Amid all the excitement about the record crowd at Wembley it has almost been forgotten that England Women will have their work cut out against a tough Germany side in Sunday's friendly.
However, neither the 55,000 crowd or the opposition fazes midfielder Jill Scott, who played in some of the biggest women’s games staged in this country when Team GB took part in the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“Some of us played in those Team GB matches,” said the 27-year-old Manchester City player, who has 75 caps to her name. “When there were 60,000, 70,000 [at Wembley] we knew then that people wanted a taste of the Olympics. It wasn’t purely about women’s football. This is all women’s football fans who have bought tickets.
“We were asked, ‘Did we want to play at Wembley?’ when they didn’t think they’d sell enough tickets. The girls all said, ‘Yeah, we do’. We’ve all been surprised by how many tickets have been sold. It’s really exciting.”
There is no doubt that Germany will provide a stern test for Mark Sampson’s team. The visitors have won seven out of the last eight Women’s European Championships, as well as two of the last three Women’s World Cups.
However, Scott knows that if England are to stand a chance at next year’s World Cup in Canada then they will have to test themselves against the very best.
“It’s good to play against the best teams, and have the best players on show,” she said. “When we’re beating Montenegro 9-0, people are looking at it and questioning the ability of the opposition. This will be a proper spectacle. We will be up against the best in the world.”
One of Scott’s team-mates, Demi Stokes, has already experienced just how big the women’s game can be from her time playing American college soccer for South Florida Bulls. Stokes is a left-winger who plays her football in South Florida in America’s college leagues.
The women’s game is massive over there and the Wembley fixture will be televised live on Fox Sports. “This game is huge,” said Stokes, who hails from South Shields. “People in the States are talking about it. They’ve seen it advertised. They’re behind us and supporting us. This is an important match, for England yes, but for the women’s game too.
“Germany are a tough team, though. They’ve got talented, athletic players. It will be a real challenge.”
There may also be some sense that the Wembley game is going some way to righting a great historical injustice. On Boxing Day 1920 a team called Dick, Kerr’s Ladies [sic] ran out at Goodison Park for a match against St Helen’s Ladies in front of 53,000 people.
Within a year the Football Association had banned women’s football from being played at any ground within its leagues. Apparently, women weren’t physically able to play football. In fact, the popularity of women’s football was threatening the men’s game. Dick, Kerr’s were often attracting larger crowds than the men. The ban set the game back whole generations.
England will have a chance to prove what the crowds have been missing.Reuse content