A SPECIAL football match between Scotland and England rising stars will take place in Greenock to mark the 50th anniversary of the countries’ first official women’s international fixture.
The girls’ under-15s sides will go head-to-head at Ravenscraig Stadium at noon on Sunday 15 May, almost five decades on from the first game between the two nations held at the Inverclyde sports venue in 1972.
The fixture is being organised by Inverclyde Council in partnership with the Scottish Schools’ Football Association and with support from the English Schools’ Football Association.
Robert Allan, president of the Scottish Schools’ FA, said: “It’s a great honour for this to take place, especially here at Ravenscraig, which is a ground the Scottish Schools’ Football Association has used in the past.
“Coming back to Greenock again for an international game is a big feather in the cap for both the Scottish Schools’ Football Association and Inverclyde.”
Mark Hignett, chairman of the English Schools’ FA, said: “The English Schools’ Football Association is honoured to accept Scotland’s invitation to mark this very special occasion.
“I know that both countries are quite rightly very proud of the opportunities they provide for girls to play football at all levels and this celebratory event is the perfect way to acknowledge this whilst also marking the 50th anniversary.
“We look forward to visiting our friends from Scotland and jointly celebrating this important anniversary in the hope it inspires more females to play the beautiful game both now and into the future.”
Scotland full-back Millie Paton (14), a member of the under-15s squad and a pupil at Clydeview Academy in Gourock, said: “I’m really excited and it’s an honour to be playing in this international match. I was very excited when I found out. A bit shocked at first but very excited.
“The talent is really good now all over the women’s game so it will be great to have it on display from both Scotland and England here where it all started.”
Gillian Duffy, vice-president of the Scottish Schools’ FA and under-15s assistant coach, said: “It’s really exciting, especially for me coming from Greenock and knowing the history of the game around the area, to have an opportunity for our girls to play a home game in front of my home crowd and the players’ home crowd is just phenomenal.”
The Scotland versus England international at Ravenscraig Stadium, Greenock, on Saturday 18 November 1972 was the first officially recognised match between the nations. | Read more about the historic game FIFA
The women that played that day had varied success and careers in football afterwards, the most notable being 17-year-old Rose Reilly, who went on to play for A.C. Milan and win the World Cup with Italy.
Councillor Ronnie Ahlfeld, Inverclyde’s sports champion, said: “I was actually at that first international match at Ravenscraig. I do remember it well and remember Rose Reilly playing.
“It’s not often Inverclyde has the honour of hosting an international sporting event and I’m relishing the opportunity to return to Ravenscraig on 15 May to mark this important anniversary and to cheer on the next generation of stars.”
The fixture will form part of a summer of events as part of the council’s Meliora Festival, which will also include Gourock Highland Games, British Pipe Band Championships, Inverclyde Warrior 5k hosted by Inverclyde Leisure and a visual arts spectacular being organised by the Beacon Arts Centre.
Councillor Jim Clocherty, depute leader of Inverclyde Council and convener of education and communities, said: “This is a fantastic honour for both the Scotland girls’ team and also for Inverclyde as a whole to not only be hosting an international match between Scotland and England but to be doing so to mark this special anniversary of the first official international between the sides here at Ravenscraig Stadium.
“It will be an exciting occasion for people from near and far who will be travelling to the area especially for the match and I’m sure it will be an excellent showcase of the incredible talent coming through the ranks of the girls’ and women’s game, including our very own Inverclyde rising star Millie.”