THIS week 15 years ago Warrington was playing its part in what is now considered a watershed tournament for women’s football in this country.

The UEFA Women’s Championship staged in Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Cheshire in 2005 generated record crowds and unprecented media attention, with a one-year-old Halliwell Jones Stadium playing a significant part.

Outside of the England games, no attendances were higher than at Warrington Wolves’ new ground where football was being played for the very first time.

The Football Association’s brave decision, and Wire chiefs’ powers of persuasion, to bring such a prestige event to a purpose-built rugby league home paid off in spades when Warrington sport fans got behind the tournament in their thousands and took eventual finalists Norway into their hearts in the three games they played in The Wire’s den.

Such was the success of the group-stage action in Warrington, broadcast live across the world by the Eurosport cameras, that the FA rewarded the town with one of the semi-finals, which turned out to be the game of the tournament.

The 5,722 HJ crowd were on the edge of their seats as Sweden twice came back from behind, on the second occasion in the 89th minute, to force extra-time with their long-time Scandinavian rivals Norway.

Solveig Gulbrandsen’s second goal in the 109th minute eventually settled the thrilling contest that was being watched from the stands by UEFA president Lennart Johansson, FA director of football development Trevor Brooking and England coach Hope Powell.

It seemed fitting that Norway progressed to the final at Ewood Park, Blackburn, where they lost 3-1 as Germany sealed their fourth of what proved to be six successive crowns.

They had put on a wonderful show in their three games in the town, including in what had proven to be a dress rehearsal for the final in their Group B opening 1-0 loss to the holders.

While in the 1-1 draw with France three days later 16-year-old Isabell Herlovsen became and remains the youngest goal-scorer in the Championship.

Norway showed a fantastic spirit, played good football and brought a large number of travelling supporters – they will always be part of Warrington’s fond memories of Euro 2005.

And the feelings were mutual after the celebratory scenes on and off the HJ field marking Norway’s progression to the final.

Norway coach Bjarne Berntsen, who was part of the men’s national team that produced a similar emotional moment when they famously gave England ‘a hell of a beating’ in 1981, said: “The Warrington people have been tremendous, and I think they love our girls.

“We have been very well treated in the three games we have been here, and are very lucky that we got to the final and made the victory for them against Sweden.

“We lost and drew here before, so it was time to give them a victory, because they supported us so well in all three games.”

The Halliwell Jones Stadium matches, UEFA Women’s Championship, 2005:

Group B: June 6, Germany 1 Norway 0 (Att: 1,600)

Group B: June 9, France 1 Norway 1 (Att: 3,263)

Group B: June 12, France 0 Germany 3 (Att: 3,835)

Semi-final: June 16, Norway 3 Sweden 2 aet (Att: 5,722)