Linlithgow girls do town proud with national Shield triumph

Linlithgow Academy beat Banff to win the Senior Girls Scottish Shield (pic by Scottish Schools Football Association)
Linlithgow Academy beat Banff to win the Senior Girls Scottish Shield (pic by Scottish Schools Football Association)

Linlithgow Academy’s senior girls are national champions after a five-star showing in the Scottish Shield final last Thursday.

The girls returned home with the trophy after a thumping 5-0 win over Banff Academy at Forfar.

Sophie Walker was the star of the show with four of Linlithgow's five goals.  (pic by Scottish Schools Football Association)

Sophie Walker was the star of the show with four of Linlithgow's five goals. (pic by Scottish Schools Football Association)

Four of the goals were scored by Sophie Walker and the fifth came from Elvie McLean.

Many of the team are Rose Ladies players, with some internationals and others with professional contracts waiting for them to leave school.

It was the first of two national finals teams from the school have reached this year, with the S2 boys also appearing in their Shield final.

Inspired by a good luck video message from the LRCFC Girls U11 squad, the mood from kick-off was positive and from the off the Linlithgow girls took the game to their northern opponents.

It took only seven minutes for the deadlock to be broken, Louise Anderson winning the ball at left back and providing a superb ball for Kirsty Barnes to race down the left and deliver the cross which Walker slammed home.

The Academy were posing by far the greater threat and Jennifer Brown saw a shot rattle off the bar with the keeper beaten.

It remained just 1-0 at half-time but coach Paul Hopwood, a figure of calm as always in all the excitement, had a simple message – just keep doing the same. And the same they did, in spades.

And 13 minutes into the second half Walker’s neatly slotted goal into the bottom corner put daylight between the teams.

It was one-way traffic from then one and Sophie notched her third with a solo effort.

The fourth come with a great passing move. Ellie Johnston’s tenacity in the middle saw the ball land with Anna Johnston, who pierced Banff with a sublime ball through from the edge of the D for Sophie to notch number four.

A somewhat demoralised Banff did well to stop the score racking up further until the dying minutes, when Elvie McLean stroked home from close range.

Overall it was a night of huge joy and emotion for the players, coaches and and the inspirational Miss Laurie Adair. With no fewer than nine of the girls officially ceasing to be pupils of the Academy three and a half hours after the final whistle it was a brilliant way for the end of their football careers in the Academy as they move on – two of them, Anna and Beth, to continue their football development in the USA in West Virginia and Illinois respectively in the summer.

The town, Academy, supporters and families of these amazing young women should be rightly proud of their achievement.

Squad: Louise Anderson, Kirsty Barnes, Jennifer Brown, Rachel Corrie, Hannah Cockburn, Emily Earsman, Louise Featherstone, Beth Hopwood, Laura Hopwood, Anna Johnston, Ellie Johnston, Lucy McEwan, Elvie McLean, Megan McLeod, Aimee Cockburn, Sophie Walker.