Esme Morgan remembers being the “kid in the crowd” hoping to catch a glimpse of her heroes.
The 23-year-old is now on the other side as an England international and a regular at Manchester City.
The difference, however, is that the crowd Morgan once stood in has multiplied to tens of thousands.
When England played at Wycombe in front of 5,000 spectators there was a realistic chance for fans to meet the players after games. But the Lionesses are attracting a much larger crowd these days, with Friday’s Nations League game against Belgium being played at a sell-out Kingpower Stadium in Leicester, which holds over 32,000 spectators.
The problem is that many people’s expectations have not changed. After England’s victory over Scotland in Sunderland last month, a video emerged of fans shouting for players to “get off the bus”.
Esme Morgan says the growing crowds make it difficult for the players to meet every fan – but that they still “love” meeting fans
Mary Earps was accused by a parent of being “too busy and important” to meet her daughter, saying the remark was “hurtful” as she was devoting time to fans
On Sunday, England goalkeeper Mary Earps responded to an Instagram comment from a parent who accused her of being “too busy and important” to meet her daughter after Manchester United’s win over Everton. Earps described the remark as “hurtful” and stressed she spent a lot of time meeting fans after the game.
The England players care deeply about interacting with fans, but as Morgan explains, it’s not as easy as it used to be.
“We love coming by and making someone happy and seeing how excited people are, but as the game has evolved, it’s just not realistic or feasible for us to come by and see everyone,” says Morgan.
“It’s difficult when sometimes some fans feel like they’re expecting to meet you and in previous years that might have been an option because there weren’t as many fans coming to the games for that to be something you might have been able to do. “ Get around everyone.
“But obviously as the game has evolved it’s become a lot harder now, so you’re trying to socialize in different ways – doing social media, interacting with people there and replying to comments and things like that is another way. to do that, but.” Personal contact after the games will definitely be much more difficult.
“We know the fans are really enjoying it and we really want to keep it in the game. We want to continue to meet people, but of course it’s not a pleasant experience when someone like Mary, for example, spends a lot of time meeting each other.” Fans, she is so patient, and then when she comes home, she has a person missed and therefore has to deal with a flood of insults. I think that’s a shame and would stop you from doing it.”
Morgan admits some fans, like those at Sunderland, may be disappointed, but hopes there is an understanding that players cannot stay out all night – even if they wanted to.
“It’s difficult when there are so many people. You walk past the border, sign things, meet people and then get called away by security.
Lionesses fans were upset when players didn’t greet them after their win over Scotland in the Nations League in September
“At some point we have to take the bus home otherwise we would be out there all night, at some point you have to leave and then people scream “I want that, you haven’t seen me yet” and I feel bad, because I went this far [in the line] And when you’re the next person, you’re so close and you miss something and that’s really hard because I’m sure that at that age I would have been disappointed and so disappointed that I was so close to having one of my Friends meet heroes.
“There are just so many more people coming to the games that it’s just not possible for us to get around everything.”
“We had a situation at City last year. We were playing away in Brighton and Chloe Kelly, as usual, had been out for ages signing things and having her photo taken with people and a fan tweeted her saying she hadn’t taken the time to meet one of his daughters meet, the… would come to the game.
“Chloe was really upset because she had spent so much time there and you can’t please everyone and you always remember that one person who wasn’t happy with you versus all the people you were “It made the day, and they really were.” grateful.
“It’s difficult because a lot of times the club’s reaction was, ‘Don’t bother,’ because we all wanted to stick up for Chloe and say, ‘Wait a minute, she was the last one in the dressing room after the game, that’s not it.’ fair,” but of course you don’t necessarily want to engage in that negative way.
There were a number of problems in both international and domestic matches as fans gathered on the sidelines before the end of the game in order to better meet the players after the game.
Chloe Kelly was upset when a fan complained she hadn’t met one of her daughters despite spending lots of time with fans
Manchester City have created an “autograph street” where players can dedicate time to fans
Manchester City have attempted to address this issue by creating an “autograph avenue”. Selected fans, including fan club members, competition winners and others selected on the day, will receive wristbands that allow entry to an area through which a number of players will pass and sign autographs and take photos.
“It’s actually much nicer for us as players because it’s a much calmer situation and atmosphere,” says Morgan. “Sometimes when you’re walking around the edge of the crowd, you kind of get yelled at and have things shoved in your face. I find this difficult because I have been on the other end of it. When I first came to City’s women’s games, I was just a kid in the crowd wanting to meet everyone.
“I think the way City have organized it, it’s a lot less chaotic and a lot more structured and organised. “It’s a really nice way to get to know everyone and you can spend a bit more time chatting to people because not everyone around you is screaming or going a little crazy because sometimes it can be a little overwhelming when there are such big crowds and you feel bad when you leave when you know there are a hundred more people in line who Can’t reach you. Then it happens that we can’t see everyone, but we do our best.
“I think if the clubs like City can create something that leads to much better management and a calmer experience then I think it will be a lot more pleasant for everyone.”