THE problem with apologising for mansplaining or for being sexist, is that it can come across as mansplainy and sexist. But here goes. To Shelley Kerr and the Scotland Women’s National Team, an apology. A sincere and overdue one at that.

Like thousands of other football-daft men in Scotland, my interest in women’s football to this point has been passing at best. Somewhere between cricket and dominoes. (With further apologies to enthusiasts of either pursuit).

That sounds horrible, condescending, and yes, sexist, but it’s the truth. And there are countless others like me who would never consider themselves to be exclusionary in any other way, but for some reason, have always turned up their nose at the women’s game.

As well as sending Brazil homewards tae think again this week, this Scotland team may also be inspiring contemplation from the naysayers who believed that women’s football would never take off in this country. Not that they should have to beat Brazil so that eejits like me take them seriously, but a scoreline like the one Kerr and her team managed on Monday might just be the spark for the nation to take this team to its heart, and ensure an almighty send off at Hampden when they take on Jamaica next month before heading to the World Cup.

Scotland is a great country, but there are aspects of our culture that hold us back. The ‘Scottish cringe’, the notion we shouldn’t get too big for our boots, is still all too prevalent. A strain of that may be at the root of where the ambivalence towards our women’s national team has thus far come from.

Not only should they not be getting carried away with themselves by actually achieving things like qualifying for major tournaments, but they certainly shouldn’t have the temerity to do it while being women. And especially when our men’s team, for so long the sporting expression of that comfort blanket we wrap ourselves in – plucky, spirited, but just no good enough – haven’t managed to do so in two decades.

A question that may be worth asking is just why so much focus is devoted to a team who continually give us little to be proud of, while there is derision of a side who are showing our kids that with the right blend of talent, attitude and dedication, great things can be achieved?

Last year, I was at a Q&A event where Kerr was hugely impressive with her ideas and passion for youth development, for instance, that transcend sex. She has built a side full of role models for both girls and boys, each of whom will likely have overcome prejudice and ridicule to excel at their passion.

The domestic game is thriving here too with senior clubs devoting resources to their women’s teams and Celtic even now fielding a full-time side. I am not suggesting it will ever supplant the men’s game, but there is no reason why it cannot flourish alongside it.

The record attendance at a women’s club match was recently smashed in Spain, as 60,739 spectators took in Barcelona’s win over Atletico. England’s latest warm-up match attracted 13,449. Scotland’s record attendance is just 4,098, at last September’s qualifier against France, but it has to be hoped that can be smashed at the end of May at the national stadium.

These women deserve it, just as they deserve this apology. So, on yersel’ girls, go on and do us proud.


NOT for the first time since his introduction to Scottish football almost 20 years ago, Neil Lennon is splitting opinion. But the Marmite man who Celtic supporters have loved and almost all other supporters have hated at one point or another, is this time splitting the fans who regard him a legend.

No matter what happens between now and the summer, his past performances both on the pitch and in the dugout will ensure that status is never altered. But there is more than a creeping notion that while the Celtic support are grateful to their former midfielder for stepping into Brendan Rodgers’ formidable shoes after his midnight flit to Leicester City, the majority would not like to see him take on the job permanently once the hour of need has passed in the summer.

The cold, hard facts of his results since taking over would make that appear harsh, having won five and drawn two of his seven games so far. But the huff and puff nature of some of the performances within that run, most notably the last-gasp win at Dundee and the goalless draw with Livingston at the weekend, may have weakened his grasp on the permanent position.

A win over Aberdeen at the weekend in the Scottish Cup may go some way to altering those perceptions, while a defeat would all but end his job prospects. He has a lot to lose and only a little to gain at Hampden on Sunday, but if he is to make the strongest possible job pitch by guiding the Celtic ship through the choppy waters of late and onwards towards a third successive treble, then navigate his way to a win he must.