It’s been about 24 hours since the England v Nigeria game. I had to step back and let the dust settle. Also, as an Arsenal sufferer and a Lionesses supporter I’d had a very stressful Sunday night/Monday morning. Stressful to the point I had to remove my Apple watch because every 10 mins it kept informing me my heart rate was over 120 for the past 10 minutes. You can’t even have a heart attack or stroke in peace these days. However now the dust has settled and my pulse has returned to normal…. What the fuck!?
First, I feel I need to go back a match to England v China. Let’s start with the Ref shall we. Now, I want to know if she had a little dare going with her mates. I remember back in the day if me or any of my friends were going to be on TV or anything my mates would say stupid shit like “When you’re on camera scratch your nose twice” or if anyone had to speak say a particular word or sentence, basically do something dumb and they would be at home watching and laughing, of which you’d hear about later. So my thing with this Ref was, did one of her friends say “Tell us you’re obsessed with Lucy Bronze without telling us you’re obsessed with Lucy Bronze” and she said “Hold my beer.” She had a vendetta. It was hard to believe it wasn’t personal. Like, Lucy what did you do to this woman to make her hate you? It started with that ridiculous offside call which legitimately made me question my knowledge of the offside rule. I’ve watched football for almost 40 years. I’ve played football. I’ve helped coach football. I thought I knew the rules pretty well but I was baffed. I still am. I need it broken down for me with explanations, pictures, a white board, venn diagrams, all of that because I saw it happen, I even watched the whole game back TWICE (because I’m an overthinker and can’t sleep until I figure out shit I don’t understand) and I still don’t think it was an offside but okay. I’m not the accredited referee here, I trust that trained professionals know their job and it is what it is. Do I think LJ was robbed of a hatrick? Most certainly but I’m not the professional adjudicator so there we go. Then, as if she wasn’t done with the fuckery she fires shots on LB AGAIN with the yellow card and penalty decision. It was a ridiculous call. What was LB supposed to do? She was actively moving her arms behind her, it was not an intentional handball. Fine, handball in the box give the pen but my girl went back and watched the VAR so she saw the whole situation and still went with a yellow. The ref was a champion dickhead. I felt bad for LB, the calls against her were not warranted and then on the flipside LJ had an absolute blinder of a game. Obviously a 6-1 win, I was buzzin. LJ smashed it but the whole situation with Lucy Bronze definitely left a bad taste in my mouth. It just seemed unfair and unnecessary.
So we progress to the Top 16 and are up against Nigeria. Firstly, Keria’s back - whoop whoop! Again, like with Haiti, Nigeria was not to be underestimated. I was texting in the group chat with a few of my boys during the game (while I was having my palpitations… priorities, clearly lol) And I made a Fall Guys joke analogy that everyone thought was funny and understood what I meant straight away. We were talking about the game being physical and a fair bit of contact and I said “If this match was a game of Fall Guys, Nigeria would be the grabby bastards” If you’ve never played Fall Guys or even know what Fall Guys is this would make no sense but in the game you’re trying to reach a goal and often other players will just grab you, sometimes to impede your progress but more time just to annoy you (my Fall Guys squad refer to the people who go around grabbing and pulling you back as the grabby bastards) But that’s how it felt a lot of the time, a lot of grabbing and pulling back. I’m not saying England didn’t reciprocate but it just felt like Nigeria were very handsy. Which brings me to Lauren James’ red card…
Was Lauren James wrong for what she did? Sure. Did she deserve a red card? Sure. Would 21 year old me have done the same? Honestly, 21 year old me would have probably done worse. I’m not saying that as a good thing or to brag, I’m saying that because at 21 we as humans are still growing emotionally and are very reactionary. I don’t know Lauren James but from what I’ve seen and heard of her, we seem kinda similar. She seems kinda quiet, introverted, super chill… but yknow what happens when you keep poking super chill people? We switch. You know what happens when you annoy quiet or introverted people? We lash out, not verbally but physically. I’m not saying it’s right and I’m not justifying her actions but people on socials be acting like they’ve never been young and never made a mistake in their life. They just came out the womb as fully fledged grown adults with responsibilities, who never made a mistake. Some people are assholes. And the thing is, if LJ is like me fuck the social media noise, she’d be so mad at herself about this whole situation. Not just about the action itself, because obviously in retrospect she’s gonna be like “Yeh, that was dumb” but I’m talking about everything that goes along with it - the feeling of letting down your teammates, letting down young fans who see you as a role model, letting down your family or on the extreme (unlikely) end of the spectrum, potentially losing sponsors… That is the shit that’s regrettable and that’s the shit, if I was in a similar position, would be playing over in my head.
