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England star Beth Mead’s journey from a small Yorkshire village to the pinnacle of women’s football

Written by on 2 August 2022

From a quiet, quaint village on the North East coast – Hinderwell’s golden girl is now the proud wearer of Europe’s Golden boot.  

The Yorkshire village is beaming with pride after Beth Mead took the Women’s Euros by storm, not only winning the trophy with her team – but finishing as the top goalscorer and the tournament’s best player.

There’s immense joy and excitement across Hinderwell, and a few sore heads too after they celebrated in the village’s two pubs on Sunday evening – including Mead’s first football coach, Phillip Nedley.

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We meet him on the field where Mead would take part in the boys’ Saturday football club.

He had no idea that one day she’d be an England star.

“I’m just immensely proud to have a little part of her journey to where she’s got to now. It’s so impressive to see her perform like she does,” he told Sky News.

More on Women’s Euro 2022

“If we didn’t have that little Saturday morning club, she might not have bothered or picked something else up.

“She had something special about her, she was a gifted player. But she also had a phenomenal determination and a great attitude, she wanted to do everything better than anybody else and really worked for it.

“But we never dreamed she’d make it. We thought she might make a living out of it and play for a local team – so we’re just so pleased.

Phillip Nedley was the forward's first football coach Image: Phillip Nedley was the forward’s first football coach

“If a little girl from the village can get to the world top, then anybody can have a go.”

It was 20 years ago when Mead joined the Saturday club, and Mr Nedley remembers the first day she came along.

He said: “Beth turned up with her parents, two foot nothing, all in England strip and a little pair of boots, keen as mustard.

“Her mum and dad said ‘Bethany would like to have a game’ and I said, ‘She’s a bit small, the big lads might push her off the ball and hurt her.'”

“But she took part, and we had some warm-up sessions, a few drills, and then we had a big game at the end.

Beth Mead, 27, has made 44 appearances for England, scoring 28 goals along the way Image: Mead stated playing football with the local boys club on Saturdays

“The boys were trying to push her off the ball, and they were kicking her, and she just turned around, and she was giving as good as she got, pushing them off the ball, tackling them and going in hard – she just thoroughly enjoyed herself.”

‘She’s just an ordinary person’

From her first coach, to her first teacher.

Janet Lonsdale ran the pre-school Mead attended and told us her performance will go into Yorkshire’s archives.

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“It’s a marvellous thing that’s happened. She’s just an ordinary person from an ordinary family who’s down to earth and made it to the top – it’s absolutely fabulous,” she said.

Janet Lonsdale ran the pre-school which Mead attended Image: Janet Lonsdale ran the pre-school which Mead attended

“The pubs were absolutely full and when we see her on the telly, we say ‘there’s our little Beth’ and she’s there on top of the world.

“She always wanted to play football and so the village has always supported her, when she first started off we did some fundraising for her, and it’s been absolutely marvellous, we just can’t believe how far she’s come.”

The entire village has been cheering on their local star and her England teammates Image: The entire village has been cheering on their local star and her England teammates

Read more:
From ban on women’s organised football to Euro triumph – what’s next for England?
PM, Spice Girls and Three Lions react to Euro 2022 victory
Tears, cheers, and jubilation: England’s historic win in pictures

There are only 1,800 people that live in the village of Hinderwell – but everywhere you go you’re reminded of England’s emphatic victory and of the Yorkshire girl that got them there.

Flags, bunting and her name are plastered in windows, outside pubs and on the rusted goalposts opposite her grandma Dotty’s home, where she once played.

Whenever she returns, there’ll be a welcome like no other.

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