Commonwealth Games: How Helen Housby became the 'David Beckham' of netball

Helen Housby heroics

The Commonwealth Games have given rise to some of the greatest sporting moments ever and Helen Housby’s last-gasp heroics for England back in 2018 are right up there with the best of them. 

Four years ago on the Gold Coast, Housby cemented herself in netball folklore by scoring a goal in the last second of the final against hosts Australia –– handing England a first-ever gold medal in the sport. 

Housby, who grew up idolising former England football captain David Beckham, has become an inspiration for many young girls in much the same way. 

Later this month, England will bid to defend their title on home soil as the Games head to Birmingham for the very first time. 

Netball has not been the same ever since England’s triumph and all eyes will be on Jess Thirlby’s side as they seek to win back-to-back gold medals. 

Here’s a reminder of how the events unfolded in 2018 and how Housby secured legendary status. 

What happened in 2018? 

In a fiercely contested final, Australia had levelled the score at 51-51 with just 20 seconds remaining. 

Australia had been predicted to saunter to victory in front of a home crowd, while for England, reaching the gold medal match was an achievement in itself. 

With just four seconds left on the clock, Housby missed a shot, yet the umpire awarded a penalty to England. Housby made no mistake and celebrated instantly as the buzzer sounded and victory was secured. 

Helen Housby

“For netball in England, all the little girls at home I want them to be inspired by this,” Housby said at the time. 

“We certainly didn’t have this kind of success to look up to when we were growing up and hopefully that will be the catalyst for big things to come.”

Housby’s iconic status 

Housby’s hopes most certainly came true and the image of the netball star being swarmed by her teammates has become iconic. 

“I’ve seen that photo a lot,” she told BBC Sport. 

The avid Manchester United fan has had multiple opportunities to sit in the director’s box at Old Trafford and even received a message of congratulations from Beckham himself. 

England’s netball team were named the Team of the Year at the Sports Personality awards and the victory itself was named the greatest sporting moment of 2018. 


Can England do it again? 

As reigning champions, England will enter the Games under a lot of pressure but Thirlby has stressed the team are prepared and can’t wait to get going. 

Despite having five Commonwealth Games debutants, Thirlby believes the team has the “perfect balance” and is full of talent. 

England start their campaign against Trinidad and Tobago next Friday, with a packed crowd expected. 

2018 was a landmark moment for women’s netball in England. Here’s hoping 2022 could be even bigger.

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