PETERSHILL PARK: History Repeating

After Wrexham exited the Scottish Challenge Cup during part one of my Glasgow groundhopping trilogy, my next installment took me to Petershill Park the following day.

Glasgow City were ending their league campaign at home to Motherwell having secured their 13th consecutive Scottish Women’s Premier League title in the reverse fixture the previous month and, after the game, City would finally get to lift the trophy in front of their supporters.

With Wrexham’s unexpected trip to Ibrox cancelling my plans to attend a match during Women’s Football Weekend in England, I was pleased to be supporting the women’s game north of the border and eager to learn more about a club that’s produced star names such as Erin Cuthbert and Jane Ross.

The Highs

Pre-game walk

During the morning of the match, I spent most of my time plucking up the courage to swap the radiator in my Airbnb flat for the freezing temperatures of Glasgow’s streets, while also contemplating whether I really did get woken up in the middle of the night by a drunk man outside singing about East Fife.

Midday approached and kick-off did likewise. So I decided to wrap up and have a saunter by the nearby River Clyde – and I’m very glad I did.

The air may have been chilling but there was a crispness to it that refreshed my lungs and mind. Being riverside was really serene, too, as the clear skies brought a stillness to the area and also provided some amazing reflective photos.

They were the kind of conditions that made amatuer photographers like myself look half decent and I wished I could have explored further (or left the flat sooner).

I headed back and grabbed a cheap train from Charing Cross station that took me directly to Springburn in the northern fringes of the city, where it was just a short walk to Petershill Park.

Title party

A couple of men’s teams were finishing a match when I arrived at the ground. Petershill FC do use the stadium alongside Glasgow City but they were playing away from home so I didn’t know who the two sides were. All I knew was the side in red were shocking at staying onside.

Almost immediately after that game concluded, the women’s teams emerged and Motherwell gave the champions a guard of honour.

Despite losing 10-0 in the game which clinched the title for their opponents, Motherwell started the game very well, limiting Glasgow’s chances to long-range efforts. However, after 20 minutes, their resistance was eventually broken. Hayley Lauder delivered a corner to the back post and Leanne Crichton bundled the ball in from a yard out.

Strangely, their second goal came from exactly the same play – Lauder’s corner finding Crichton at the back post. Even more remarkably, though, the next two goals were carbon copies of each other as well. Hayley Sinclair twice chipped Morgan Hunter in the Motherwell net from virtually the same position on the left-wing to take Glasgow into half-time 4-0 up.

With the team’s 20th win of the season all but confirmed, Glasgow brought on a number of players in the second half including Scotland international goalkeeper Lee Alexander. She spent much of the 45 trying to keep warm, though, as Kirsty Howat, Leanne Ross, Jordan McLintock and a Nicola Docherty double brought up a 9-0 final score.

Howat’s goal proved to be the most significant, with it being City’s 100th goal of the season and it also stretched her own personal tally to 23 to solidify her standing as the division’s top scorer.

When the final whistle blew, the celebrations began. The SWPL trophy was presented to captain Ross and she joined her teammates for a champagne dousing while orange and black ticker tape flew into the setting sky above them.

The Lows

A little too one-sided

Glasgow City are a great team with some great players and were enjoyable to watch. But after half-time, there wasn’t much excitement left in the tie and for people who watch them every week, I’m not sure there’d be much excitement after their opening goal. After all, this is a side that only dropped three points in the league all season and that was following their title confirmation.

The disparity between City and Motherwell was stark – not only between the playing standard but also when seeing one team in oversized men’s shirts and the other in a sleek and professional get-up. The 13 consecutive titles is impressive, particularly as they don’t rely on a male team for support, but can the rest of Scottish football ever end their dominance?

Hibernian, Celtic and Rangers finished in that order behind Glasgow City and could close the gap with further investment. Meanwhile, Hibs have stopped Glasgow picking up a number of Scottish cups since 2015. But with City in the last eight of the Champions League this year, they could dominate the league for some time yet.

The Verdict

I had a great time at Petershill Park but I did experience a few problems at the match. Firstly, I was very confused when I arrived, as there was very little information available – both online and in person – on how to actually get in. A lap of the ground made me realise the reception entrance was the only place that granted access to the pitch.

When I took a seat, the sun was glaring and the sound system was blaring. I know these factors weren’t totally in the club’s control but I did feel uncomfortable, so I headed for a spot behind the goal. Thankfully, I was allowed to take this vantage point unopposed and I had a really good position on the sidelines.

Adding on from that, all the staff I spoke to were friendly and, although there was no programme available, I appreciated the free Glasgow City player cards I was offered featuring Lauder, Alexander, Crichton and Docherty.

As Petershill Park is essentially a 3G pitch in a leisure centre, it’s not a ground I’m overly keen to visit again. However, with the team playing their Champions League quarter-final tie against Wolfsburg at the ground in March, I would encourage anyone from Glasgow to go and support them.

What they’ve achieved in 21 years of existence as an independent club is remarkable and there’s no telling where they could take the women’s game if they received more regular support.

Glasgow City 9
Motherwell 0

Scottish Women’s Premier League 1

Ground rating: 5/10

Thanks for reading. To keep updated on the latest hops, stories and photos from the mental health stadium tour, you can follow the blog on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

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