Life’s a beach for the Lionesses! England’s football stars enjoy the sun before the biggest game of their lives in tomorrow’s World Cup final
- The Lionesses are preparing for the World Cup final against Spain on Sunday
The Lionesses have been soaking up the sun Down Under as they prepare for the biggest game of their lives in tomorrow’s World Cup final against Spain.
It is the first time the England senior women’s team has reached a World Cup final, although many of the current squad were crowned Euros champions at Wembley Stadium in July 2022.
England and Manchester City star Laura Coombs gave fans a glimpse of how the Lionesses are relaxing between Sarina Wiegman’s taxing training sessions in the glorious Australia sunshine.
The midfielder, who assisted one of England’s six goals against China in the group stages, posted a video of the sun shimmering on the ocean as the Lionesses enjoyed some well-earned downtime on the beach in Terrigal where they have been based.
The 32-year-old, who has featured for the Lionesses in two out of their six games, quipped: ‘Last morning in Terrigal. Fair to say Aus winters are better than our summers.’
But away from the beach, the Lionesses have been pictured being put through their paces by Wiegman – who has reached four major finals in a row and is the first coach to take two countries to a World Cup final, having led the Netherlands there in 2019.
England’s Chloe Kelly applied suncream as the Lionesses prepare for the biggest game of their lives
England’s Lucy Bronze was in good spirits ahead of the Lionesses’ first ever World Cup final tomorrow
England star Lauren James was spotted in training as she fights for a place in the starting eleven having missed two games through suspension
England and Manchester City star Laura Coombs gave fans a glimpse of how the Lionesses are relaxing between Sarina Wiegman’s taxing training sessions in the glorious Australia sunshine
England star Chloe Kelly – whose emphatic penalty against Nigeria sent the Lionesses roaring into the semi-finals – was playfully given a hand in applying sun cream as the squad trained in the blistering heat.
READ MORE: Where’s Prince William? Royal is keeping a low profile as row deepens over decision to snub Lionesses’ World Cup final in favour of a family holiday
Meanwhile Lauren James was also spotted as she fights for a place in the starting eleven after missing the quarter-final and semi-final through suspension after stamping on Nigeria’s Michelle Alozie.
The Lionesses squad seemed in good spirits as they trained under blue skies at their World Cup base while surrounded by palm trees. Wiegman was seen addressing the group in a circle, no doubt delivering the final key tactical messages to her side.
They come into the final having seen of co-hosts Australia 3-1 in the semi-final thanks to clinical finishes from Ella Toone, Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo.
All eyes will be on the Lionesses as they represent England in the country’s first World Cup final since 1966. The momentous occasion has led to questions being asked as to why Prince William, the president of the Football Association, has snubbed the final in favour of a family holiday.
Speaking ahead of the final, England captain Millie Bright told reporters: ‘It’s an honour and a dream to come true to lead the girls out, but ultimately it’s the team.’
Elsewhere, councils and police are being urged to ‘turn a blind eye’ to pubs opening early for tomorrow’s final.
Chloe Kelly gets a helping hand as she applies suncream ahead of England’s final preparations
England’s Rachel Daly and Lauren Hemp (R) are put through their paces as the Lionesses prepare to face Spain in tomorrow’s final
The England players huddle at a training session at the Central Coast Stadium, surrounded by palm trees
MPs have called on the authorities to ignore instances of pubs serving outside of their usual Sunday hours so that fans back home can have a drink during the game
Alessia Russo works hard during England’s training session on the eve of the World Cup final
MPs have called on the authorities to ignore instances of pubs serving outside of their usual Sunday hours, after warnings that licensing rules mean leave some venues unable to serve pints or open early for excited fans on the day.
Original Lioness says her team ‘dreamed of this moment’
Former Lioness Mary Blake, 69, won a bronze medal for an England Ladies team in 1969 during the very first women’s European Championship in Italy.
The records are yet to officially recognise the team, but Ms Blake said the squad she was a member of is ‘still part of the history’ of the Lionesses.
Speaking about England’s success in the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, she said: ‘We’re all elated, phenomenal isn’t it?
‘We’ve waited a long time and we’re getting it all now in the last two years.
‘We dreamed about things like this, that women would get paid… it’s just come such a long way in the last few years really.
‘It’s incredible really, I can’t wait for them to win.’
Asked if she had a message for the Lionesses ahead of Sunday’s crunch match with Spain, Ms Blake – who hopes to one day meet the squad – said: ‘They’ve done amazing and it’s everything we hoped would be achieved for women’s football even though it was 50 years ago.
‘We’ve all dreamed about this moment, even the European Cup, to win that was the start really, just the icing on the cake.
‘I hoped I would see the day, and to happen in my lifetime… is even better, so hopefully I’ll see it on Sunday.
