‘The women are smashing it!’ England fans at home react to World Cup drama

A mass of England fans in Battersea Park, London., watching England

The dream for England is over, just as the sun sets on Battersea Park.

Under a cloud of disappointment, England fans who’ve been glued to the big screen for 90 minutes file home, swigging the last of their beers.

It’s been quite a night.

There were England shirts, men in suits, well-behaved dogs, women with St George’s flags painted on their faces and the occasional American.

When Christen Press scored the opening goal, you saw just how outnumbered the US was at the gathering in the park – only five people got to their feet, arms aloft, cheering on their countrywomen.

England’s fans stayed seated on their picnic rugs and deckchairs – a gulp and a glance across at a friend.

But when Ellen White fired in England’s first, the crowd were on their feet – screaming, cheering and hugging one another.

The warm night, filled with expectation and hope, was a reminder of last summer’s men’s World Cup for many.

Ben Bezuidenhoit, a student from Essex, wrapped in his England flag recycled from last year, has been enjoying England’s success.

“The men scrape through on penalties but the women are smashing it,” he says.

Image caption Ben Bezuidenhoit and Juliet Coutts agreed that England’s success story up to the semis had been a welcome break from politics on the news

Alice Delaney, a 24-year-old researcher from Lincoln, agrees.

“When you watch the men play, you expect them to lose. When the women play you feel nervous because you know they could win.”

There was a bigger take-up in Alice’s work sweepstake for this World Cup, than for last year’s. “It’s probably because we’ve been going on about it so much,” she jokes.

Image caption There were some nervous smiles before the game kicked off

But people are divided about whether World Cup fever really has gripped the country.

Juliet Coutts, another UCL student, is not convinced. “It feels like it’s been whipped up by the media,” she says.

But Mr Bezuidenhoit says news of England’s success had made a welcome break from all the political stories and the “B-word” that’s dominated news headlines for so long.

Image caption Connor Netter, pictured right, was confident the US could win

When the US’s Alex Morgan clinches another, Connor Netter, 20, who’s on an eight-week internship from Los Angeles, is feeling confident.

“I like our chances,” he says, grinning from ear to ear.

He’s got caught up in the fans’ passion for the game. Back home, he’s more into American football and basketball – and definitely not men’s football.

“Men in the US are so bad. The women’s team are killing the men in terms of support,” he added.

“There’s a lot of interest in the women’s game back home – people are definitely respecting the game more and there’s a real hype.”

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Media captionEllen White has a goal ruled out by VAR for offside

When the final whistle blows, there’s a smattering of applause.

“Come on, Sweden,” shouts one lone voice. The team will take on the Netherlands in less than 24 hours for a place to play the US in the final on Sunday.

Mr Netter and his friends from Ohio State University are very happy.

As expected? “You’ve got to be confident,” he says, still grinning.



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