Wow, what a night! Our first ever visit to Wembley Stadium for the Women’s Gold Medal Football Match was an amazing experience. The announcer claimed we were part of a world record crowd for a women’s game!
The atmosphere at the stadium was incredible. Even walking down to the arena from the tube station was a moving experience. Seeing the iconic Aussie-built stadium as we surged forward as part of an international wave of happy people, was exciting in itself.
The crowd of over 80 000 was in an upbeat mood. Everyone was chatting to strangers nearby and there was a big sense of anticipation about who might win: USA or Japan. Jenny and I thought the crowd was about one third US supporters, one third Japanese and the rest Brits and ‘others.’ With Wembley having such a huge capacity, it was about the only event that fans could still buy tickets for.
To me, Japan seemed to be the more skillful team. They played a possession game but the USA were very strong defensively and it was difficult for the Japanese to create scoring opportunities. The US team were taller, stronger, faster and had a bit more flair. They had been incredibly lucky to beat Canada in the semi-final, 4-3 in extra time, after trailing for most of the match.
The US scored the first goal against the flow of play. Both teams were highly skilled and it was an absorbing contest. When the US scored another goal early in the 2nd half, it looked to be all over. But then the Japanese scored and the crowd went nuts! Both teams set up several other scoring opportunities, but 2-1 was the final score.
The medal ceremony was a very moving experience. Of course the USA supporters went crazy when their heroes were introduced. But the Japanese and Canadians also received a huge ovation and I’m sure almost everyone in the stadium was experiencing goose-bumps. I certainly was!
More cameraderie post match and the massive wave of supporters surged back onto the trains. Smooth, efficient, calm. Lots of chatting. And an overwhelming sense that the Brits are immensely proud of their Olympics. They are already claiming it as the greatest Olympics ever. We just bite our tongues, but it surely is right up there with Sydney.