Before the historic story of 2016 in Scottish Women’s Football finishes, there is one more chapter to write – the 2016 SSE Scottish Cup Final.
There’s a feeling that for this final, the event is as important as the actual result for the clubs involved: Glasgow City and Hibernian. As that sporting cliché goes, it’s women’s football that wins.
The fact I’m using the acronym SSE is an indication of just what a ground-breaking moment this game is going to be, regardless of the result. This is the first game in Scotland under a commercial sponsor, although previous Cups have been sponsored by trade unions. The SSE deal represents ground-breaking investment at the time that Scotland is preparing to appear at their first ever tournament.
And there was a press conference, held at Hampden Park (alongside the conference for some small male international match) with Glasgow City’s Head Coach Scott Booth and midfielder Hayley Rosen, Hibernian’s Head Coach Chris Roberts and midfielder Lucy Graham, SWF’s Chair Vivienne MacLaren and SSE’s Head of Sponsorship & Reward Colin Banks all in attendance.
When Colin Banks was asked about why SSE had invested in Scottish Women’s Football, he talked about the company’s history in sporting sponsorship. But he went on to mention SSE’s objective of “how do we promote diversity and inclusivity within our own business”, and they felt that they could encourage the same idea in sport. It was this aim that made Scottish Women’s Football a perfect match and he talked about how they would be putting investment in from the grassroots right up to the international level.
Colin also mentioned how he felt SSE’s role was not just financial, but it helping how the game is promoted, how to make the occasion of the final a better experience whilst engaging in both the audience that attends the final and working out how to attract more spectators.
Both the managers of the clubs, Scott Booth of Glasgow City and Chris Roberts of Hibernian, praised the investment from SSE which means that there will be prize money on offer to the winners.
In recent years, the story of Scottish Women’s Football has been the rivalry of Glasgow City and Hibernian, and like last season, the three major domestic trophies have been fought between the two clubs. So far, the score is 1-1. These are the best two clubs in Scotland and this is the best possible final both SSE and SWF could have hoped for.
In the league, Glasgow City secured their historic tenth title in a row, having beaten Hibernian 3-1 two weeks ago. In the three league meetings between the clubs this season, City won all three and conceding just one goal.
Whereas in the SWPL Cup, it was a different story. In a tight game, it was Hibernian who came out 2-1 winners thanks to Lizzie Arnot’s late winner.
Roberts laughed when asked whether the 2,551 fans who turned up for Hibernian’s Champions League game against Bayern Munich – but mentioned that the club was promoting the game this week and said that the club’s loyal fans would be in attendance. He contrasted the feelings the club felt after winning the SWPL Cup and missing out on the league. “We want to win the Scottish Cup, it’s the last game of the year so obviously you carry that feeling whether its a win or loss into the break. We want to go into the break having won two trophies, finish the season on a real high.”
Hibernian’s midfielder Lucy Graham added, “Obviously at the beginning of the season, you have targets, and we’ve ticked off the league cup…you put in the hard work to get into the finals, and two cups would be special.”
If Hibernian win the Scottish Cup, it will the sixth time they have lifted the trophy with their last success coming back in 2010 when they beat Rangers 2-1.
On the other hand, Glasgow City are used to winning the tournament. They’ve won the past five Scottish Cups and this year they are looking for their ninth triumph. Over the past three times they’ve met Hibernian in the final, they triumphed including last year when Clare Shine’s hat-trick saw them win the trophy. However, Hibs have beaten City in the 2007 final – back when Kim Little still played for the Edinburgh club.
Booth talked about his desire for Glasgow City to retain the Scottish Cup, but also talked about how the SWPL Cup would motivate them, saying, “I think from my point of view, it’s always one of those things that hurt you when you lose a trophy, which we’ve done this season – so from that perspective, we want to make sure we finish the season on a high.”
Recent signing Hayley Rosen, who joined the club in July, said on City’s recent league triumph, securing the historic ten in a row, that the whole squad was really excited, but said that “this week, the focus has been totally on this game.”
It’s apparent that even though City’s success in winning their tenth league title in a row, that feeling of accomplishment will be gone if they lose the Scottish Cup.
Vivienne MacLaren, who has been recently elected as the chair of Scottish Women’s Football, added her excitement that the final will be commercialised, saying that with the product having such a high quality, “it’s a great time to be involved.”
Unlike recent finals, this cup final will be held at Hamilton Academical’s Superseal Stadium. She stated the reasons why the SWF had chosen Hamilton’s ground as the new venue
“I think as the game grows, more and more people want to come along to the game, we need to be set up – there’s a lot of families that come, a lot of kids come, we need to make sure the media can literally come in and plug and play. As Colin mentioned, there’s going to be a lot of support from SSE there with activation staff, it’s going to be a great event, so we needed somewhere that would look great on TV, that would give us the facilities to provide a great experience for everyone attending. And really give it that professional angle it deserves because it is a really important event in the calendar.”
The game also targets to be one of the most viewed SWF games ever. With a large attendance expected at Hamilton for the match, partly down to the ‘Adults Go Free’ offer, and with it being broadcast live on BBC Alba. The SWF initiative will see adults go free for every paying child of £5, with the aim of encouraging families to enjoy and return to women’s football in the future.
And of course, Tartan Kicks will be covering the game.