Groundhop 1881 – Scotland Women

UEFA European Championship Qualifier
Scotland Israel
Saturday, 16th June 2012, 3pm
Tynecastle Stadium (Heart of Midlothian FC)
Entrance £5 (Wheatfield Stand only), Programme free
Distance 420 miles, Attendance 817
With women starting to embrace football in the late 19th Century, the first known recorded women’s matches were a series of games between England and Scotland in 1881. On 7th May Easter Road, hosted the first of these leading to some disparaging comments in the Glasgow Herald, but the 3-0 Scot’s victory appears to have been the series’ success story. In later games pitch invasions, protests, and venue cancellations, caused severe disruptions.
Without a suitable map, staff at Edinburgh airport listened patiently, before pointing me towards the Airlink bus. On a good day this route is lined with fine architecture, a zoo and Murrayfield; today the rain beat down and windows steamed up. As Hibernian left “the old” Easter Road in 1893, at Waverley Station I hailed a cab to their “new” Easter Road Stadium (on Albion Road). On the way the driver enthusiastically disclosed a potted history of; the area, potted roads, new trams, independence and football. Sadly, I couldn’t gain access to the stadium, so having photographed it from every angle, I strolled back up “the real” Easter Road, back towards Tynecastle.
Founded in 1874, Hearts moved to the Gorgie area of Edinburgh in 1881. Their pitch was originally sited on Wardlaw Street, across the road from Tynecastle, but city expansion forced a move five years later. Arriving at the stadium, as a lone piper greeted the Scottish team, I found riot police and traffic wardens towing every car in sight. It hadn’t crossed my mind that this was a high risk game, but I go to football for sport. Others, as I was about to find out, go to protest.

Despite the concerns, stewards were in fairly good humour and entrance was easily gained, programme found, pie and tea purchased and a seat found in the extremely wet and windy Wheatfield Stand. “There’s nothing like summer football!” quipped a man behind me. His daughter was, despite the unenviable weather conditions, a ball girl for the first time today. As the stand filled up, players warmed-up below us. Then the National Anthems heralded two hours of jeering and Palestinian flag-waving by a huge contingent of protesters as police lined up before them, and the tannoy repeatedly warned of standing in all-seater stadia.
On the pitch the home side were, despite the rain, putting on a wonderful display. Within two minutes Hayley Lauder finished a fine move with an easy tap in. Three minutes later Kim Little made it two, and within another five the impressive Megan Sneddon had thumped the third goal from the edge of the box. Israel were being totally outclassed by a rampant Scotland. 15mins, 4-0, looping header from Joanne Love. A helpless Merav Shamir performed heroics in the Israeli goal, but after good work by Jennifer Beattie, Little’s deflected shot made it 5-0. Three minutes on Jane Ross intercepted a back-pass and rounded Shamir for the sixth and, just before the break, a seventh was added. Ross hit a low cross from the right and Lauder laid it back for the onrushing Little to get her hat trick. The game was so one sided if ever I was going to witness double figures, surely this was the opportunity.
At half time the girls of Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic (another 1881 club) gave a 4-a-side master-class before Scotland kicked off again. Of course it was never going to be as good. Israel had a shot, but the Scots had two long range efforts, Beattie headed on to the post, and there were a couple of comedy moments for keeper Gemma Fay. In the second half only sub Rachel Corsie headed home, then, having applauded the players, I made another rain drenched dash for the bus to the airport.

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Initially appearing in this season’s Watford FC matchday programmes, consequently Groundhop 1881 reports will appear late on here. At the end of the journey, a book will be published telling the full story.
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