By Chris Marshall (@mershdoes)
When St. Johnstone make one of what will be several trips south during this SWPL2 season the journey will have a ring of the familiar as they clock up the miles in enforced procession along the A9 asphalt. Today a motorway turn off will eventually funnel them into Glasgow’s southern suburbs towards Lochinch, current home of Partick Thistle. Turning off from Dumbreck Road past the rugby club on one side and the golf club the other, players and coaches begin the short four minute drive through urban parkland to nature’s centre.
They’ll gently weave past cyclists and runners before getting a glimpse of the autumnal bounty set for harvest from the local community allotments passing houses that will leave them wondering who makes a park their home. A fairly long stretch is next as rapidly browning bushes sprawl along either side before the inevitable waves rise as they cruise through the lake formed by a dip in the road.
The stables and Old Barn are next. If they are lucky they may catch the clip-clopping of hooves as the sounds of the southside’s main thoroughfares become more distant, drifting away in the breeze. Occasionally they will have to stop, and wait, a raise of the hand as someone makes headway in the other direction before the trees soon block the sky, a canopy of yellow, brown and gold that help to keep the heaviest of rain clear.
Suddenly on the horizon, a clearing emerges behind old wooden gates where the familiarity of the SWPL comes back to the fore. A modern white building adjacent to a park of many G’s, the fields rolling off into the distance, streaked by hounds running at full speed away from their owners, the silence soon to be replaced with the clatter of boots, shouts, cheers and whistles.
The road to Lochinch is like no other but at the end of it there will usually be some football there.
Other Preview Thoughts
The SWPL1 weekend throws up a series of contests where Celtic, Rangers, Hibernian and Glasgow City will have their top half credentials put to the test.
The Old Firm are both in the capital with the Hoops favoured to defeat hosts Hearts, the Jambos having added SWPL2 winner Rachel Walkingshaw back to their ranks, whilst Rangers will be looking to maintain top spot with a repeat of their 3-1 pre-season victory away to Spartans.
Hibernian travel to Airdrie to face Motherwell because sometimes that’s what you have to do when ground availability is at its most rare as Glasgow City host a Forfar Farmington side who are coming off the back of an impressive 4-2 opening day victory against the Women of Steel in a week where City announced the signing of American forward Nicole Robertson and before one where they start their 2020/21 UWCL campaign at home to Irish side Peamount United just two and a bit months after their last one ended. A campaign that will also be boosted by the news Scotland International Hayley Lauder has renewed her contract until 2023.
In SWPL2, along with St Johnstone’s trip south, pacesetters Aberdeen will look to build on their 9-0 victory away to Boroughmuir Thistle as they host fellow promoted side Queen’s Park who themselves are coming off the back of an impressive 2-0 win against Glasgow Women. Craig Joyce takes his side to Lanarkshire to face Hamilton Accies who have been functional in securing maximum points so far without hitting top form. Dundee United and Stirling University will both be looking for their first victory of the season at Caird Park as will Boroughmuir and Kilmarnock with the visitors having lost narrowly last week to Accies.
What You Can Watch (Accurate at time of writing Saturday 10pm):
- Glasgow City v Forfar Farmington | 15:00 | Glasgow City TV | PPV £5
- Motherwell v Hibernian | 12:30 | Motherwell FC | PPV £5
- Hamilton Accies v Glasgow Women | 16:00 | Accies YouTube | Free
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