Chelsea striker Bethany England is delighted to have won her first major league trophy, despite having to celebrate over Zoom after the cancellation of the season.
The Women’s Super League, which will not be played to finish, has been decided on a points-per-game basis which meant that Chelsea moved from second place into the top spot. Barnsley woman Bethany, who also won the League Cup this season, told the Chronicle: “A lot of teams are probably very bitter about the way it happened. But we felt it was the right decision given we were unbeaten and we had beaten the other top sides. We felt it was the fair and just way of going around it if we weren’t able to actually finish the season.
"It is weird not being able to celebrate because it’s the first proper domestic trophy that I have won but I am sure, once everyone is back in, we will be able to do something to celebrate. We had a Zoom call when it was announced and spoke a lot about what we had achieved. We set out to win the treble and we have two trophies and we’re still waiting to see how the FA Cup is decided or if it will be played at all.”
Bethany – who turned 26 last week – was denied the chance to compete for the league’s top-scorer award, having netted 14 goals. She said: “I have missed out on the golden boot but, out of all competitions, I am the top-scorer. It’s a team sport and I would take two trophies over the Golden Boot, although it is a little bit disappointing. Last season I scored 22 and I wanted 25 minimum this season. I had 21 so I probably would have smashed that target with eight league games left and the FA Cup.”
There have been complaints about the decision to cancel the women’s campaign while the top two divisions of men’s football are due to begin next week. England said: “The main argument has been that the men have had the opportunity to play and we haven’t. But we are very aware that there are a number of teams in our league who wouldn’t have had the money to finish the season. Chelsea would have been fine but teams like Reading have been on furlough so they wouldn’t have been able to afford coming off that as well testing.
"I personally think it was right to do it this way financially, as well ensuring safety. A lot of women’s teams don’t have the same facilities, capacity and space as the men’s clubs so the risk would have been higher. It is definitely frustrating because we wanted to finish the season but it just wasn’t possible.”
Bethany has been back at her family home in Kingstone for the last two weeks. She said: “It was difficult being down in London on my own for ten weeks but I got the greenlight to go back up. It’s been really nice to come back.”
She is still nursing an injury which she sustained playing for England in the SheBelieves Cup in March. She said: “In a way, it was perfect for me because I didn’t miss any games or get rushed back. I can sort it the right way rather than force it and have further complications down the line. I am about 85 per cent recovered now. It’s been a long process but I am getting there.”
The next five summers, starting from 2021, will see the Tokyo Olympics, a European Championship in England, the 2023 World Cup, the 2024 Olympics and then another Euros. Bethany, who has seven England caps, said: “I am excited. There are some big tournaments coming up. There are a big five years of tournament football internationally. And, with Chelsea, we have shown how strong we are so next season we will hope to win the Champions League as well as retaining our trophies from this season.”