FEW would have been shouting louder on Sunday than former England Lioness and Skipton resident, Jean Elliott, as she watched the phenomenal achievement of the England women’s football squad beat Germany 2-1 in the UEAFA Women's Euro final.

Glued to the TV screen at Moorview Social Club, Jean said it was a proud moment for the country and in particular for women’s football to see the squad lift the trophy in front of a capacity Wembley crowd and over 23 million screen viewers world-wide.

Jean, 70, has indeed relished the success of the England women’s football team as one who has played the beautiful game internationally herself on many occasions.

She said: “It has been brilliant to follow the girls in the tournament. They had done so well against their opponents to get to the final, but I wasn’t convinced they would beat the German side unless they changed their tactics.

“The England team usually takes 10 minutes to settle in. I said before the match that if they didn’t go out on the attack straight away, Germany would just fire goals past them. Fortunately they went out attacking and got the advantage. There’s such a lot of talent in the squad. They’ve jelled so well. I really like coach Sarina Wiegman. She’s done a fantastic job.”

However, for the born and bred Skipton lass - formerly Jean Breckon - that glowing success and also that of the event itself, inclusive of the exemplary match attendances and viewing figures, has accorded extra cause for delight. Reason being, that football - the women’s game - has at last truly come home to our native land.

Not quite the same then as when Jean herself played and shone for England in the pioneering 1971 Women’s World Cup, in Mexico. This being at a time when the English football authorities had yet to recognise the validity of the women’s game even though it was already seriously up and running - if only then at senior level - in many parts of England at that time, albeit not quite in the volume of today.

A fine all-rounder in sport, Jean’s own path to the England team had been channelled through her joining the RAF at the age of 18. Her career move following her having worked for the previous three years at the food hut behind the town hall since her leaving Aireville School aged 15.

Jean, an avid Leeds United FC fan, had initially honed her footballing talents when playing out on the road alongside the lads in front of her Hillside Crescent home on the Shortbank estate, or in the neighbouring fields. Meanwhile, her employment at the food hut had also stood her in good stead for her eventual admission to the RAF which she had joined in food catering.

An ideal choice, be assured for sporting opportunities galore would open up. Indeed, besides football, Jean also represented the RAF at hockey and won the RAF javelin title for good measure. However, football was her favourite.

And, having starred for the RAF in top class competition - as it was at that time - against both services teams and also against top level mainstream opposition, her eventual call up for the England team to contest the Mexico show-piece, was indeed an occasion to behold. And, not least through the matches being staged in front of massive crowds at the famous Aztec Stadium.

Competition in all the matches was certainly intense. And such was the splendid credibility of England’s performances against Argentina, Denmark, France, Italy and Mexico - all of whom were already firing on the same pedestal as their male counterparts - thus prompted the English FA to formally recognise women’s football the following year, 1972.

Thereon, the popularity and nationwide acceptance of women’s and girls’ football did start to increase. Slow at first, but making rapid strides in more recent times. However, there is still work to be done. B

But, our local hero, Jean, who even lost a finger playing football, and others of similar passionate mind, believe that a full-house sell-out attendance at Wembley and a titanic swell of television support across the nation will provide an extra wad of tickets for the admission of the beautiful game into games activities at more schools which accommodate females. Just as Jean herself would have aspired for, all those years ago.

Jean, who played in midfield for her Chiltern Valley Ladies team, but at left back for the Lionesses, was a tough opponent and was even nicknamed Norman Hunter, after the late centre back. Her defending skills meant she was regularly targeted by the opposition and often sported large bruises.

However, asked how the 1971 Lionesses would measure up in a match against today’s squad, she said: “There’s no doubt. We’d get hammered!”