Glasgow City full-back Nicola Docherty walked away from the recent Scottish Women’s Football Awards as the Scottish Building Society SWPL1 Player of the Year for 2018.
Although the City defender knew she was nominated, she went along to the awards night with no expectation on winning. “I was saying when I was sat at the table on the night that I didn’t think I would win. People were saying they thought I had a good chance but it’s never really defenders that win that sort of awards so it was a real surprise. I was just buzzing to get nominated to be honest.”
The award capped off a great month for Nicola during which she picked up her seventh league winners medal with Glasgow, as well as gaining a call-up to the Scotland squad for their friendly match against World Champions USA.
So, even after winning a seventh straight title, is it still as enjoyable as the first? “I was asked that before we won it this year and my answer is still the same, for me it gets better each year” said Docherty. “There is always added pressure because everyone is desperate to knock us off the top. I’ve always had pressure at Glasgow City because of the expectation at the club but obviously there was a bit more this year with Hibs getting so close, but that’s what you want.”
Hibs did indeed get close to Glasgow City in the past season with the league effectively coming down to the penultimate game of the campaign between the two sides. Docherty feels that the knowledge she and her team-mates have gained from playing big games helped with any nerves that there may have been. “I wasn’t any more nervous because it was a big game, that’s down to the experience we have at Glasgow City of playing in big matches like cup finals and in the Champions League.”
The Champions League itself provided another high in Docherty’s season as her Glasgow City side made it to the tournament’s last 16. “Yeah it was obviously a highlight, we started back in the qualifying stages which were at Oriam which is great pitches and facilities. We were proud to get to where we got to, we got some great results and playing Barcelona was obviously a great experience.”
Despite giving a good account of themselves, City were eventually beaten 8-0 on aggregate to the Catalan giants as the gap between full-time and part-time eventually told. “The difference is just huge between where we are and Barcelona, they’re eating and having naps between training sessions whilst we’re training after work so it’s a big gap to make up.”
Despite the disappointment of the Barcelona defeat, Nicola still feels she was able to learn from the experience. “We always learn from games like that. Afterwards you can sit down and look back at the game and pick up on things that you did wrong or that you can learn from but it’s not so easy during the game. When you play, you’re concentrating on your job and against Barcelona the atmosphere was really good and you could hardly hear each other shout for the ball, so it’s a bit harder to take learning during the game itself.”
Docherty already has 11 senior caps to her name and she was delighted to receive a call-up to Shelley Kerr’s Scotland squad for the recent friendly against USA. “Playing for Scotland is a huge honour, it’s the most competitive squad we’ve ever had so I was buzzing when Shelley called to say I was getting called-up. It’s always a great experience to be around the squad.”
The competition for places in Kerr’s World Cup squad is sure to be fierce and Docherty will be hoping that she will get the call, should her good form continue in the new year. “Shelley picks her squad on form, it doesn’t matter who you are or who you play for, you have to be playing well to get in the squad. It will be extremely difficult to get into the World Cup squad but I’ll just concentrate on my game like I always do.”
Preparations have already begun at Glasgow City for the next campaign and Nicola says there will be no drop in their ambitions or standards. “We’ve started training and the targets for next season are the same as always at Glasgow City. We want it all, the treble is the target and also to do well in the Champions League. It won’t be easy as Hibs will be there again pushing us all the way and I think Celtic will be a threat too with Eddie Wolecki-Black in charge.”
Finally, Nicola was full of praise for the awards evening in Glasgow here she picked up her Player of the Season award. “It was a really great night. I said at the time that the organisers should be really proud as they had done an unbelievable job with the whole event. When you are playing you don’t get a chance to look around all the other leagues so it was great to hear about them. It also showed the number of volunteers all over the country who give up their time for women’s football, it’s amazing how many there are. It was just a great night to be part of.”