The Olympic semi-final line-up was certainly a very attractive one, somewhat making up for Team GB’s absence from the last four.
I was all geared up for the first match, telly on, webpage open for typing report, another for downloading Gavin Ellis’s pics for editing and a third for uploading them to our site. But a showjumping over-run just kept going, even through all the waffle and lack of action before the lengthy medal ceremony and multiple celebratory rides around the arena. It all sadly reminded me of waiting for the midweek evening football highlights in the 1970s, wishing there’d be just the one clear round in the showjumping and therefore no delays to the TV schedule.
Now, I’ll have to admit to being something of a ‘football fundamentalist’ (to coin a term) at times. All well and good that people get out and practice their chosen sport(s) and get rewarded for it, but come on, we are talking about The Beautfiul Game here and therefore this must take priority. I say this kind of jokingly but in my more intolerant moments, I’d like to see rugby grounds requisitioned and used for football instead. 😉
Well anyway, not much left of the first half by the time the France v Japan tie was on TV but the second half became more and more frantic, plenty of thrills and spills. Who could have expected that the evening’s entertainment was yet to far surpass even this ‘edge of the seat’ attraction.
Now, the all-North Americas clash was enticing to say the least. We’d seen at close hand how Canada had the power up front to worry any team and it would have been nice to perhaps have a new winner of Olympic gold but irrespective of this, it was sure best for a great game of soccer that the Canadians scored first.
Not only that but the game proceded to go crazy with excitement, the lead unable to be held onto like the proverbial hot potato. Disbelief grew as the Canucks, not once but twice, replied to American equalisers. A horror injury and ‘look away now’ slow-mo appeared bad for the Canucks, with this their second player requiring treatment in a minute. However, like a bionic woman she was not only back on her feet but right back in the action!
A bigger blow to the underdogs however would be the harsh penalty decision 12 minutes from time, whose conversion eventually forced the extra 30 minutes. But both sides continued to fashion chances, the USA were denied by the bar and it all looked headed for a first ever penalty shoot-out in an Olympic women’s tie.
That would have been a cruel way to determine the winners but as it happened, fate was little more compassionate toward John Herdman’s charges, as they eventually went behind with only 30 seconds or so of stoppage-time remaining.
There was no coming back from that and hopefully for the women’s game in general there will be no going back after such a stunning display, with countless new fans potentially won over and a whole new level of appreciation for, and knowledge of, the game and its stars.
Getting off to bed as soon as I’d posted the report and pics online, sleep wasn’t readily forthcoming as my mind was still racing from the match. Can you imagine what it must’ve been like for the players!? Even upon waking early in the morning, there the match memories were again, bouncing around my brain like a keepy-up.
It was hard to put into words, such over-stimulation through an absolute delight of a game. It almost felt as if new terms of astonishment needed to be conjured up in order to do the match justice. Maybe ‘Oh my Bobby Charltons’ or ‘Johann dragback Cruyff”. Or maybe I just need my mind to calm down and for a better night’s sleep!
How convenient though that all this well-watched, intense and highly-regarded drama (with the medal matches still to come) is followed by the resumption of the WSL and the new campaign in the Premier League, not forgetting all the Combos, Regionals, Counties and Girls’ Leagues in the weeks to follow. It offers the biggest and best chance there will ever be to flood the game with new supporters, players, coaches, sponsors and media coverage.
Let’s make it work – it could be now or never!
Pics by Gavin Ellis/tgsphoto.co.uk
SHE KICKS at the Olympics
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