I was one of the lucky ones.

My beloved wife was desperate for a Mary Earps goalie shirt, and we knew Nike was releasing a batch at 8.30am.
I set an alarm, got the web page saved on my desktop and, at 8.28am, my finger was poised over the reset button.
At bang on 8.30, that shirt was in my shopping basket and I hit the checkout button.

Nothing.

Nada.

Zilch.
Before the clock had even flipped to 8.31am, those green England #1 shirts had sold out!
I tried different colours, different sizes, all gone.

By 8.32am, there were none left and, by 9am, they were popping up on eBay at double the price.

Gah! Disaster! There’s no way we could allow Santa into our home this year without a Mearps shirt!

There are some AWESOME lessons in marketing and personal branding to be had right there! Watch those Lionesses and learn, people. Watch and learn!

On a whim, I checked the Nike website! There were FOUR England women’s goalie shirts left in the right size! I snagged one and sat feeling smug for longer than I care to admit.

I reckon Mary – and all the other Lionesses – have done us proud.

And it’s not just about performance on the pitch. They haven’t won shedloads of trophies this year.

They HAVE inspired so, so many young girls across the nation, and plenty of adults as well.

Their humour, their spirit, their desire to build and be better… they’re just bloody awesome!

Not only that, but I actually enjoy the game far more than ever before. I’m no longer a football widow – I’m easily equalling Asha’s enthusiasm.

My national pride turned to disappointment in the run up to Sports Personality Of The Year – and it had nothing to do with the brilliant finalists.

Negative comments in social media threads about the event had me shaking my head in dismay.

“Mary who?” so many people wrote.

“What has she won this year?” others complained.

“If Mary Twerps is in the running, the whole thing’s a farce!” another spat.

I hate to say it, but every one of the inane comments I saw came from a bloke.

For balance, I know plenty of fellas who love our women’s footie team (James Hall, I’m thinking of you in particular, you awesome human being!) – but any enthusiasm was drowned out by predominantly male sour grapes.

Of course, Mary won. I like to think mine and Asha’s votes swung it for her.

Enter Piers Morgan! (Eeuuwww… what an awful thought! 🤢)

There he was, with his bombastic, bitter, playing to the mardy masses tirade.

All the predictable, tiresome hot air we’d expect from this aging joke of a ‘journalist’. You know what they say about opinions and arseholes, right?

And then there were all the other comments online… again, mostly from fellas, criticising Mary’s choice of dress.

I’m sorry, what? Where do you all get off telling women what to wear?

Telling ANYONE what to wear?

SPOTY isn’t about who’s won – or worn – what. It’s about PERSONALITY… and Mary Queen Of Stops has it in bucketloads.

We’ve smiled with her, cheered with her, cried with her, occasionally sworn with her and had the urge to reach through the TV screens and wrap her in a giant hug when she showed her vulnerability in believing she’d let down her team.

This Christmas, I know there’ll be children and adults alike beaming when they open their gifts and see that goalie shirt.

I know there are also young women all over the world who have been inspired by our Lionesses – inspired to do more, be more and to reach for their dreams.

That, in itself, is the most beautiful goal any team could have scored.

In 2024, let’s have more praise and less Piers.

Let’s have more equality, equity and encouragement instead of so much judgement and bitterness.

Let’s lift people up and recognise achievements on and off the pitch, in and out of offices, on and off Fakebook and Instaglam.

Let’s aim to inspire, motivate, encourage and cheer each other on.

Let’s make 2024 a year we can be proud of, through our actions, our energy, our work to create a better world, rather than basing everything on material targets.

Thank you so much for all your support over the years – I look forward to being able to inspire and encourage you all in the year to come.

I’ll sign off by paraphrasing one of those social media comments somewhat…Piers who?

Happy holidays, everyone.

See you in January!
 
Until next time,
 
#UnleashYourAwesome
 
Taz X