England v Scotland – Whitby’s pride in Lioness Beth Mead at Women’s World Cup

BRING IT ON: England's Beth Mead in action against New Zealand in the last warm-up encounter, is ready to tackle Scotland. Picture: Getty Images
BRING IT ON: England's Beth Mead in action against New Zealand in the last warm-up encounter, is ready to tackle Scotland. Picture: Getty Images
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NESTLED on the edge of the North York Moors, Hinderwell is one of those remote outposts that can be very easy to miss.

Yet it is from such humble origins that some beautiful sporting stories just occasionally emerge.

I have been lucky enough to have a good family support system behind me and from where I live, I could not have gone anywhere until I turned 18 and could start driving myself. I relied a lot on them and they have made as many sacrifices as me, if not more.

Beth Mead

Should its most famous inhabitant in Beth Mead enjoy a World Cup to savour with England Women in France, Hinderwell may not quite spring to prominence in the same way as say Hetton-le-Hole or Glenbuck – unpretentious pit villages off the beaten track where revered Liverpool managers Bob Paisley and Bill Shankly first drew breath and memorials now reside.

But to the more observant who know their sport, it will no longer be just another village that many drive through on the coastal route between Whitby and Loftus.

A sense of local pride will also be reinforced. Rest assured that a glass or two will be raised to Mead in the nearby Fox and Hounds pub where she once pulled pints.

Also across the wider Whitby area, a part of Yorkshire not renowned for its sporting heroes.

Those who do emerge are soon embraced.

In the 70s, ex-Middlesbrough frontman David Mills – a feted son of Whitby who became Britain’s first £500,000 footballer when he moved to West Brom in January, 1979 – put the seaside town on the map for reasons other than its tourist attractions.

The coastal favourite is also the birthplace of Yorkshire and England batsman Adam Lyth and Arsenal forward Mead is the latest name on the sporting alumni and her journey in France, which begins against Scotland in Nice tomorrow tea-time, will be followed intently.

Mead told The Yorkshire Post: “It is nice for the Whitby and Hinderwell area. But we have quite a bit of talent that comes out of here. Lythy is from over there and there’s a few of us and we just want to fly the flag for our area.

“I know Adam and we have trained together a little bit in the leisure centre at Whitby when we have had free time off from whatever we are doing.

“We back our own and those from our area. We know how it is to go from a little area like that and make it into this type of environment.

“It is surreal, we have worked hard to get there, probably harder than anybody else. It is nice to be involved in this.

“The people are so proud, even when you just walk down the street. I went home on a day off and the amount of people who came up to me and said: ‘We look out for you in the paper and on the news and we keep your clippings’ means that it is nice for them and drives me to keep pushing to make them proud.”

The striker with the penchant for the spectacular on the pitch remains refreshingly grounded and close to her roots off it.

They will vouch for that at the hostelry in Dalehouse near Staithes where Mead used to take the orders, suplementing her income while playing for first club Sunderland and c ompleting a degree at Teesside University.

Sacrifices arrived from Mead’s parents Richard and June and the rest of the family to help young Beth get to training on Wearside and pursue her burgeoning football career, which has seen her represent England at every level since the age of 15.

Mead’s passport to the big time arrived when she moved to Arsenal early in 2017 and the world stage now beckons for the 24-year-old, though she will never forget where she has come from.

On her footballing journey, she added: “I was part-time at Sunderland and had a part-time job in the pub and was behind the bar and stuff. I suppose until the moment that it was said that we actually had the money for us to go full-time, it did not feel real.

“It was just a hobby. Now, I am doing it as a full-time job, a job that I love.

“My parents and family have been massive in getting behind me. People have shared in it; if my dad and mum have been at work, my uncle or gran or grandad have taken me to training and games.

“I have been lucky enough to have a good family support system behind me and from where I live, I could not have gone anywhere until I turned 18 and could start driving myself. I relied a lot on them and they have made as many sacrifices as me, if not more.

“Now I have got older, I have realised that. But as a kid, you kind of take it for granted. They have been a big part of my journey.”

Mead can recall watching England’s last World Cup foray in Canada on the TV back in Hinderwell four years ago, with the Lionesses ultimately wounded after a heartbreaking semi-final exit to Japan.

She felt their pain, with the desire to avoid a replication not needing to be spelt out to all and sundry who are bidding to make history across the Channel.

Described by her manager Phil Neville as “the nicest, sweetest girl you could ever meet,” Mead’s affable nature belies her ferocious desire for success on it.

Mead – who offers versatility in being able to play as a central striker or out wide – heads into the finals as an undoubted ‘form horse’ and has targeted a starting spot on the back of what she views to be her best domestic season which was crowned by Arsenal winning the Women’s Super League title.

Mead is exuding the right sort of confidence heading into her first World Cup and Neville has detected that discernible change in transforming ‘from nice Beth Mead to hungry Beth Mead’.

Magnanimous off the pitch, but single-minded on it.

Mead, who scored twice on her full debut for England last September, said: “We are not there just to take part. We are a team who want to go and win it.

“Semi-finals is not good enough any more. We want to go and win a gold medal.

“I remember watching the game (semi-final in 2015) and that own goal going in and being heartbroken for them.

“I was not invested in the team then and was still gutted.

“To be involved with the team would probably now make it ten times worse.

“I was watching it back in Hinderwell. Little Hinderwell.”

Its residents will all be willing on their ‘girl’ to help England to take the next step over the next month, with the adventure starting tomorrow.