Kilmarnock striker Lisa Swanson is looking forward to starting the new season away from Rangers for the first time in eleven years. The forward has signed up at Rugby Park on a permanent basis following a successful loan in the second half of last season.
Swanson is happy in her new surroundings, despite the sadness of leaving the team she has supported all her life, saying: “I’m really looking forward to the season, it’s something new and a new challenge and I’m excited to get started.”
Despite the excitement of a new challenge, Lisa admits that there was some sadness in leaving her former club, adding: “As a Rangers supporter, you never want to leave so there is a sadness but I’m really happy because Kilmarnock have made me feel really wanted and they have been brilliant to me.”
Lisa joined Kilmarnock on-loan during the summer break last season and she described how the loan came about. “I wasn’t playing at Rangers and people kept asking me what was happening and why I wasn’t playing” she said. “Clare Docherty was one of the people I spoke to and she went back and told Stewart, the manager, and the loan all came from there.”
It’s fair to say that Lisa’s loan spell at Rugby Park was a successful one. The striker scored eight goals in eight games as well as picking up the Player of the Month award for September. Swanson feels that the warm welcome she received helped her on the field.
“The girls were all really welcoming and I was accepted into the squad right from the start. Stewart made it clear from the start that I was wanted and that was what I need as my confidence was low after not playing at Rangers.”
The 27-year-old believes that, despite moving down to SWPL 2, the league is no less competitive. She said: “It isn’t an easy league, there isn’t any difference in terms of how competitive it is and being a league down doesn’t change anything, there are still the same demands to go out and perform and win games.”
Kilmarnock finished runners-up in the table to champions Motherwell last season, in what was their first season after being promoted in the previous campaign. Lisa says they’re aiming to go one better in the upcoming season.
“We finished second last season so you’ve got to look to improve, for us that means we’re looking to finish first. It will be a tough league though.”
In their first pre-season game of the season Kilmarnock defeated Queens Park 2-1 with Lisa scoring one and assisting the other. As she prepares for her first full season at Killie, Lisa tells how her time playing professionally in Finland has helped her prepare.
“You’re full time there so you can concentrate fully on football. I learned more about preparing myself for games physically and I definitely took that back with me.”
Swanson joined Finnish side Aland United for three months whilst she was at Rangers and scored the goals which helped her new side avoid relegation. It was an experience which Lisa enjoyed both on and off-the-field.
“The style of football over there suited me and obviously I scored the goals the club needed to stay up, so it was positive. I also enjoyed the travelling. We were based on an island and had a boat journey to go to games and I enjoyed getting around and seeing the place.”
Now that she’s back in Scotland and with her new club on a permanent basis, Lisa is hoping to repay Kilmarnock in goals.
“To finish top-scorer is a personal target. As a team we want to improve and that means getting promoted. There are girls here who’ve been at the club for twenty years and they’ve been through all the highs and lows. It would be good for them to get promoted, especially as it is so important for them.”
Football is important to Lisa too and she is thankful to her new club, saying: “I owe Kilmarnock a lot. I really want to do well for them because they’ve made me feel wanted, it’s because of them that I’ve got my love for football back.”
FC Kilmarnock start their Scottish Building Society SWPL 2 campaign on the 10th of February, away to Edinburgh University Hutchison Vale.