In its first season as a national competition, the Scottish Women’s Championship has proven highly competitive, with results hard to predict and every team capable of taking points off every other team on any given day.
Like the profile of the league itself, the players in the Championship have also grown and developed over the course of the season, including some impressive individual stories of bravery, dedication and sporting success. Veterans have added quality and experience to the league while some youngsters have found themselves playing a very high level of competitive football and not looking out of place.
There were many, many standout players across the season, but taking into account personal growth, influence and appearances in our regular Team of the Month, let’s have a look at the Team of the Season:
Francesca Millar, Morton
It takes enormous character for a goalkeeper to come back from a shoulder fracture in only the second game of the season, fight back to reclaim the gloves from two good keepers in Asha Caines and Megan Felgate, all amidst a challenging season where your team struggled to pick up points. But to do so at just 15 years of age is a huge indicator of the talent and potential in Morton’s young keeper. Millar proved her worth with some outstanding shot-stopping, including a point blank save from the league’s top scorer Angyl Learmonth in a midweek trip to Edinburgh.
Sophie Aitken, Dryburgh Athletic
Dryburgh Athletic had a frustrating start to the season in terms of goals, but they remained a difficult team to break down and their number six has played a crucial role in that. A natural leader on the park who starts moves and can play further forward, Aitken particularly stood out in the Championship and League One cup semi final and final, helping shut out Rossvale then free-scoring FC Edinburgh.
Natasha Frew, Livingston
Perhaps more impressive than Livingston’s acquisitions on their way to the Championship title was the development of the core spine of their team. This was particularly exemplified by their captain, who has developed into a commanding player who is able to read the game, bring the ball forward from defence and make unexpected runs. Frew also notched up some decisive assists at the business end of the season.
Jess Murphy, Livingston
Widely respected by her peers, Murphy showed incredible creativity from defence throughout the season to give Livingston options, chipping in with eight goals at important moments, particularly from set plays.
Morgan Anderson, Rossvale
Rossvale used a big pool of players over the course the season, but Anderson stood out to provide a calmness and stability in midfield, seeming to have a bit more time on the ball than those around her, forging a good partnership alongside Lauren McCulloch.
Angyl Learmonth, Hutchison Vale
Scoring 24 goals in a season is an astonishing feat in itself, but to do so from the midfield of a team struggling with consistency is truly impressive from the Hutchison Vale captain. Although she is the league’s top scorer, Learmonth also provides leadership and creativity to this very young side.
Shannon Mulligan, Livingston
The Livingston midfielder has grown over the course of the season, channelling her combative style to become a real asset both in breaking up counter attacks and providing dangerous balls forward. She has scored some very important goals among her tally of 15, not least a last minute winner against Rossvale in a midweek clash that started her team believing.
Sinead Macleod, Renfrew Ladies
Renfrew’s top scorer has had a habit of making an impact at crucial moments in what has been an impressive season for a side who only narrowly missed out on a play-off spot in the final game. A direct player from the left who frequently injected purpose and energy into her side when it was needed.
Hannah Gordon, Inverness Caledonian Thistle
Caley Thistle may have struggled with consistency this season as they adjust to more time on the road as part of a national league, but the season was notable for the development of those in the team who worked hardest. Gordon may not have scored as many goals as she was known for in previous campaigns but increasingly took a leadership role through the season in a deeper role, filling in the gaps when her team mates were caught out.
Clare Docherty, Ayr United
Having taken a position at the club as head of the women and girls section, many would have been forgiven for thinking former Celtic player Docherty would play an influential part in Ayr United’s progression off the pitch rather than on it this season, but she has proven it is possible to do both. This lively and skillfull forward has at times looked like the fittest player in the league and has made an incredible contribution to the turnaround in the club’s fortunes after a slow start with both assists, counter attacks and an impressive 20-goal tally. An astonishing volley against FC Edinburgh in the Championship and League One semi final just one of many highlights.
Ashley Elizabeth, Livingston
Elizabeth is another player who benefited greatly from the new additions as the season went on, having started the season looking isolated up front at times, the return of Jenn Dodds and the signings of Brogan Anderson and Beth McKay allowed Elizabeth to step into the spotlight, with an impressive hat trick against Renfrew then the crucial equaliser weeks later which clinched the title.