No matter which sport you’re playing, you always want to test yourself against the best. Cup runs can give sides in the lower divisions a chance to prove they can compete at a higher level and make a name for themselves against higher calibre players in a one-off game. You hear it time and time again; the magic of the cup, anything can happen, it’s a funny old game.
There’s something quite unique in football’s domestic cup competitions in that the cream of the crop can come up against minnows seemingly doomed for a thumping but somehow they manage to hold their own and give a good account of themselves. Now and again, they can even pull off an upset. I mean who expected Clyde to beat Celtic 2-1 in Roy Keane’s debut back in 2006, or perhaps even more famously when former St. Johnstone midfielder Paul Sheerin – then of Inverness Caledonian Thistle – helped the Highlanders to a shock 3-1 win against the Parkhead side in the 1999/00 Scottish Cup. Cup shocks do happen.
And this weekend, there’s an opportunity for local women’s side Jeanfield Swifts to have a go at causing an upset themselves. The Perth side will go up against the formidable Glasgow City – champions of the Scottish women’s top-flight for the past ten years – hoping that they can take their illustrious opponents all the way in the Scottish Cup Quarter-Final tie.
Glasgow City’s girls are coached by former Scotland international striker, Scott Booth, who also cut his teeth at big clubs such as Aberdeen, Borussia Dortmund and FC Twente. After an unsuccessful spell as manager of Stenhousemuir, he switched his attention to the women’s game and was appointed by City in July 2015, leading them to the title in his first season. His counterpart will be Jason McCrindle, who became Jeanfield’s manager in December 2015 and has guided the girls to the last eight of the Scottish Cup. Jason is fully focused on the task at hand and is expecting his team to give it their all and compete with the best side in the Scottish women’s game.
“This isn’t a glamour occasion or a day out – it’s first and foremost a game of football. Can we cause an upset? Realistically, I don’t think anyone will have us down for a win but we will compete for 90 minutes and I firmly believe that we have the girls to cause them problems.
“I want people to be going away from the game talking about us in a positive way with regards to how we play and how good our players are. This isn’t a glamour occasion or a day out – it’s first and foremost a game of football. Glasgow City’s team is full of quality, from league and cup winners to Scottish internationals so it’s not going to be easy but we’ve earned the right to play them.”
As well as being an eye-catching tie for the Jeanfield ladies, it’s also a chance for them to put their defeat by Glasgow City in the League Cup earlier in the season behind them. City ran out 8-0 winners in their previous meeting, as their quality shone through despite Swifts’ best efforts on the day.
Results have picked up since then though and after an impressive 3-1 victory over Hearts in their SWPL2 clash last weekend, they’re unbeaten in the last three games and go into this weekend’s match with confidence. Midfielder Emma MacLean was part of the squad that was humbled by Glasgow City last time around but is looking forward to proving a point on Sunday.
“I think the exciting thing about playing this game is that it’ll allow us to see the progress we’ve made since the 8-0 defeat at the start of the season. It’ll be interesting to see how far we’ve come and if we can improve on the previous result.
“They’ve got a squad filled with top quality players and I think coming up against each and every one of them will be a test but it’s one that we’re all looking forward to. These games are the most exciting as we have nothing to lose and we’ll give it our all for the 90 minutes.
“At the moment, there’s a great deal of confidence among the squad after our recent results and performances, so we’ll go out there with a positive attitude and do all we can. The second half of the season has shown everyone just how much we’ve improved as a team and how much stronger we’ve become. We’re here to compete and to win.”
Although they’re underdogs for the game, the fact that they’re even going toe-to-toe with the country’s best is a testament to how far they've come. The team is part of the Jeanfield Community Club, alongside the men’s side who play in the top-flight of the Scottish East Region Junior Football League and the club’s many youth sides.
There are currently eleven players in the ladies’ first team squad who are 21 and under, with the youngest being just 15-years-old. We’ll go out there with a positive attitude and do all we can. We’re here to compete and to win. The club has worked hard to bring as many young girls into football and currently boasts numbers of around 70 girls and ladies who play with the club week-in-week-out. It’s beginning to bear fruit as well, with a number of the current first-team squad coming through the ranks as well as players receiving international recognition.
Three of the club’s youngsters are currently attending a Scotland women’s under 15s training camp at the Inverclyde Sports Centre which is running over three days, and senior team member Leah Fleming has been included in the Scotland women’s under 17s squad heading to Slovenia later this month to play two international matches.
This weekend’s match against Glasgow City takes place at the McDiarmid Park Astroturf pitch on Sunday 10th September with kick-off at 4pm.
Jeanfield Swifts Community Football Club has youth teams for boys and girls across a wide range of age groups. You can find out more on the different kids’ sides and how you or your kids can get involved by visiting the club’s website.
The photographs for this article are courtesy of local photographer, Stuart Cowper. You can view more of Stuart’s pictures by visiting his website.
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