Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The National (Scotland)
The National (Scotland)
Alan Campbell

Glasgow City show they can never be written off after title win - Alan Campbell

It will be interesting to see if today’s Scottish Cup final at Hampden can maintain the momentum generated by the final 10 days of the SWPL season. Astonishing crowds of 9,553 and 15,822 at Celtic Park, with a further 8,435 at Ibrox, exceeded even the most optimistic expectations.

The title race itself didn’t just go right down to the wire, it went two minutes beyond it. Lauren Davidson’s goal in time added against Rangers gave Glasgow City a record 16th win and denied Celtic their first.

The two biggest brands in Scottish football will have the opportunity to finish the season on a winning note at the national stadium this afternoon, but for City, formed 25 years ago by Laura Montgomery and Carol Ann Stewart, there must have been relief as well as celebration at Ibrox last Sunday.

Had Davidson not got her goal, the club would have gone two seasons without a trophy. That, in turn, would inevitably have been interpreted as proof that the stand-alone women’s club, who dominated the domestic landscape for the best part of two decades, cannot hope to compete against fully professional Celtic and Rangers sides.

Instead, in a typical act of defiance, City’s win brought another landmark moment. Fittingly Leanne Ross, pictured, the only player to feature in all of her club’s 14-in-a-row title successes, will now additionally be remembered as the first female head coach to win the SWPL title.

The 41-year-old admitted she has been under huge pressure in recent weeks and was looking forward to some much-needed sleep. It’s often forgotten in recording her achievements for City that she also won 135 Scotland caps – and yet she remains down-to-earth, modest and self-effacing.

With Ross’ former City and Scotland team-mates Lee Gibson, Jo Love and Hayley Lauder now all in their thirties, the link with the standard setting sides who reached two Champions League quarter-finals is becoming tenuous.

It won’t get any easier for City, but they proved again on Sunday they can never be written off.

IN the run-up to today’s Scottish Cup final, it was interesting to hear Celtic coach Fran Alonso say he fully endorses the decision to bring VAR into play for the first time in a women’s match in Scotland.

“We were asked for our opinion, and I was 100 per cent on board,” he said. “I think it’s a brilliant idea.”

The SFA’s head of referee operations, Crawford Allan, has visited both clubs to make present-ations and answer questions. Today’s match officials, led by referee David Munro, also have experience of using the technology.

Alonso made another topical point. “I got the data the other day,” the Spaniard said. “I believe Scottish teams have played the most games in the whole of Europe.”

The WSL in England ended yesterday – Chelsea won the title – after a season of just 22 games compared with the SWPL’s 32. La Liga in Spain comes closer to that figure, but even it concluded after 30 games with Barcelona as champions.

SWPL managing director Fiona McIntyre points out it was the clubs themselves who agreed the fixtures format. Nevertheless, she added: “We are keen to ensure that our compet-itions are fit for purpose and to ascertain player views, so we intend to survey players prior to the new season starting.”

McIntyre revealed that the SWPL will be distributing just over £200,000 in prize money to the clubs – a figure that comes on top of the £85,000 for the Sky Sports Cup. By contrast there will be no Scottish Cup prize money as the competition is not sponsored, but the SFA, who are running it for the first time, hope that can be remedied in future seasons.

TODAY’S match will be my last as a working journalist, and this is also my final column. When I started writing about women’s football it was inconceivable that a Scottish Cup final would be held at the national stadium, or that league matches in Scotland would attract five-figure attendances.

My purpose in covering the sport towards the end of a career which included World Cups, two Olympic Games, the Tiger Woods era in golf and many, many other highlights was simple. Women’s football had no real voice, was universally derided (mostly, but not always, by men), and yet I came to realise it had huge potential.

So thank you to Vera Pauw and Anna Signeul, who opened my eyes, and to all the wonderful people I’ve met on this fulfilling final chapter.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.