them. After Rio we had a big boost and then it probably dropped off a bit.
“Hopefully it’s a win/win for all sport. We loved that they have done so well. The more women’s sport can build momentum the better for all of us. We are always behind them as they are with us.”
“At the moment women’s sport is really taking off and it is a case of capitalising on all those opportunities. We have amazing groups of players and altogether we are hoping women’s sport continues to grow.”
With boosting messages behind them, England put in their best performance for many a year, perhaps since winning the EuroHockey 2015, their last major title.
“The belief we’ve shown as a team is amazing,” said Lily Owsley. “I never for one second in that game thought that we wouldn’t win it. We had a lot of control. But Australia are so good and just won a bronze at the World Cup. We had to give them that respect but we had to come out fighting.”
With six Rio stars on show, it meant that a third of the squad had experienced plenty of disappointments since the 2016 Olympic success, with this new squad experiencing highs at the first time of asking.
“Every single medal is special, the home ones are more special. Some were saying that it was some people’s first final but we as England or GB haven’t had a major final for seven years. This is just as exciting for us.
“We had a real run in the Rio cycle of making finals and we haven’t done it for so long. That was so special and we no longer have the semi-final curse. We are a team now to reach finals and we will now show up at every tournament looking for medals.
What the former students said…
I spent six seasons at this stomping ground usually on a Thursday night staring at the clocktower waiting for training to end. It’s a very different environment and for Lily Walker [current student who purchased tickets for the Games before her call up] it will suddenly be very underwhelming when she comes back here with no roar of a crowd.
This is my old university pitch so to be back out there playing in a commonwealth final and getting a gold medal is absolutely surreal and I cant believe what has just happened and it doesn’t feel real yet. I’m still getting abuse from the sideline just like a student would. To get this event to what it is, it is incredible and I am so so grateful to be a part of it. it is ridiculous, it is crazy. The whole setup is amazing. Super grateful to be a part of it.