2014 was an all action year of girls’ football in the Scottish FA’s North Region, with teams excelling across the age groups and international call ups for local players.
With no 17s girls’ league this year in the North Region, the 16s league made its debut and was won, after an exciting title race, by Aberdeen Ladies. Manager Derek Gordon praised his side, who fought off close competition from Deveronvale to win the league and cup double.
He said: “The girls did well. We were undefeated in the league and we only drew once, against Deveronvale. I’m delighted with the girls. It’s their last year at 16s and a lot of them will be going up to the senior Aberdeen teams.
“Georgia Carter was called up for the Scotland squad at 15s and Lauren Gordon was called up for the 16s. Lauren went to Helsinki and Georgia was called up for the game in Glasgow against Germany 15s.”
Deveronvale 13s also had a successful season, winning the league and, for the first time at 13s, the cup as well. Head coach Amanda Allan couldn’t speak highly enough of her team who had to overcome difficulties at the start of the campaign.
She said: “We started off really low on numbers at the start of the season and we had a really mixed group. We were forced to play girls who were nine years old so we had a four-year gap in our team lines. The younger ones, although they were technically able, the physical side of the game maybe caused them some problems.”
Amanda also recounted their cup final victory over Aberdeen in September saying, “It was quite an emotional day for the girls playing out in front of their parents and a big crowd. Normally they’re just used to focusing on their game and not worrying about what’s going on around them. So there was a lot of nerves in the team. One of the stronger players said she actually felt physically sick and that she couldn’t feel her legs. I thought ‘oh no, I hope the nerves don’t get the better of them.
“They took a few minutes to settle into the game and they went down 2-0. But I wasn’t panicking, I knew once we settled we’d be okay and we’d start to pass the ball about. And that’s what they did. Our youngest player, and I think she was the youngest player on the pitch for both teams, Anna Grant scored two cracking goals to get us back to 2-2 by half time and her sister Lucy Grant went on to score the winning goal in the second half.
“Aberdeen were very strong in the last 10 minutes and had a couple of great chances. Some brilliant goalkeeping and defending by Flora Bruce saved us.
"We were very lucky in the last few minutes to hold on for the 3-2 win, but it was a very pleasing final.”
Deveronvale and Aberdeen ultimately finished comfortably clear of the chasing pack, but Amanda did notice the other teams in the league getting stronger as the season went on.
She said: “I did see a difference between the first round of fixtures and the second. There was a huge improvement in some teams. In the second part of the season there wasn’t such a big gap in goals because everybody had tightened up. But we were very lucky because our goalkeeper had a fantastic season and she didn’t concede many goals at all throughout the whole of the season.
“It was a fantastic season, especially for being such a young squad. I think the development of the club has been excellent. The girls are like a family, there's never any squabbling from them - they are very hard-working. They’ve got a lot of passion and a lot of drive. The older ones have really looked after the younger players, they’re training with them on a weekly basis and it’s brought them along probably a bit quicker than maybe they would have by themselves.”
Jo Murphy, Girls and Women's Club Development Officer for the North Region has been impressed with the standard of teams during the season.
She said: "Both League Cup Finals were played to an excellent standard and was a good showcase for the girls; game in the region. The move to a U13/U16 league structure by clubs at the beginning of the season has also been beneficial in a number of ways with no teams forced to fold due to lack of players. The younger teams in the league have also developed with games becoming much more competitive over the course of the season."
“2015 looks to be a promising year for the girls’ game in the North as a number of new teams enter the leagues for the first time. We look forward to another exciting and competitive season.”