Windsor wonders: Why Musselburgh are proud to have three girls teams in cup finals
Michael Windram had only offered to help set up goals or pick up cones when his eight-year-old daughter first started training at Musselburgh Windsor 13 years ago.
“Within about a month I’d been handed a coaching jacket and that was it,” he recalls. “You get hooked.”
Now coach of Windsor’s under-17s girls, Windram has witnessed the explosion of interest in the female game since then.
Starting with one team, Musselburgh’s numbers have accelerated in that period from 15 to 150 girls, with a complete pathway from under-5s to adults now in place.
Windor’s girls have enjoyed their fair share of success, but this year has been extra special, with three teams at different age groups preparing for cup finals on the same day.
“It’s massive for the girls’ section in terms of profile,” says Windram, whose daughter now plays for the club’s adult team.
The East Lothian community club’s under-17s, under-15s and under-13s won their respective South East Region League Cup semi-finals and will round off their truncated Covid-hit seasons with finals day on November 28.
The triple semi-final success coincided with the end of Scottish Girls and Women in Sport Week. Windsor’s girls were clearly inspired.
The under-17s defeated Dundee United 5-1 thanks to goals from Skye Healey, Nicole Hogg and an Emma Hume hat-trick.
Hogg, who is registered as deaf, has been invited to Team GB trials for the Summer Deaflympics in Brazil next year, and four other under-17s have signed up on soccer scholarships with American universities from next summer.
Windram describes it as an “opportunity of a lifetime”.
He added: “These are the kind of things we are encouraging them to do. We want our girls to move on to better things.
“Am I proud? Massively. The girls have worked so hard after a difficult 18 months with lockdown. They came back really fit and eager to play and to win. They enjoy it. That’s the main thing.”
The under-17s will play Boroughmuir Thistle Purples at East Fife’s Bayview Stadium. On the same day, the under-15s and under-13s are in back-to-back finals at Broxburn’s Albyn Park.
The under-15s overcame Penicuik Athletic Blues 3-1 and will face Blackburn United in their final. The under-13 Whites beat Blackburn United 2-0 to set up a showpiece against Hutchison Vale.
“It was a surprise because a couple of the teams were probably underdogs,” explained club president Allan Russell.
“We’ve not had anything as major as three teams getting to the League Cup final in the same year. We are so proud.
He added: “Girls football is a massive growth area. Just a few months ago we put an advert for new under-7s and on the first night 38 turned up. It was crazy.”
Established more than 70 years ago, Windsor have never had as many registered players.
Access to training facilities is now becoming a “huge issue”, with the Pinkie 3G booked out by the club nearly every night of the week.
“It is a great facility, but we need more,” explained Russell. “Three years ago we had about 370 players in total. Now, across the club we have 750 kids, with girls the biggest growth area, and 200 volunteers.”
It’s a nice problem to have and the girls’ success suggests the numbers are only going to go one way.