SWPL season kicks off in style this weekend
Friday, 16 March 2012
This weekend sees the start of the 2012 Scottish Women’s Premier League season. With twelve teams competing and the excitement of a league split to come in June, this new season promises to be a memorable one.
A highlight of the opening day fixture card is reigning champions Glasgow City getting their campaign for a sixth consecutive league title underway with a trip to Forfar Farmington. Far from fearing such formidable opposition, Forfar head coach Mark Nisbet is relishing the task his team will face this weekend. Mark said ‘Preparations have gone well through pre-season and we have added a good combination of experience and youth to the team. We are in the unique position of having retained our entire outfield squad which we are delighted about. When the fixtures were announced I was happy that we had Glasgow City in the first game’.
Mark continues ‘Some might think it strange that we're looking forward to hosting the league champions on the opening day. I see it as a challenge and would much rather be playing a top side in our first competitive game. Our last outing at home against them resulted in a last minute winner for City. This time we are hoping to go one better and get off to a flying start by taking something from them, but we're under no illusion how difficult a task it will be. Hopefully we'll have a bumper crowd at Strathmore Park on Sunday for an exciting and entertaining game’.
Another highlight of this weekend’s fixture card is the first Old Firm derby of the season between Rangers and Celtic, with the sides due to meet again next month after they were drawn against each other in the SWPL League Cup quarter-finals. Celtic striker Heather Richards, a recent acquisition from Rangers, scored the only goal of the game in the club’s League Cup defeat of Hibernian last Sunday and she will be looking for a similar outcome against her former club. However, Rangers will approach the match with confidence after their comprehensive 8-1 League Cup victory over Falkirk Ladies last weekend.
In this weekend’s other matches, SWPL Cup holders Hibernian will look to pick themselves up after their elimination from this year’s tournament last weekend at the hands of Celtic as they welcome Inverness City to West Lothian, while newly promoted Aberdeen start life in the top division at home to Hamilton Academical. Aberdeen will be hoping for a positive result to follow up their 3-1 victory over Hutchison Vale in the League Cup last weekend. Meanwhile, Hutchison Vale will travel to Kilmarnock on Sunday, with the Ayrshire side also looking to bounce back after a defeat in the League Cup.
Falkirk Ladies will seek to improve upon their heavy defeat to Rangers last weekend but they face the tough task of an opening day away trip to Spartans. Spartans head coach Debbi McCulloch is very much looking forward to the league season finally getting underway. She said ‘The club have had a very successful and productive pre-season over the past ten weeks. The players have worked extremely hard and have reached maximum fitness, so we are good to go and looking forward to the start of the new season’.
Debbi is optimistic that the new faces in her squad and coaching team will prove useful additions. She continued ‘Mike Ross has joined the coaching staff and has already benefited the team in many ways with his vast coaching knowledge. Chloe Fitzpatrick has re-joined the club from Aberdeen having been on placement up north as part of her university course and Ann Taylor has signed from Hutchison Vale. Also, Nichola Sturrock has moved up from our reserve team to the first team squad’.
Debbi also has her sights set high for the coming season. She said ‘Our main aim this year is to improve on what we achieved last season, where we finished second and made a league cup final, to hopefully compete for the league title. We are also focused on having a strong cup campaign and hopefully we can win a cup this season as the past two seasons have seen us reach the league cup final twice without winning – something that has been extremely frustrating for everyone involved’.
Best of luck to all SWPL teams for the coming season, and indeed all SWF affiliated clubs throughout the divisions and age groups. Here's to an exciting 2012 for all!
The full list of SWPL fixtures up until the split at matchday 11 (Sunday 24/06/2012) can be viewed on the SWF website here