Date: 18th November 2023
In this weeks first blog from our resident writer Donald Stewart:
A plea please, for diversity. I don’t mean more women in the game or ethnic minorities or finally, the pledge to have a real commitment to supporting people who have suffered inherent homophobic abuse.
It’s a different type of diversity but it does involve the women’s game.
I used to love the fact that when I looked at the league table for the women’s game, I failed to see a couple of clubs. It was a time that the game was becoming into its own and people were realising that the women could actually tackle, head and even understand the offside rule – often better than referees. But it was nice to consider that Forfar had an oddly named team that could complete at the top and Glasgow City, with a distinctive lack of equality, thus missing sexism by the bucket load, had no men’s team. They were unique and beautiful for it.
It meant I could relish my time in the knowledge that there was a pure form of a game where the likes of Hibernian could even work towards more than one Scottish Cup in a century.
It was so familiar, but so different and great.
With the women’s game being so prominent it appears that we are seeing the new emergence of a league table with sinking familiarity. At the top currently, are Rangers and just behind them, Celtic.
And then, in their Scottish League Cup Quarter Final, six-time winners, Glasgow City suffered a 3-0 exit at the hands of Celtic and there are three more quarter finals to come. And in one of those three ties are Rangers.
For Glasgow City, who won the league last year, it’s been a tough season so far. They are out the first competitive cup and not in the semifinals for the first time in over ten years, out of the Champions League in a manner that was at best disappointing, and they are so far behind Rangers in their title defence that you have to say a minor – or even major – miracle is needed to get them even close to being in contention.
I am gutted.
Because the other three quarter finals feel like a familiar journey towards a familiar final.
I hope not because the joy of the women’s game has been the unfamiliar. We have seen some cracking contests and when the men were struggling, the women provided a chance for us to believe a Scottish team could not only get to a major cup competition but climb out of a group stage. It also was something we thought could see the beginning of a new dynamic in the game which maybe did not pander so much to a big two.
In short, things were done the same but differently.
Now it feels like it is beginning to emerge into the same falsehoods and missed opportunities that we have seen before. And that is not a criticisms of anyone. The teams in Celtic and Rangers’ colours have every right to be winning games and dusting down shelves for trophies. It is an important part of the game that we have opportunities on a level playing field.
The question some may raise, of course is just how level is that playing field when you have the size and might of the big two involved.
The other quarter finals have the romance still intact as Hibs face Dundee United, Partick Thistle take on Montrose and Rangers are at home to Boroughmuir Thistle. The romantic asks for an upset or two as Montrose and Boroughmuir Thistle emerge as winners, they then are drawn together in the semifinal meaning that the final forces those of us who follow football to get to grips with new teams, players and an unfamiliar feeling until it is dubbed a family or friendly final by the media.
Perhaps though that World Cup game where we needed to beat Argentina and were 2-0 up before the game collapsed and we ended with that usual tale being told of almost but not quite was the turning point. Maybe we are hoping for or expecting too much…
Or maybe I am…
It has always been a major attraction that, in the women’s game, they had something to offer that the men’s game did not. Perhaps that joy is being replaced, but I hope that it still has the spirit of adventure it began with as the usual suspects are guilty of a dominance which should always be up for a challenge as teams try and topple them.
‘mon the Boroughmuir…
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