Can a film on trailblazing footballer Rose Reilly coincide with World Cup glory for Scotland?

Coincidence is one of my favourite things.

Tuesday, 12th October 2021, 4:55 am
A new feature film inspired by the remarkable rise of trailblazing Scottish footballer Rose Reilly is in development. Picture: SNS Group Alan Harvey

Finding hidden connections is another.

I encountered so many last week that I gave up counting them.

When film producer Chris Young revealed to me that he was making a film about the remarkable career of trailblazing Scottish footballer Rose Reilly I was intrigued.

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One of my last pre-Covid interviews was with Reilly, who shrugged off a lifetime ban in her home country to go on to win the women’s World Cup with Italy.

Lorna Martin’s play Rose, which charts the player’s journey from working-class Ayrshire to Italian league titles and being voted the best player in the world, was one of the first in Scotland to fall victim to the pandemic, but was also one of the first to bounce back.

I was kicking myself earlier this month at missing out on its eventual arrival on stage in Edinburgh and Glasgow – an admission I made to Reilly when we spoke again last week. Young, who has met with Reilly on several occasions to discuss the film, had earlier floored me when he pointed out the somewhat glaring Italian connections between her story and Gregory’s Girl.

It is the Scottish movie - which sees a lovestruck goalkeeper attempt to learn a new language to impress his Italy-obsessed team-mate - I’ve seen more than any other.It is also far better known in Scotland than Reilly, who was not approached about the comedy and did not even see it for years, as she was living in Italy at the time.

Young actually produced Bill Forsyth’s sequel to Gregory’s Girl. And part of the reason he is drawn to Reilly’s story is his own story of moving to Italy as a teenager after a family holiday.

I was thinking about Reilly’s exploits driving along the M8 on Saturday – just as Scotland were securing a last-gasp victory in their World Cup qualifier at Hampden. That fact both Reilly and manager Steve Clarke hail from Ayrshire is a delightful enough coincidence.

With Young hopeful of being able to shoot his Rose Reilly next year, the men’s team securing World Cup qualification might just be the best coincidence yet.