DOMINIC KING: The atmosphere of England’s Euro 2022 final victory over Germany has given confidence
DOMINIC KING: After the yobs destroyed the men’s final last year, the atmosphere at Wembley for England’s Euro 2022 triumph over Germany has boosted confidence. It was everything a sporting occasion should be
- The Trafalgar Square fan park was a haven of optimism and hope for the Euro final
- The tournament served as a reminder of how great sporting occasions can be
- It was a welcome reminder after disgraceful behavior at last year’s Euros
The difference of a year makes. 12 months ago, on this corner of Leicester Square, a man was bent over with a flare positioned in a part of his body that a flare should never have been.
On what was supposed to be the biggest day in English football since 1966, the rancid behavior of thousands – whose actions ranged from senseless to violent – shamed and turned England v Italy into an occasion that is now regarded only with disgust.
This time, however, it’s different. Leicester Square is tranquil, with only a few football shirts in sight. Around the corner from Trafalgar Square, the fan park that gave police such heartaches in 2021 is a haven of optimism and hope.
The Lionesses’ victory at Euro 2022 was a reminder of just how big sporting occasions can be
The fan parks set up for Euro 2022 were a far cry from the backstage of the men’s tournament
England fans have traveled far and wide to be here and watch their team compete
England fans have traveled far and wide to be here, including Lizzie Barclay, who lives in Amsterdam. She’s with her partner Cat McPhee and her friends Amy Irvine and Katie and Megan Metcalfe Roberts and she wants to make an important point.
“It’s not just a celebration of women’s football, it’s a celebration of English football,” she said. “Everyone is so grateful to this team. It might never happen again and that’s something for everyone. It’s a moment in history, isn’t it?
When the story showed up in 2021, the event was shipwrecked. No one who witnessed the clash between England and Italy will forget the Neanderthal and xenophobic chants in the tube or the shame of Wembley Way.
Full cans of beer were hurled at full force across the Sea of Humanity. The cocaine was taken openly, the fences were used as urinals, and the police stood there helplessly, unable to tell the difference.
No one who witnessed the clash between England and Italy will forget the shame of Wembley Way
The worst would follow, when thousands of ticketless thugs forced their way into the stadium
The worst would follow, when thousands of ticketless thugs forced their way into the stadium, squeezing like rats through any openings they could find. Many infiltrated the area where the families of England players were supposed to be seated and wreaked havoc.
Leaving Wembley that night, the smell of stale beer was putrid and the crunch of broken glass underfoot was sickening. Why should England ever welcome an occasion like this when people can’t be trusted to behave?
Sunday was a day to restore faith. This tournament was an outstanding success and the final was an occasion that proved to be inspiring and created memories that will last a lifetime.
Hannah Duncan, 34, a teacher from Tetbury, Gloucestershire, was on her first visit to Wembley. She bought tickets for this final 12 months ago, hoping England would go all the way.
Many have infiltrated the area where the families of England players were supposed to be seated
England’s Euro win has captured the imagination of women and girls across England
She captured the atmosphere when she said, “It feels like a moment in time. You look around and see many children. The atmosphere is great. Small children can come and their parents know that there is no danger that they will see things that they shouldn’t see in terms of problems. It feels like the Olympics. It’s something we can all be proud of.
She had come with Siobhan Haynes, 35, a physical education teacher from Bristol, who said: “Interest in this game is growing as the quality of the sport continues to rise.” Before, players had to have jobs and try to train, but you can see how much things have improved.
“Women’s football is much more interesting to watch than men’s football because this game is very technical and intense. What we see here is how football was and we are all here just to enjoy the game. ‘
And what a game they enjoyed. Competitive, tense and full of drama with a conclusion that created history. For once, it was England who held the trophy.
It was everything a sporting occasion should be. Hopefully there will be many more.
It was everything a sporting occasion should be. Hopefully there will be many more