Here is an undeniably rousing, relentlessly celebratory film about the England women’s football team’s triumph at the 2022 European championships – only a few months back, but as is the way, the summer seems like another age. Technically this is a documentary, but it’s more like the sort of feelgood motivational clip show that might get shown to aspiring football coaches – though that shouldn’t diminish the basic enjoyment it provides.
So we get the highlights of England’s rise to glory: the nervous group-game victory over Austria, followed by unexpected tonkings of Norway and Northern Ireland, then the steady progression through the knockouts culminating in the nail-biting final against Germany, won by the scuffed goal from Chloe Kelly, followed of course by the celebrated wild shirt-waving celebration. Possibly of equal interest are the historical gobbets spread throughout, documenting key moments in the progress of the women’s game in the UK – thwarted by the FA, overshadowed by the men’s game, undermined by everyday sexism – which digs up some fascinating archive footage.
We hear from some of the players including Nikita Parris and Jill Scott – neither of whom, if we’re being honest, got on the pitch very much – as well as goalkeeper Mary Earps and team captain Leah Williamson, both of whom played key roles. (The latter, particularly, comes across as a thoughtful and considered student of the game.) Perhaps another documentary has already signed up team manager Sarina Wiegman, or she just isn’t interested in talking to camera, but she’s a notable absentee (though represented through copious press conference footage).
Well, there’s not a lot here that will be news to anyone who paid even a small amount of attention at the time, but no one could begrudge the recycling of the team’s achievement and their chance to revel in it a bit – especially as the men’s World Cup winds to its close.
• Lionesses: How Football Came Home is released on 12 December in cinemas and on 19 December on digital platforms and DVD.