Progression – Celtic Women – 24/02/23


In the modern world, quite rightly, football is a game for all. Gone are the days of male exclusivity, bans on female participation and discriminatory laws. In Scotland, no matter your background, sexuality, age, race or ableness, there are opportunites to play and spectate the beautiful game. However, just as in most countries around the world, men’s football takes centre stage up here. Most chat is dictated around the SPFL, with other branches of the sport taking a back seat in the mainstream media. Slowly, but surely, this is beginning to change. The increasing popularity of the Scottish Women’s Premier League (SWPL) is beginning to prove that there is an appetite for something other than the traditional men’s game we all know and love.

It has not been an easy road, though. After the successes of unofficial women’s World Cups in 1970 and 1971, UEFA invited member nations to a vote to bring international women’s teams under the banner of their respective organistations. The vote went through by a resounding result of 31 for and only 1 against. Embarrasingly, Scotland were that sole organisation. It wouldn’t be after sustained pressure that the SFA gave in and awarded women’s football recognition in 1974.

Since then, women’s football has gone from strength to strength. With an increasing number of female footballing role models on the domestic and international stage, the Scottish Women’s Football League was born in 2002. The organisation contained 4 divisions and ran for 3 years, before the top division broke away to form the SWPL we know today.

For the early years of the league, it was largely dominated by Hibernian, who won 3 of the first 5 league titles, bringing through some wonderful talent for the national team in the process. Since Hibs’ last league win in 2007, only one side bore its name on the trophy for the following 14 campaigns; Glasgow City. Their consistency has been incredibly profound and impressive, especially given as they are a completely independent women’s club, with no professional men’s side in their ranks. It has only been in the last year or two where competition has really cranked up. Celtic and Rangers have seen the potential of women’s football, with both clubs pumping plenty of investment into their respective sides. It has paid off, with The Gers pipping City to the summit to win their first ever league title in 2022.

However, as it is their home game, my focus is on Celtic. Founded in 2007, Celtic are a rising prospect in the SWPL. Bolstered by the finances of the overall club, the women’s side turned fully professional in 2019, showcasing a high ambition to become a major player in both Scottish football brances. They would be the first women’s club to do so. However, success has been relatively light thus far. The club have reached four Scottish Women’s Cup finals, losing three, all to Hibernian and winning one; a 1-0 victory over Glasgow City in 2021. They also have a sole Scottish Women’s Premier League Cup, dispatching of Spartans 4-1 in 2010.

Before kick-off on a cold Friday night, Celtic sit in second place, three points behind Glasgow City. Today’s opponents, and Old Firm rivals Rangers, lie only a point behind The Hoops. A win for Celtic would see them climb to the summit on goal difference, while a loss leaves them third in a three-horse race for the SWPL title. All to play for, with major bragging rights at stake.


Celtic play their home matches at Airdrieonians’ Penny Cars Stadium. It suits its purpose well, and makes sense for Airdrie to rent it out as much as they do, with Celtic B and Glasgow University also playing their home games in North Lanarkshire.

The four almost identical stands is a decent aesthetic, with the 10,000 capacity sizeable if not ambitious. The artificial playing surface is one of the better ones in Scotland. It allowed for a fast-flowing match and didn’t give the stickiness that other plastic pitches offer.

Overall, the Penny Cars seems a suitable home for Celtic at the moment. It is relatively close to home, has a decent surface to play positive football and is more than big enough to host a good number of spectators. Just as in the Airdrie write up, the Penny Cars scores 3.5/5.


I’m a big fan of Friday night matchdays. I feel it helps to bring a larger and louder crowd to the contest. Theres no better feeling than the working week ending and a match to watch under the floodlights. Others seem to agree, with a sizeable crowd drawn to a top-of-the-table Old Firm clash. A full stand was essentially packed out, with supporters of both clubs sharing a side each. Crowds this size are a good sign, and give hope for continued progression and exposure for the women’s game.

