Time to take a fresh look at women’s football

Leanne Ross. Scottish women's football (Pic: John Devlin)
Leanne Ross. Scottish women's football (Pic: John Devlin)

It is currently the worst time of the year.

You might notice your friends and family showing the same symptoms that I have, especially when they flare up around 3pm on a Saturday afternoon: forlorn looks out the window, a sense of melancholy, endless flicking through the TV channels.

While others are out making the most of the sun (what little there is), going to various events around the Kingdom, I, and people like me, wait for mid-August.

Yes, the football season has ended.

At first it feels like a bit of a relief. There is so much important football taking place in such a short space of time – from the Champions League final to the various play-offs taking place around the UK – that it is nice to have a break once it comes to an end. But then you notice the emptiness of the calendar – there’s no football.

You find yourself sifting through all the transfer rumours and gossip, the will-he-wont-he scenarios that pop up through the summer months, desperate for the smallest nuggets of football-related information.

And the most exciting moment is when the fixture lists are released. You even start to convince yourself that the Betfred Cup is important. It’s a desperate situation for supporters.

But there are games out there.

Women’s football is undervalued, and it gets little attention or love in Scotland.

I found this out in my previous job.

I worked in a job collecting statistics at football games – a job that took me around the east coast and central belt of Scotland to grounds that I’d never visited before.

I got to visit such beautiful locations as Stenhousemuir, Dundee and Airdrie.

Most often I’d cover East Fife home games and St Johnstone’s development side at McDiarmid Park. But in my second season working in the role I was asked to cover an East Fife Girls and Women’s FC match.

It was the first women’s game I’d seen – and it quickly dispelled all of the stereotypes associated with it.

The football was end-to-end, and with no linesmen the offside rule wasn’t exactly strictly enforced. It was all out attack.

And don’t assume that the women’s game is soft: there were some horrendous challenges put in, proper two-footers, and one player was given a straight red for arguing with the referee (one can only imagine what she said).

But most importantly, the game was entertaining – and more so than most of the football you’ll see on television.

The problem is most people assume the higher valued the league, the more entertaining the football.

But, as someone who was watching a lot of football – and I’ve watched enough development league football to last a lifetime – I found that was not the case.

Watch any Manchester United game and you’ll be lulled into a coma. I’d much rather watch East Fife women play than Jose Mourinho’s band of misfits hoofing the ball.

So, if you’re a football fan and looking for a fix during these quiet summer months, give the women’s game a chance.