Australia is firmly in the grip of Matildas fever following their heart-stopping penalty-shootout victory over France to progress to the Women's World Cup semi-finals. However that momentum has been building steadily in the weeks and months leading up to what now looms as possibly the biggest match in the team's history, with a spot in the final up for grabs when the Matildas face England on Wednesday.
Their efforts it making it to the final four have sparked calls for a national public holiday should they go on to win the tournament. The penalty shootout victory drew TV ratings rivalling those seen during Cathy Freeman's gold medal winning 400m effort in the 2000 Olympics, and easily surpassing several other landmark Aussie sporting moments.
'NO RESPECT': Uproar over 'shameful' detail amid Matildas heroics
The viewership for the Matildas' round of 16 win over Denmark had already passed the number of people who watched the State of Origin series this year, as well as last year's AFL and NRL grand finals. But the Matildas are poised to go one better, with many tipping the semi-final between Australia and England to be the most-watched event in Aussie TV history.
With so many extra eyes on the Matildas, it comes as no surprise that fans want to know every detail about the team. One often asked questions has been why forward Mary Fowler wears gloves in every game.
The Manchester City star discussed her gloves in an interview with former Socceroos goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer on Channel 7. The former Australian gloveman quipped about her having aspirations to play in goal - something Fowler put to bed swiftly.
Fowler said the gloves had come about in part because she can be 'fidgety' - and unable to wear a ring she does in training during games, has turned to the gloves. “No, I mean, I haven’t told anyone yet what (the reason is) — it’s a bit silly," she said.
“But I honestly just wear gloves because I get really fidgety. Usually I train with a ring on, but if it’s cold, I wear gloves, and I can’t wear a ring in a match, so I usually wear gloves."
Why does Hayley Raso wear a ribbon in her hair?
Fowler's teammate over at Manchester City, Hayley Raso, also has a match-day habit fans have picked up on - a ribbon in her hair. Speaking to Manchester City's website for a profile, Raso revealed the ribbon was something she had done for every game dating back to her childhood.
She's had some assistance over the years keeping the colour scheme on point, with her grandmother sending over some matching sky blue ribbons. Raso joined Manchester City following the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, in which the Matildas defeated Great Britain in the quarter final, on their way to a bronze medal playoff and loss to the US.
“I’ve worn a ribbon for my whole career,” Raso said of her ribbons. "My grandma always matches my ribbon to my kits so she's sent my new ones over for this season. It’s pretty cute.”
When do the Matildas play England?
The Matildas' semi-final clash against England is at Stadium Australia in Sydney, set to kick off at 8PM. Matildas fans who couldn't get tickets to the blockbuster semi-final showdown on Wednesday night will have a number of options in regards to watching it on a big screen at a live site.
State premiers Minns and Dan Andrews announced on Sunday that Sydney and Melbourne will be opening up more live sites than ever before.
Fans have been packing out Federation Square in Melbourne and Tumbalong Park in Sydney throughout the tournament, and Mr Andrews even opened up Rod Laver Arena on Saturday night for the Matildas' quarter-final clash with France. But on Sunday there were a number of new live sites announced for Wednesday night's semi-final
Mr Andrews said AAMI Park will be open on a 'first come, best dressed' situation for anyone who wants to watch the game on the big screen with fellow fans. "Big game needs a bigger stadium. AAMI Park. Wednesday night. Be there," he wrote on social media.
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