Ahead of the 2020 season, we’ll catch-up with every single Scottish Building Society SWPL team. From new Head Coaches, new signings, and new aspirations, it’s set to be another exciting campaign.
We spoke to Hamilton Academical Head Coach, Gary Doctor. Hamilton narrowly finished as runners-up in SWPL 2 last season, just six points behind winners Heart of Midlothian. They’ll be planning on going one better in 2020.
How are excited are you for the 2020 season? We are looking forward to the challenge already. It doesn’t really seem like we have ever been away with how manic the post-season was and then starting back our pre-season in December.
What do you make of the changes for the new season? For the most part I think positive. We have seen already the number of player movements with the restructure and with some clubs officially becoming professional it will increase competition which can only benefit the product on show and ultimately the national teams.
What are your aims and ambitions for the new season? When you come as close as we did last year, there is only one thing you want for the next year. We recognise how difficult that is going to be though and we will be taking no games for granted. I believe SWPL 2 will be the most competitive League in the country again and the standard of player now playing in the division is better than it has ever been. We have made a few Quarter-Finals and been hit with very tough draws in the last few years so it would also be good to make it to a Semi-Final in 2020.
With the new season around a month away, how have preparations been so far? They have been really good. With 27 league games we realised early on we need the squad to cover that demand but also sign quality players to make our environment even more competitive. We have intentionally taken SWPL 1 teams for matches to make it tough. If that is where we want to play then we must be working towards competing at that level again.
Do you have plans to/have you had much change to the squad? With the new structure removing Development teams we have had to say goodbye to some really loyal players who all went with our best wishes however we always want to move forwards as a club and it was right we brought in some exciting young talent as well as some experienced heads. As always though it is important you keep your own top performers and I’m glad that we have done that. It shows where we are going as a club.
For perhaps new fans of the women’s game, who are some players in your squad they should look out for? I would encourage people to come and watch us. We try to play exciting attacking football that supporters want to see and I think we have a number of players who contribute to that style. Our Captain, Amy Anderson, was SWPL 2 player of the season last year and midfielder Kirstie McIntosh was nominated for the same award. If it is the spectacular you like to see though then Nichola Sturrock tends to pull a few special goals out the bag every season.
As well, are there any new/younger players we may see more of in 2020? I think this could be a big season for Tiegan McCann who has been around our 1st Team for awhile but has struggled with injury. Shes finally got a full pre-season under her belt and is ready to go.
Part of our recruitment was young, hungry players and we have that in Alise Stewart who starred for Celtic’s reserves last year and Darcy Molley who was one I think flew under many radars but is already showing maturity beyond her years in midfield.
Experience was also vital and Georgie McTear and Hannah Coakley have that in spades as well as real quality to bring to our defence.
You start the new season at home to Stirling University. What do you make of that fixture? It’s certainly an interesting start and continues the theme we have had in the last few years of perceived crunch matches to begin. We will be doing our homework and giving ourselves the best chance possible for an opening win.
How important do you think it will be to get off to a good start? We lost out on the title by six points last year – we didn’t win any of our first three League matches. It is absolutely crucial we start well and it is a point we are making very clear to the players.
Finally, what would you say to encourage people to come and support your team this season? We were just short of 100 goals scored last season so there is rarely a dull moment with us! If it is attacking football with some really exciting flair players you want to see then Hamilton is the place to come on a Sunday.
On top of that we play at New Douglas Park which is one of, if not the best venue in the country for watching domestic Womens football. Our matchday experience is just as important for supporters as what happens on the pitch and that’s a testament to our support staff and Hamilton Academicals continual support of Women’s football.