Last updated on July 15th, 2023 at 08:43 PM
The England women’s football team received a special visitor today as they geared up for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Margaret ‘Paddy’ McGroarty, a trailblazing former player for the team, was welcomed by the current players and staff.
McGroarty was a part of the historic first-ever England women’s team that played its inaugural international match against Scotland in 1972. She earned 6 caps for the national team and scored 2 goals.
Paddy, who now resides in Melbourne, Australia, couldn’t attend the 50th-anniversary celebration of the 1972 team last year.
While many of her former teammates received their personalized caps during a special ceremony at Wembley Stadium, Paddy had the opportunity to meet the current team during their training session at Sunshine Coast Stadium on July 15th.
After the training session, the players and staff gathered together, led by Mary Earps, to honour Paddy with her own unique legacy number and cap.
This distinction is bestowed upon all 227 players who have represented the senior England team. Paddy was also given the privilege of presenting Lucy Staniforth with her own legacy cap, as she was the only member of the travelling player group who had yet to receive it.
Mary Earps expressed her delight at meeting Paddy and praised the 1972 team for their significant role in the history of the game. She acknowledged their pioneering efforts in breaking down barriers and paving the way for future generations.
Mary emphasized that the current team stands on the shoulders of those who came before them and acknowledged Paddy’s lifelong affiliation with the Lionesses, saying, “Once a Lioness, always a Lioness.”
Paddy McGroarty shared her gratitude for the warm welcome she received from the players and staff. She marvelled at how much the game has grown and developed since her time as a player, and she expressed her delight at being able to witness it firsthand.
Paddy conveyed her support for the current team and wished them the best of luck in the upcoming tournament.
Kay Cossington, the Women’s Technical Director at The FA, highlighted the significance of the legacy numbers introduced to honour former players.
She emphasized that each player has played a part in the team’s journey and that these numbers serve as a permanent reminder of their impact and the history of the England Senior Women’s team. Paddy’s legacy number 6 holds a special meaning for her and symbolizes her contribution to the game’s growth.
The FA expressed their gratitude to Paddy and all the players who have represented England since 1972, recognizing their transformative role in football and society.
They hope that Paddy can look back with pride on being part of a select group of women who have made a lasting impact. As England continues their preparations for the World Cup, they will travel to Brisbane on July 17th and face their first opponent, Haiti, on July 22nd. Subsequent matches include Denmark on July 28th in Sydney and China PR on August 1st in Adelaide.