The phrase “always the bridesmaid, never the bride” could easily have been coined to describe Spartans Women in their recent attempts to win silverware.
After four successive Premier League Cup final losses, the Ainslie Park girls have another chance to banish their trophy drought when they contest their first-ever Scottish Cup final against Glasgow City at Broadwood Stadium on Sunday (kick-off 2pm).
Midfielder Kerry Montgomery believes the pain of previous defeats is all the motivation her side need to finally get their hands on silverware.
Glasgow City are Scotland’s undisputed top dogs having won the last ten domestic trophies up for grabs, but Spartans last month upset the odds when they inflicted a first league defeat on the champions in six years. That victory for Debbi McCulloch’s side has given rise to hopes that women’s football in Scotland may see the emergence of a new and refreshing challenge to City’s vice-like grip on the game.
“Anything can happen in a cup final,” said midfielder Montgomery. “The fact we have already beaten City this season gives everyone extra confidence going into the final.
“We’re very proud of that win and it reinforces the notion that they’re not unbeatable. At the end of the day, it’s 11 against 11.
“They know they must take us seriously because we’re the only side to have beaten them, and we know how dangerous they can be, so it sets it up nicely.
“City have been using Broadwood for their home games this season so that could give them a slight advantage, but we plan to exploit the wide open spaces. We’re used to playing on bigger pitches, more so than most, and I think the surface at Broadwood will suit us.
“We’ve gone very close to winning trophies in the past, but those defeats have given the girls a drive and a determination to succeed. We know the feeling of coming runners-up and no-one wants to relive that feeling on Sunday.
“These are the games that everyone aspires to be part of and I’m really looking forward to the experience. It will be a fast-paced, competitive match and that’s exactly the type of game that drives me.”
Montgomery has been a revelation for Spartans this term and has scored 12 goals in 26 appearances from midfield. She has made an impressive impact since stepping up from the reserve side late last season after initially dropping down to focus on her career as an area manager of a beauty retailing company. The 26-year-old has subsequently taken a demotion at work in order to focus on her football.
Having made that brave decision, she is now setting her sights on securing silverware and earning her first call-up into Anna Signeul’s Scotland side.
“Over the last few years I’ve focused on my career and playing for the reserves allowed me to keep my foot in the door, whilst retaining a certain level of fitness,” said Montgomery.
“Stepping back into the top flight has been the best decision I’ve made. It’s not been without a lot of hard work, but I’ve found where I want to be now and I look forward to what the seasons ahead bring.
“My family have been a huge support to me since I decided to commit more to football – I wouldn’t have been able to push myself on as much as I have without them. I’ve had a good season and made a real positive impact on the team.
“It’s my first full season back in the top flight and I’m really happy with how it has gone. I’m working towards cementing myself in the Scotland set-up and gaining my first senior cap.
“Winning the Scottish Cup would be one of, if not the highlight of my career. It would be fantastic both personally and for the club.”
Spartans had been Scotland’s form team going into the final weekend of the Scottish Women’s Premier League season before slipping to a surprise 5-1 defeat from city rivals Hibs.
Montgomery said: “We are treating the Hibs result as a wake-up call. “That result, whilst disappointing, doesn’t take away from the great form we’ve been in over the last few months. We have confidence that there’s always goals in us every game.
“We have found strength in our back line, especially having Danni [Pagluarilo] and Suzi [Shepherd] as our centre-back partnership, as they have so much experience in the game. We know we’ll need to be strong defensively on Sunday, but if we stand up to them, as we did in the recent league game, then we will give ourselves a terrific opportunity of winning the cup.”