England’s semi-final exit from the Women’s Football World Cup was watched by a staggering 11 million viewers.
And that was without Gary Lineker presenting it. I assume he’d add a few million on to any viewing figures given his shameful salary. Or maybe not.
Some will say those BBC figures are proof there is an audience for women’s football. I’m not convinced. It was a captive audience on Tuesday night. Emmerdale and Love Island were pretty much the only alternatives.
But I quite enjoyed the England matches, even if I was peering from behind my newspaper rather than studying the games closely.
It was however pleasant to see matches untainted by constant fouling and bad language. The ability and entertainment on show were certainly far higher than you’d find in a women’s cricket match.
My interest only went as far as watching England though, but seeing our women bow out was far less stressful than watching our men fail to beat Croatia in their World Cup semi-final last summer.
I’m done with the tournament now and here are the things I won’t miss...
1) Smug Americans.
They are the best women’s football team in the world and they are not shy about telling everyone.
Their vulgar goal celebrations during a 13-0 win over Thailand in their opening game gave an impression of arrogant showboating they didn’t even try to dispel.
2) Hopeless commentators.
Jonathan Pearce was given the mic for every England game and yet used it to seemingly flirt with co-commentator Sue Smith at every opportunity which would have been forgiveable if he’d ever shown any understanding of what was unfolding in front of him. VAR is a complete mystery to Pearce.
My favourite Pearce moment came during the win over Norway when he claimed England were lucky not to concede an equaliser at a time when they were 2-0 up.
3) England penalties
The goalkeepers are supposed to be the weak link in every women’s team and yet England saw three penalties saved including from one by skipper Steph Houghton in the semi-final defeat. What does that saw about the team’s dead-ball striking?
4) Dodgy haircuts
Did England coach Phil Neville have his hair cut by a blind man, someone with a grudge, or both?
5) Patronising drivel
Please stop saying this run to the semi-finals will be something of a breakthrough in terms of spectating at live matches in this country.
I grant you participation among youngsters should increase, but when the Women’s Premier League starts again later this year some top clubs will still struggle to attract 1,000 paying customers.
Our tribal men’s game is far too entertaining and exciting for the women to compete.