Just as with the early evolution of sports like rugby cricket and athletics in the Second City when Glasgow Accies took leading role history is now repeating itself with the advent of Womens Cricket at New Anniesland.
The Herald reports
Gals out to break new boundaries
Susan Swarbrick firstname.lastname@example.org
FROM a playing field on a leafy Glasgow side street comes the distinctive crack of leather on willow. In the centre of the grassy pitch, a small group of women are gathered around a wooden wicket, their laughter carrying in the warm summer air.
Dressed in shorts and borrowed shirts, Scotland’s newest women’s cricket team are getting in some practice. Glasgow Accies Ladies Squad – GALS for short – is the first and only all-women team in the city. Founded in September, it is one of six teams which will contest the inaugural Scottish Ladies Cricket League.
Instrumental in getting the squad up and running was the captain Caroline Sweetman, 27, a Glasgow-based physiotherapist. Sweetman – “Sweets”, as she is known among team-mates – began playing cricket aged 12, is a regular in the Scottish women’s national squad and spent six years playing for the girls’ team at George Watson’s College in Edinburgh. For the past three years, she has turned out for Glasgow Accies men’s team.
Last autumn she and other female players who had been training informally at Glasgow Green as Western Women and Girls, mooted the idea of setting up a women’s club under the Glasgow Accies banner.
The club agreed and the fledgling Glasgow Accies Ladies Squad was formed. “We have 10-15 regulars and would love to get more people along to join us,” said Sweetman. “Anyone can give it a go, even if they have never played cricket before.”
Among the latest additions are Hazel Telford, 23, a PE teacher from Newton Mearns, and Kay Hunter, 36, a head teacher from Bearsden. “The social aspect was a big lure for me,” said Telford. “I don’t enjoy watching cricket on the television and can understand why a lot of people don’t either, but playing is completely different. People think cricket is dull but it’s actually exciting to play.”
Hunter nods in agreement. “People often think you need to have played cricket before but my baseline of experience was nothing,” she said. “Everyone has been great in helping us. There are always people who are newer than you, as well as more experienced players to show you what to do.”
For Samantha Haggo, 18, a business and French student at the University of Glasgow, cricket is in her blood. She began playing aged seven and is a regular for Prestwick CC’s men’s second XI as well as the Scottish women’s squad. Her uncle, David Haggo, was a wicketkeeper for Scotland and her father, Allan, is an umpire in the sport’s Premiership.
“It’s great to see interest in the women’s sport growing,” she said. “I can say from experience that, as a woman playing for a men’s team, it can sometimes feel like you miss out on a lot of the changing-room jokes and social side of things. In a girls team it’s a different atmosphere and such fantastic camaraderie.”
Not everyone is keen, though. “I tried to get my sister involved but she wasn’t up for it,” added Haggo. “She prefers ice skating.”
Joining the GALS when the Scottish Ladies Cricket League starts on Sunday week will be the squads of Stirling County, Ayr, Borders, Kinross and Corstorphine. All six teams will compete in the Scottish Ladies Cricket Cup in July, a competition now in its second year.
Scotland still has a long way to go before it emulates the success of the sport in England and Wales where there is a National Premier League and more than 200 ladies teams playing at regional and county level.
A driving force behind raising the game’s profile on home soil is Kari Anderson, captain of the Scotland women’s team and a development officer for the sport. Anderson, 28, is also the new head coach of the national squad.
“Over the past year we have seen the sport really start to grow in Scotland,” she said. “Outwith those six teams in the league there are other clubs and schools running ladies’ programmes as well. My job is to support not only those teams in the league, but to help the others who aren’t quite at that stage yet.
“Cricket doesn’t get the same publicity in this country that football and rugby do,” she said. “It is our aim to grow the sport to the stage where we have 10 strong and sustainable ladies’ cricket clubs in Scotland within the next three to four years.
“Ideally we would be looking to expand the league to have two divisions within the next four years too. We are realistic, however, that this is the first year of the league, and will need to see how things go.”