What a nice new stadium in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, built recently on the banks of the River Don and a couple of a hundred metres from the spanking newly refurnished Rotherham Central station.
Opened this season for Rotherham United, NEW YORK STADIUM is the new home of The Millers after three seasons in the wilderness at Sheffield's Don Valley athletics stadium after they left Millmoor only 500 metres from their new home.
The occasion this Sunday afternoon was England v Canada, a friendly women's international, with both nations in the top 10 of FIFA rankings. The Three Lionesses had recently beaten Canada in the Cyprus Cup final 1-0, and are preparing for this summers UEFA Finals in Sweden. First up is Spain in Linkoping on July 12th. Canada won the bronze medal at last summer's Olympic tournament at Wembley Stadium. www.uefa.com
Outside was a hive of activity as The Girls football initiative had a booth, a sign-up table for the new WSL the F.A.'s new Womens Super League and interactive competitions for the kids. ROARY, PAWS and MANE were three mascots who along with BERRY, the F.A. Mascot Lioness were busy having their photos taken with the young fans. Tickets were very reasonable, starting at £2.50 for concessions in order to encourage a decent attendance. www.thefa.com
We had a few laughs when the South Yorkshire Police Band marched onto the pitch, to be soaked by the suddenly appearing underground sprinklers, while the two teams warmed up well away from the water.
The new WSL will have live covereage every Tuesday evening during this summer domestic season, with the 8 teams players wages subsidised by the Football Associatio:. Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Doncaster Rovers Belles, Birmingham City, Everton. Lincoln Ladies, Bristol Academy
In 2014 the F.A. intend to have FAWL 1 and FAWL 2, with the following clubs applying and have already submitted applications: Arsenal, Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Brighton & Hove Albion, Bristol Academy, Charlton Athletic, Chelsea, Colchester United, Coventry City, Derby County, Doncaster Rovers Belles, Durham, Everton, Gillingham, Keynshaw Town, Leeds United, Leicester City, Lincoln, Liverpool, London Bees(Barnet), Manchester City, Millwall Lionesses, Milton Keynes Dons, Nottingham Forest, Oxford United, Portsmouth, Reading, Sheffield, Stoke City, Sunderland, Watford, West Ham United, Yeovil Town.
The 2013 FA Womens Cup Final will take place just 16 miles from Rotherham, at Doncaster Rovers Belles Keepmoat Stadium on Sunday 26th May. Meanwhile the UEFA Women's Champions League Final will be at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge on Thursday 23rd May.(tickets from a fiver.)
Anyway, back to the game. It wasn't a classic by any means but the 6,000 fans had a great afternoon out, aided by the six man England Brass Band at the top of the East Stand. Rachel Yankey was playing her 125th international match for England, equaling that of goalkeeper Peter Shilton. She will surely break the record this summer in Sweden. For the Cannucks. Diane Matheson of the Washington Spirit was playing in her 150th international match.
We had to wait until added time for the only goal of the match from Ellen White's head from Fara Williams past goalie Erin McLeod, so Hope Powell's ladies are looking positive three months before Sweden. Canada's coach since 2011 is John Herdman is from Durham in England's North-East. He led them to the gold medal at the Pan-Am Games in Mexico in 2011 and bronze in London. Previously he had taken The Football Ferns of New Zealand to two World Cups and the Beijing and London Olympics.