The crowd is very mixed in comparison to a typical men’s game. It is fantastic to see so many youngsters turning out with their parents to see their future role models in the flesh. With so many kids in attendance, naturally the atmosphere turns more family-friendly. The shouts, chants and abuse you typically hear on a Saturday afternoon are subdued, largely replaced with an aura of positive affirmation. It’s a nice change from hearing grown men shouting at players for doing their job. 3/5.

Quality of the Match

With the two sides only a point apart in 2nd and 3rd, my guest and I were expecting a cagey encounter with little to separate the two sides.

Celtic started the brighter, and had the first real opportunity of the match. After a mazy run by Jacyta Galabadaarachchi, she set up fellow forward Amy Gallacher for a strike at goal. The shot may have fizzed wide, but Celtic were proving their quality early on.

After contained pressure, the hosts took the lead. A corner from the far side was aimed to the 6-yard box, and with Rangers ‘keeper Jenna Fife flapping, centre-back Caitlin Hayes rose highest to nod the ball into the net. A deserved lead.

Rangers almost struck back in bizarre fashion. A cross/shot from the far side almost caught stopper Pamela Tajonar out, but she did incredibly well to tip the ball over the crossbar.

Rangers continued to press but seemed heavily reliant on long-shots and cross balls. The Celtic defence stood strong to bat anything that came their way, and with Jacynta’s pace and directness, the counterattack was always an option.

Half Time: Celtic 1-0 Rangers

The second half started with a bang. Chinese international Shen Menglu burst down the left and skipped past right-back Rachel Mclauchlin. Menglu’s cross was not dealt with, and Amy Gallacher pounced to roll the ball into the net. Rangers now had a mountain to climb.

That mountain became even steeper two minutes later. Another Jacynta corner found the head of Caitlin Hayes once more to power a header into the top corner. Rangers’ failure to deal with cross-balls and set pieces were proving costly. Celtic were flying.

From the 60th minute onwards, Rangers dominated possession but could not find a killer touch. Jenny Danielsson’s headed miss from 8 yards summed up the Gers’ evening.

With the game essentially won and the contest nearing its conclusion, Celtic would not be denied their clean sheet. After an excellent ball over the top, Danielsson found herself clear through on goal, but an excellent last ditch challenge stopped a consolation. It was celebrated almost as well as the three goals at the other end and put the icing on the cake for the hosts, who rise to the top of the table.

Full Time: Celtic 3-0 Rangers

With the two teams so close in the league and bragging rights on the line, I was expecting a closer battle. I had watched Rangers dismantle Hibs a couple weeks previous, but the visitors could not find a finish. Instead, their plan to fire long-shots and put balls into the box were well dealt with by the Celtic defence, and no plan B looked forthcoming.

Celtic on the other hand were incredibly ruthless in front of goal. They must have sensed Rangers’ insecurities from set-pieces and scored two similar goals from corners. Even with their dominance in the air, some of the football they played on the floor was a joy to watch at times. Their midfield controlled much of the match, and with Jacynta and Menglu providing directness, pace and flair it is no wonder they are feared by every defence in the league. They were exciting to watch.

Overall, despite the one-sidedness of the contest, this was a great game of football. It was incredibly open for the most part, with both teams pressing for goals at all times. The level of play was impressive, and it is clear to see that it is improving year after year. The future is bright. 3/5.


For a top of the table clash, the entry price of £8 is an absolute no brainer. There are calls that this level of pricing is undervaluing the product, but this accessibility can only benefit the women’s game in the long run. Cheaper tickets = more exposure = increased interest. I’m sure plenty of punters will have been impressed with the level they witnessed. Progression takes time, but it seems we are definitely on the right track. 5/5.

Full Score

Celtic Women finish the weekend with a score of 14.5/20 and rise to the upper echelons of the TSFA League Table. I thoroughly enjoyed my first live exposure of the SWPL and will be making every effort to take in plenty more in the coming weeks and months, particularly with the increasing expansion of the women’s pyramid. I encourage you all to do the same. You won’t regret it.

– Connor

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