Hibs make a statement of intent but hopes high that record-breaking feat is just the start

Hibs are hoping that the competitiveness that drives Scottish football can help force up attendances in the women’s game.

This evening, Hibs will host the nation’s biggest ever crowd for a women’s club game when they take on capital rivals Hearts in front of over 6,000 spectators under the Easter Road floodlights.

It is double the tally recorded when the Leith side played Glasgow City in the Scottish Women's Cup final two years ago and, according to Hibs manager Dean Gibson, it is an illustration of the club’s improved engagement and the burgeoning interest from fans as the women’s game continues to grow in stature and popularity.

“The hope is that we do this and that inspires others and maybe Rangers will look to break our record,” said Hibs boss Dean Gibson. “Then Celtic will want to beat their record, or Hearts will break it. Hopefully, Hearts will return the favour and play the next derby at Tynecastle because records are there to be broken and let’s just hope that every year, we keep breaking it because that means attendances are going up and more people are showing an interest in our game.

Hibs defender Joelle Murray has played at Easter Road before but never infront of a crowd as big as the one expected for the derby match against Hearts. Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group

“The league is more professional now and it is better that way. If we have four, or five, or even six teams every year competing for trophies or league titles or Champions League positions that makes it more attractive to sponsors and allows us to bring money into the league and that allows us to improve further. So, I’d much rather it’s this way, albeit it’s harder for us than it was three or four years ago. But it is the way things needed to go.”

One half of a footballing duopoly that has dominated the women’s game in recent times, either Hibs or Glasgow City have claimed the last nine Premier League Cups, and since 2003 those two have dominated the Scottish Women’s Cup, while only Kilmarnock, back in the inaugural 2002/03 season have denied the pair a clean sweep of the Premier League titles.

“But now it’s not just us and Glasgow City, you’ve got Rangers and Celtic, Aberdeen are in the league now, Hearts, Spartans have always been very competitive, and Motherwell are showing a bit of investment as well. It is an exciting time.

“We hope every club, every year can invest a little bit more and eventually it turns full-time.”

But, while they welcome the competition, they still want to win, especially when it comes to the derby and especially in front of a record crowd, under the lights, at Easter Road.

“It shows there is an appetite for it and an appreciation for the product out on the pitch,” said Hibs defender Joelle Murray. “Hopefully we can get the win and show our full potential because we want the supporters who are coming along to like what they see and become repeat customers.

“The international game last week, at Hampden, I think the crowd was just under 5,000, so if we can get more than that at Easter Road it will be a real statement of intent from the club.

“It is going to be special. There has been a massive build up and we are all excited but we need to stay focused on the three points.”

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