England striker Bethany England is hoping to complete her ‘best season ever’ which could end with a domestic treble and the Super League top-scorer’s crown, but only if it is safe to do so.
The 25-year-old from Kingstone plays for Chelsea who are competing for the title and FA Cup, having already won the League Cup, while she is the Super League’s joint top-scorer with 14 goals. England told the Chronicle: “Personally, I really want the season to finish for selfish reasons because it’s the best season I have ever had. At Chelsea, we are in a good position to win the league and the FA Cup and we had our sights set on the treble and, for me, I definitely had my sights set on the golden boot. But I wouldn’t want to be putting anyone at risk or put myself at risk to play football. I hope there is a decline in the virus and we avoid a second spike.”
Bethany, who is still recovering from an Achilles injury she sustained while at the SheBelieves Cup in America with England in March, says she is ‘the busiest I’ve ever been’ despite the lockdown. She said: “I have been very hectic. I have had loads of media interviews and I’ve been studying for my degree. I have been doing a lot of dog-walking and a lot of baking, as well as keeping on top of my fitness. It hasn’t been easy being injured during the lockdown but I have still been doing rehab and going for scans. Hopefully I am only a few weeks away from being fully recovered.
“I have been living on my own with my dog, Buddy. That’s probably been my biggest challenge because I am a very socialable and family-orientated person so being by myself has had its challenges. I am missing my family and friends a great deal but it has to be done. I think my mum is fed up of me because I am calling her every single day for a chat. My mum works at Northern General Hospital in the labs so she is busy getting all the virus samples and tests. She’s going onto wards where people have Covid so it’s quite dangerous.”
Bethany raised £1,150 for NHS Charities Together by raffling off the boots in which she scored both goals in Chelsea’s League Cup final win over Arsenal earlier this season. She said: “It was a way of raising some money. I didn’t want to auction them off because not everyone has got a lot of money at the moment so it was a raffle where people could donate as much as they wanted and still have a chance of winning. I was really taken aback by the response.”
Bethany admits that the coronavirus’ economic impact could be significant on football, and especially the women’s game. She said: “The women’s side will probably be impacted the most, due to the revenue it generates compared to the men’s game. Notts County women folded to help the men’s team and, although that was a few years ago, it could happen more in this current situation. “Women’s teams are often the first thing to go as clubs look to save money. I just hope as many clubs as possible can support their women’s team.
“Most women’s teams depend on funding from charities and other donations. Thankfully, Roman Abramovic, who owns Chelsea, has not put anyone on furlough and has done a lot to help the NHS. But, for other clubs, it could very difficult. AFC Fylde have had to fold their women’s side because of the pandemic which is so sad. The women’s game is growing so much and getting so much popularity and investment so this could have an impact on that. It’s an unprecedented situation and not a lot of people were prepared for it.”
The rescheduled tournament plan means that Bethany could play in next year’s Olympics for Great Britain, then the 2022 European Championships in England followed by the 2023 World Cup. She said: “It’s very exciting and the next three years are crucial for me. I just want to keep myself fit and scoring goals to stay in the England squad.”
Phil Neville – the England manager who gave the Barnsley woman all of her five caps – is set to leave in July of next year. Bethany said: “Phil has been definitely a big part of my England career because he’s the one that took the chance on me.”