Shropshire Star

County ready to roar on Lionesses as excitement builds for England's World Cup final

Salopian football fans are confident that England's girls will run the world when they go hunting for more silverware Down Under.

At Park House Hotel, front row from left: Sophie Lewis, 13, Poppy Hobbs, eight, Freya Stokes, 13, Lottie Doody-Winzer, six, Miela Warner, seven, Freya Neville, 12. Back: Ellah-Rose Hobbs, 11, Tiayana Tabbie, 10, Ellie Dowell, 12, and Jade Salt, 10

The Lionesses face Spain in the Women's World Cup final tomorrow in Sydney, Australia, and they will be roared on by fans throughout Shropshire.

Many pubs are opening their doors early to welcome excited supporters, hopeful of seeing Sarina Wiegman's side emerge victorious after already winning the Women's European Championships last year.

Shifnal Girls Football Club are preparing to pack into the town's Park House Hotel to gather around the big screen.

Club chairman Kieran Mountford said the team's "football mad" players are very optimistic about England's chances.

"Our girls are all confident England will win," he said. "When I run the Wildcats sessions I ask them for score predictions at the start and they all say an England win. They're mad for it. For some of them it's their first World Cup they've witnessed. The Euros was big, but the World Cup is always a bit more special.

He added: "The plan is that we'll be all together to hopefully see them win it. The club has 13 teams and just over 200 girls."

The Lionesses have faced their challenges in this tournament, with key players missing through injury and suspension. But they have found a way to make the final, defeating Australia in the semi-final with goals from Ella Toone, Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo.

Kieran believes the success of the England team has help propel the women's and girl's game forward in recent years.

"It really helps when you're doing coaching sessions, because they know who all the players are. It used to be you'd say 'do a step-over like Ronaldo', but now you can say that about Russo.

"We've had a lot more England shirts at training in the last couple of weeks.

He added: "It's been massive. I've been coaching girls for about 11 years now. When I started it was double age groups, now there are teams for every year group.

"We've gone from one team to 13 teams, aged from six to 18. More and more girls want to play.

"I also work in a primary school and it's nice to see that the boys know who all the women's players are as well. There has been a massive change. The women's game is now respected.

"I heard a statement the other day saying the last time England won the World Cup (the men in 1966), women's football wasn't even allowed to be played. It just goes to show how much things have changed."

Elsewhere, Shrewsbury Up and Comers are inviting people to head to the Salop Unison to watch its women's team train and tuck into a bacon bap before watching the England match at the club.

Junior football club Bridgnorth Spartans, which has also introduced its first men's senior team this season, will be at The Crown pub in the town, cheering on England.