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Published 06 October 2022 5 min read
England Women's Senior Team

'Without you, we wouldn't be here'

Written by:

Nicholas Veevers

Goalkeepers Mary Earps and Sue Whyatt discuss the 50th anniversary of England Women ahead of Wembley homecoming for the first-ever team and the current squad
“When you think of that save of Mary’s in the Spain game, if that had gone in then it might have been a different story…it was one of my moments of the tournament.”

The words of Sue Whyatt, who was a goalkeeper in the England Women’s squad for their first international match back in 1972 and was also a guest of the current Lionesses squad at their base this week ahead of the game with USA.

With the match at Wembley dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the England Women’s team, Sue was among a group of previous players invited to watch Sarina Wiegman’s team in training before spending some time together with the current squad.

“It’s lovely to get that recognition and I’m very pleased with how it’s gone…it’s been fifty years of hurt but now that’s gone,” added Whyatt, who was only 17 when she travelled with that first England squad for the game against Scotland on 18 November 1972

“It's been great to see how the women’s game has developed over the last few years into what it is now, and this team is just phenomenal.

“Sarina’s done a fabulous job in keeping them all together and they’re such a tight team.

“I had a word with Mary Earps and Ellie Roebuck and it was great. Goalkeepers can get forgotten a little bit and it tends to be the strikers who get the glory.
A meeting of past and present as some of England Women's former players were invited to training on Tuesday
A meeting of past and present as some of England Women's former players were invited to training on Tuesday
“But not with this team as they all seem so together, playing for each other and appreciating each other’s contribution to the matches.”

And for current number one Earps, it was just as much an honour for her to have met some of the players who went before, with over 150 of them attending the game at Wembley where they’ll be honoured in front of a sell-out crowd.

“It’s nice to hear she picked out that moment, it’s really humbling and I’m just happy if there’s any moments that really stand out,” said the Manchester United ace.

“I think the goalkeeper’s union always like to look out for each other, but it’s all about the team really and if I can play a part in that, I’m happy with that.

“It was great to meet the legends and talk about some of our shared experiences

“They were quite excited to come in, meet us and celebrate with us as well which I think is a big thing.

“They’ve all been there before and one of them said to me earlier about how we all did so well and thanking us for what we’ve done.

“My response to that was that without you, we wouldn’t be here, so thank-you to you for doing what you did when there weren’t as many eyes watching.

“Without that, we probably wouldn’t be here now.”
Sue, who played for Macclesfield Ladies at the time of her call-up to Eric Worthington’s squad, and her ’72 teammates will all receive a bespoke England cap on Friday.

And while she admits she ‘can still dive, but not get up as quickly’ today, when she casts her mind back to that night at the Ravenscraig Stadium in Greenock, it’s certainly going to be a different scene to what they’ll experience at Wembley.

“I just remember the pitch being awful,” added Sue. “It was freezing and I don’t think they’d even play on it today.

“Of course, we played and were 2-0 down at half time, but when we came back and scored that winner, what a memory.

“Janet Bagguley, Jeannie Allott and I were the three troublemakers on that trip, mainly because we were so young at the time.

“Jeannie was 15, I was 16 and Janet was 17, and we were rascals, I remember we crept out a couple of times through the hotel fire escape.

“We’re looking forward to getting back together this weekend and we’re planning to paint the town red on Saturday.

“I’ve previously given the FA stick for not recognising us, but you know what, they’ve made up for it and it’s been wonderful today and will hopefully be even better on Friday.”
Janet Bagguley, a member of the England team from 1972, chats to Lucy Bronze and Katie Zelem
Janet Bagguley, a member of the England team from 1972, chats to Lucy Bronze and Katie Zelem
For Earps, she’s now focused on this month’s games, with a trip to Brighton to face Czech Republic after the USA clash.

But she’s also looking forward to seeing some of that team of ’72 taking in the Wembley atmosphere ahead of the game.

“We’re just hoping it’s going to be an incredible game with two fantastic teams going up against each other,” she said.

“But I just hope the legends can have a fantastic day and are able to enjoy it and feel really special and welcome.

“They should be celebrated and a part of our history. It’s really special for us to now be able to see our own names etched into history and we can look at that with pride.”