Date: 31 July 2022
Competition: Women’s European Championship Final 2022
Result: England 2 – 1 Germany (After Extra Time)
Tickets: £15 (adult, top tier, bought a year in advance)
Attendance: 87,192 (record for any European Championship Final, men or women)
Game/ Experience Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (off the charts)
The Game: The women’s Euros 2022 in England felt like a seminal moment in women’s football to me. The quality of games was outstanding, and England’s progress, as both hosts and my own country, was compelling. I think the 8-0 hammering of Norway in the group stages – which I missed live, but absolutely devoured later – was probably the point it became completely unmissable to me.
As it happened, I had bought a ticket to the final a year in advance on the off chance England progressed, in part because they were so crazily cheap for what they were (£15 for a ticket is less than I pay to see an average League of Ireland game, which is normally €20, though of course the travel was quite a lot more).
What a game this was. Incredibly intense and full of personality: Germany as the gritty, slightly abrasive serial winners that looked like they would wear England down, and England as the slightly fragile flair side always liable to do something incredible to grab the win.
While there were quite a few chances in the first half, and an absolutely raucous atmosphere, it was in the second half that the game truly came to life. Germany were missing Alexandra Popp, their top goalscorer, who might have turned the game. Instead, England found themselves leaning on some outstanding substitutes again, with Ella Toone the first goalscorer after she latched on to a beautiful long pass and chipped the Germany goalkeeper. In the ground, it felt like that finish took forever to his the net, and the place absolutely erupted.
Germany’s equaliser was a clinical finish from a cross, so we went to extra time. Chloe Kelly’s winner, which came in the second half of extra time, was a scrambled tap in, after she had hyped the crowd just a few seconds before, and then England hung on in the corner to send Wembley into absolute raptures. One of the best atmspheres of any game I’ve been to, this was absolutely manic from start to finish, the kind of game that makes you tired watching with the sheer emotional investment of it. Both England’s goals hit the net right in front of me. Once in a lifetime.
The ground: I’m not sure what you can say about Wembley that hasn’t already been said, but it’s iconic. The walk from the station feels like an experience in itself, and being in the front row of the top tier had absolutely spectacular views. For a final, they went big, of course, the place absolutely packed on all sides and a ten minute queue to get through turnstiles and security (long for such a well-designed, modern stadium).
Last time I was here was for a friendly between England and Nigeria in 2018 that I found a bit underwhelming atmosphere wise. Today was absolute madness, a relentless noisy celebration without a hint of the agro that surrounded the men’s final a year ago. An absolute pleasure to experience.
Extras: A pre-game show and lots of fireworks. A programme that I found slightly disappointing given the scale of it, and that famous walk down Wembley Way. I didn’t glance in Box Park, which was probably an error.
Assorted asides: £15 for this level of entertainment is remarkable, and we won’t see the likes of it again at this level. Sleeping on Stansted Airport floor on a summer night is not recommended, in fact the place was so ridiculously packed it felt like a Covid hotbed. Also, charge your phone before you get there, I ended up having to charge in the bus station to access my ticket.
My totals for the year so far:
Games: 5. Home wins: 3. Draws: 0 Away wins: 2
Goals: 16. Home goals: 8. Away goals: 8. Goals per game: 3.2