‘I can’t wait to see them lifting that trophy on Sunday – I’ll probably cry in jubilation.
‘I hope so anyway – there’s nothing stopping them from being able to do it, and I wish them all the best, and I shall be rooting for them on Sunday.’
In Cornwall, the local council and police have already announced they will not take enforcement action for early opening during the big match.
An average of 4.6 million people tuned in on a working day to watch the Lionesses progress to their first ever World Cup final with the win being the most-watched game of the tournament so far.
Current regulations mean the sale of alcohol is widely prohibited before 10am on Sunday, but venues such as pubs also have specific hours they can stay open and serve alcohol depending on individual licences.
A blanket change to licensing hours across England would require the approval of Parliament, which is not currently sitting as it is the summer recess – and demands for an emergency recall to Westminster have been dismissed.
Conservative MP Sir Michael Fabricant has instead suggested his local police force ‘turn a blind eye’ to any pubs opening early for Sunday’s World Cup final.
In a letter to Staffordshire Police Chief Constable Chris Noble and Staffordshire police and fire commissioner Ben Adams, the Lichfield MP wrote: ‘As you know, the Women’s World Cup Final will be held at 11am (BST) on Sunday.
‘I think it would be a marvellous gesture if pubs could be allowed to open early and, although this would be contrary to the law, the police might turn a blind eye on this one occasion only.’
Sir Michael said in a statement: ‘I think now is the time for the police to show discretion to allow pubs and other venues to open early allowing people to cheer on our wonderful Lionesses in the company of others. I hope other police forces might show similar flexibility too – on this particular Sunday.’
Labour shadow minister Stephen Morgan agreed pubs should be given flexibility with their Sunday hours.
‘I think they’ve got to be flexible, let’s be sensible. I think it makes sense,’ he told Times Radio.
Communities Secretary Michael Gove wrote to councils on Thursday, asking them to do everything they can to help venues seeking to extend their hours for the game.
In response, Cornwall Council and Cornwall and Devon Police have confirmed they will not be enforcing licence conditions for pubs who open earlier than they would usually be allowed.
England’s head coach Sarina Wiegman and captain Millie Bright (L) give a press conference at Stadium Australia in Sydney on August 19.Bright said it was an ‘honour’ to lead the Lionesses out
Lauren James (C) is in contention to start having had a stellar World Cup campaign before her suspension
Sarina Wiegman was all smiles as she put her side through their paces on the eve of the World Cup final
The stage awaits: England will be hoping they can be crowned world champions at Stadium Australia (pictured)
Linda Taylor, leader of Cornwall Council, said: ‘Although it is too late to issue licences to allow our pubs and clubs to open, this is a sensible way forward, ensuring their businesses can benefit from the occasion, and so people can come together to enjoy the match together. I am delighted the police are supporting this move as well.’
One publican in Stoke on Trent described Mr Gove’s letter to councils as ‘too little too late’.
Victoria Mavin, who runs The Bellringer pub in Stoke-on-Trent, also told the PA News Agency: ‘Historically the Government have made allowances for moments in history where they have relaxed licencing law – they have amended slightly, there is a blanket rule,’ she said.
‘If this isn’t a moment in history then I don’t know what is.’
Ms Mavin told the PA news agency allowances were made in the early 2000s for the Men’s World Cup, for the jubilee and for the coronation.
She added: ‘From my point of view you can’t help thinking that had it been a Men’s World Cup that somebody somewhere would have already noticed that actually these were the timings of it, this is what we could potentially put in place.
‘It’s just a shame that we’re at the 11th hour and only now we’re talking about it.’
The Home Office has written to police chiefs encouraging them to work with councils to ensure as many venues as possible can open.
Prince William has come under fire for choosing a family holiday over England’s World Cup final. Pictured: Sarina Wiegman smiled as she spoke to the Prince only a month ahead of the team’s historic win against Germany in 2022
Most pubs are likely to be unable to serve alcohol until 11am, and are unlikely to have had time for a temporary event notice (TEN) allowing to vary their hours to be processed.
A spokesperson for the Local Government Association said: ‘Councils up and down the country are flying flags, lighting up buildings and hosting free screenings of the game on Sunday to mark this historic and exciting occasion.
‘Licensing teams are working hard to ensure temporary event notices that were submitted with the legally required amount of notice are processed as efficiently as possible, but councils can only work within the existing law.’
James Cleverly, the Foreign Secretary, has meanwhile announced he will attend the match in Australia on Sunday alongside Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer.
‘All eyes are on Sydney this Sunday,’ he said ahead of the final.
‘This is an amazing moment to celebrate the very best of women’s international sport with Australia and New Zealand as our brilliant tournament hosts.
‘Everyone back home is behind the Lionesses for their first appearance ever in a World Cup final, and I will be there in person to cheer them on.’
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