2018 was a year for Rachel McLauchlan to remember with the wide player contributing significantly to another stellar campaign for Hibernian in both the cups and the league.
Report: Hibernian FC / Image: Craig Doyle
An ankle injury interrupted her form at the beginning of the season, but Rachel recovered and was able to play her part in the SWPL Cup win prior to the summer recess in the women’s game in Scotland.
She spoke about the frustration at the start of the campaign in 2018 and how she worked hard to earn her place back in the team, especially as quality players are vying for starting positions every week at Hibernian.
The winger said: “On a personal level it was very successful. Obviously playing as part of a team where all the girls get on, and we have had a kind of rough spot with Kevin Milne leaving early on in the season, but Grant came in and helped us all.
“Grant has also helped me on an individual level both technically and tactically. I picked a few things up like how to play on the left so it’s been interesting learning that I have a left foot I can use!
“It’s been good individually for me and we retained the two cups which was important and it has been a successful year for both myself and the team.
“My ankle injury slowed me down at the start of the season and I missed out a few games. I picked up the injury at the end of last season and after doing all the rehab on it, it was a hard one to take when I done the exact same thing again.
“I was just lucky that I knew what I needed to do to recover and with the physios that I can use at the club and off scene as well who were so helpful with that.
“It’s always frustrating not playing, especially when you can see the team doing so well and you just want to be in joining in with that. Thankfully it didn’t take me too long and I was just happy to get back in and join in with the rest of the season.
“When I came back I knew that I had to hit the ground running. There is a big amount of competition at Hibs. There are girls who come off the bench and do a fantastic job, so I knew that I had to fight for my spot back in the team – that motivates you at the start of the rehab.
“As a player, you know you need to come back fitter and stronger. You need to show that little bit more in training and in games when you get your chance, rehab sets you up to do that.
“When I came back in I was able to pick myself back up and get the confidence going again.
Once that’s back, you start to get your fitness levels up and your technical side too. To be honest, from that, it all just worked for me and I am thankful that it did.”
Rachel’s 2018 season was capped off as she won the Players’ Player of the Year Award at Hibernian’s awards ceremony, celebrating the successful campaign.
It was something she was not expecting as she cited the quality of the team as being one of the reasons and she thanked her team-mates for their support during the season and believes that it is a collective award given the strength of the side.
Rachel commented: “It means a lot to win the award from your team-mates as it shows that they have thought highly of you and your performances throughout the season, despite being moaned at a few times!
“I wasn’t expecting it at all and I have got to thank the girls. Half the time they probably make me look better than I probably am as it’s a collective thing.
“I’ve just got to thank them and I respect the fact that I was voted to win the award.
“After the season that we have had every single player has had a tremendous season and I am proud of each and every one of them. You could have picked anyone in the team and nobody would have blinked an eye.
“The coaches said that it was a really close call and that also just shows the strength and the quality of the team.”
2019 is going to be a big year for the club and for Rachel personally as she will be aiming to regain her place in the Scotland Women’s National Team ahead of the World Cup in France.
First and foremost, her target is to play her part domestically with Hibernian and says that the side’s targets for next year are the same as they were for 2018 – to secure the SWPL title and retain both domestic trophies.
She is aiming to start off the season with a bang and wants the squad to be as focused as possible at the start of the year to ensure that the tone is set early on for the kind of campaign they are hoping to have.
She said: “I think it is quite clear that we want to win the league. There are obviously other teams that are wanting to close the gap on Glasgow City too, so next year we will definitely be aiming to try and get the league.
“We also want to retain the cups, I think that’s the big thing and we have now kind of made it our own and we don’t want to lose them, just like City with the league.
“Those are the team goals, but individually I want to start off the season where I left it to help the team.
“I’ve been back in training now and the team looks good and it feels good, so a nice break is coming and we’ll start the season running.
“We’re starting a bit earlier next year so everyone needs to be focused at the start and hopefully we can go on and have another successful year.”