As England’s Lionesses take to the hallowed turf of Wembley Stadium, on Sunday (31 July), against old foes Germany, in the final of the 2022 Women’s European Championships, there will be interest for those of a Nottingham persuasion, in shot-stopper Mary Earps.
Currently playing in the Women’s Super League, with Manchester United, the former German champion, she helped her former club, VfL Wolfsburg, to a League and Cup double in 2019, has earned over twenty caps for her country.
Prior to all that, and appearing for that of Leicester City, Doncaster Rovers Belles, Birmingham City, Bristol Academy and Reading, as well as a loan spell at Coventry City. Earps would begin her career with West Bridgford Colts Juniors (2003-2006), playing there for three years from the age of nine.
In fact, it’s common knowledge that, one of the reasons she continued her time at the juniors was that the ‘keepers strip, was a shiny one, a gold one at that (suddenly thinking Panini sticker club badges here, we all wanted them).
During an interview with www.fa.com, in late 2018, about those formative years, Earps would say: “I loved it.
“I think everyone loves their first team. I’ve always played in goal and this was the first time I was part of a proper team. And I loved my jersey because it was shiny.
“All the girls in the time were friends, the parents were friends and we’d go round to each other’s houses.”
In joining Leicester City, at 13, Mary would then go on to make a handful of appearances for her hometown, Nottingham Forest, during the 2010-11 season ahead of what has been an enjoyable career, to date, making over 200 appearances along the way.
She has also excelled on the international front, donning the ‘keepers jersey for the U17, U19 and U23s, before making her full, England debut, against (ADD DETAILS).
Since then, Earps has helped her country to the final of the 2022 Euros, pulling off several, top drawer saves, in the 4-0 semi-final win over Sweden; there’s also a high possibility she will appear for, or at least be in the squad, for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, in Australia & New Zealand.
In her recent ‘Mary Earps: My Grassroots Story,’ for www.englandfootball.com, the Notts star, whist detailing her career, said of her ill-fated, brief time with the Reds of Nottingham Forest: “At 16 I moved to Nottingham Forest to play more regularly in the Premier League but I played on and off, so I ended up moving again because I wasn’t playing as much as I was told I was going to.”
Read the full, England Football interview, with Mary Earps here.
Back at the club where it all began for Mary Earps, the current Chairman of West Bridgford, Peter Stansbury, spoke highly of ‘one of their own,’ saying: “She started here when she was around nine-years-old, playing for our Under 10s side.
“She played in goal from the very beginning and would soon be spotted by professional clubs, being picked up first by Leicester City.
“Her career has just gone on from there, and it’s been great to see.
“At present we’ve got more than twenty girls teams, and they’re more than inspired by the England Women, with Mary, being from here, being central to that.
“We’ve always known that she started here, with us, in fact, when she was growing up, she lived in the same house that Peter Shilton (former Nottingham Forest & England ‘keeper) did when he was at the City Ground.”
Meanwhile, and having helped her side to promotion into the new-look, East Midlands Women’s Regional Football League, at the first attempt, current West Bridgford Women’s shot-stopper, also 29-years-old, Jade Waltham, spoke highly of both Earps, and the impact the Lionesses are having.
“We both started playing roughly around the same time, I was over in Loughborough whilst she was here,” explained Jade.
“Playing in goal is my preferred position and have been here, at West Bridgford, since the start of last season (when the then new, Seniors side took to the field).
“We got promoted the end of last season, and now ready for the next, and this (playing in goal) is what I’m good at.
“I know, and it’s not just myself, but others at the club, in the county, across England, we look at these players, those like Mary Earps, and we strive to be like that.”
It’s only become more common knowledge over recent days as to where Mary Earps began her playing career, including for people like Jade.
“She posted something on her Instagram, about where it all began,” added the current WB ‘keeper.
“I’d been following her, and other Lionesses, on Instagram for a while, but to see that, it was nice to see and, although everyone has their favourite player, she’s certainly up there.”
Mary Earps, and the rest of the Lionesses, will contest this years’ 2022 Women’s European Championships final, at Wembley Stadium, when they face old rivals, Germany – West Bridgford, now, will surely be watching, and cheering on, not only England, but one of their own.
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @WEURO2022 Goalkeeper Mary Earps celebrates reaching the final of the Euros.