I’ve seen a few comments here and there basically saying it took her 24 hours to apologise and she only did it because Michelle Alozie said something first but these people riding in on the back of their opinions don’t have a scooby about what is going on behind the scenes. They don’t know what advice LJ’s been given about putting out a public apology, they don’t know if she’d already spoken to Alozie after the match face to face, basically they don’t know shit. Once again hype keyboard warriors are acting like they were there, acting like they know what it’s like to be one of the youngest players on the squad, arguably with a lot on her shoulders (from all the carrying of the team she’s been doing… I joke I joke, I kid I kid! It’s a team effort, I know!), first world cup… there are a lot of factors. Her passion for the game and emotions running high caused her to lash out in a silly way but she’ll learn from this moment and grow from it. It will undoubtedly light a fire in her belly to be better and do better next time. It’s a learning curve, nobody’s perfect.
Also, come on it seems super out of character for LJ to act that way let’s be honest. We all know it wasn’t a premeditated act of maliciousness. She didn’t go into the match planning to step on anyone. She was reactionary. A moment of madness as it were. Also, she doesn’t seem like a scrapper. I mean if I had to choose a Lioness to back me in a fight, I don’t think LJ would even make my Top 10 to throw hands, I’ll be honest. LJ looks to type to say “This is long” and bounce ie She looks smart.
Again there were a few bookey calls from the Ref in this match too, thankfully none directly aimed at LB this time. The first came in the form of the retracted penalty call when Rachel Daly was taken down in the box. Again, Ref went and watched the VAR and came back like “No penalty”. Bitch, what did you see that we didn’t!? Like do you have the directors cut with all the deleted scenes? What are you seeing!? From what I saw, it was a flagrant foul. If that had been anywhere else on the pitch a free kick would have been called. It happened in the box so why no penalty? Again, bring back the whiteboard and venn diagrams from the China game because I need it broken down for me. This sheggery is why I felt no kinda way when Lucy Bronze made a very foul-like, foul-adjacent… fuck it, it was a foul, call a spade a spade innit, but the Ref either didn’t notice or didn’t call it and I just feel that was the universe restoring the balance from the China game and also for disallowing Daly’s earlier in the game. The universe said “Hey Lucy Bronze, you had a real shitter last game. You’re a real one, here have this on us.” And behold, the karma. It could have been a completely different story if a penalty was given to Nigeria but thankfully the powers that be fuck with Lucy Bronze and it went by unnoticed.
And then there were penalties.
If I was having a heart attack earlier in the game I needed medical assistance by the time penalties came around. The group chat was hotting up, mostly with us all sharing how sick we felt and blood pressure and pulses through the roof. My brother and Mum had joined me by the time penalties were starting and I literally had to go out in the garden for air. If the Finalissima taught me anything it was that I’m not built to watch penalties. Standing in Wembley, nauseous as hell and covering my eyes like a little bitch… lol This time substantially less people but equally as ill-equipped to deal. Also, the fact I had gone through the same fucking palarva a few hours earlier watching Arsenal, it was too much. This is supposed to be fun!
Also, please pause for a moment of appreciation for the legend that is Mary Earps. She is having an absolute blinder of a tournament! Nike must be regretting not selling her shirt now huh?
So going forward? We’re yet to find out how long LJ’s match ban will be but if we go by the precedent that has been set this World Cup, it’s looking like the rest of the tournament. Obviously I want the Lionesses to smash it and go all the way and I honestly think it’s possible. I’d absolutely love to see Lucy Bronze match Jill Scott’s record for most World Cup appearances, especially 1. As this could potentially be her last World Cup but 2. That would mean we made the final and what a time to match the record. Also, I’m going to go out on a limb and say I reckon LB is going to score in the next game against Colombia. She has scored in the quarter final of the last 2 World Cups and third time’s a charm right?