womens football

Pie 178: The Hibs Ladies Bridie (c/o Penicuik Athletic)

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Hello and welcome to Meat Filled Pastries, your home of Scottish football baking. It’s taken a wee while to get around to writing this next batch of reviews, so my apologies for that. I’m currently going through a glut of women’s football work and writing which is wonderful but is also keeping me very busy and hopefully your appetite was sated by my History of Pie and Bovril piece. People seemed to like that which was nice.

This review comes from Penicuik Park, normal home of East of Scotland Penicuik Athletic but, for one sodden August evening, also home to Hibernian Ladies as they took on Stirling University in the Scottish Women’d Cup. A 300+ crowd turned up for the game and with team sheets, kiosk and even a half time draw the game had a right “proper” feel to it.

I go back on forth on the entry requirements for SWPL football in Scotland, I think cover is necessary, but personally I can cope without seats, especially when sometimes the view and comfort of the seating is highly questionable *cough* Ravenscraig *cough*, and I think a more holistic view of fan experience sometimes needs to be taken into consideration. I’m writing these next three reviews whilst watching Chelsea v Spurs in the Women’s Super League and the level of coverage being afforded to the women’s game in England is something that Scotland has to find a way of grabbing on to. I continue to remain more hopeful, as opposed to expectant though.

One of the things that sometime’s leaves a little to be desired at women’s games is the catering so I was pleasantly surprised to see a fully stocked hut to make my dinner selection from. Having already had the Penicuik Athletic Pie some years ago I scanned the whiteboard before choosing myself a bridie and so, without much further ado, let’s rate some pie.

WherePenicuik Park, Hibernian Ladies 5-0 Stirling University, Scottish Women’s Cup 3rd Round

Price: At £1.50 this was very reasonably priced in the context of the non-league surroundings.

Presentation: This pie was handed to me wrapped in a double layer of circle-dimpled kitchen roll, more substantial than the standard white napkin which, of course, means that it was more than capable of doing the job required.

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Meatiness: I was ready to wax lyrically about this bridie, my natural inclination at present is to promote anything Scottish women’s football related to act as a counter to the many questions and observations that I have on a near game by game basis but, if I’m being honest, this bridie filling was just OK.

It was a little shy on quantity and what was there was needing a little extra crack of salt and pepper. It did the job but left me pining for something more.

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Pastry: The pastry was golden, aided by a brush of egg glaze before baking with the end result having the look more of an empanada than a bridie. It was really well baked on the outside and there was some flaking but as I peered inside, using the floodlights to guide me, I noticed there was a pretty raw looking layer of pastry. This will have hindered the balance, naturally dulling all the favours that it surrounded, and again whilst it was fine, it wasn’t one that was going to live long in the memory.

Brown Sauce: It probably could have done with a wee squirt of something but the bridie, in my opinion, is not a naturally condiment receptacle so none was used here.

Overall: It was all fine but the filling needed some added punch and to be more generous whilst the pastry was golden but also not quite right underneath.

Gravy Factor: Meh.

I don’t want this review to undermine the fantastic effort made by ‘Cuikie to host this midweek tie. They fully embraced the responsibility and also saw it as an opportunity to not only support women’s football but to also ensure that should Hibernian need a temporary home again then they would be first in line.

Next up is a special trip south of the border where I review the Workington AFC Steak Pie. However until next time, go forth and eat pie!

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. Editor of Leading the Line, A member of the Scottish Women’s Football Media Team and a contributor to various football websites, podcasts and publications. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part-time Madrileno with a passion for food and football that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

Pie 163: The Clyde Pie

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Welcome back to yet another edition of everyone’s favourite location for meat filled musings. This week I have myself the rare treat of getting to a review a pie for free, well kind of.

On Sunday 14th April Spartans took on Hibernian and Rangers took on Glasgow City at Broadwood in the SWPL Cup Semi Finals, as opposed to just turning up as a fan I was carrying out some duties as part of the SWPL Media Team creating some content and supporting with the running of the @ScotWFootball social media accounts. I’ve officially been involved for a couple of months now and it’s been interesting getting a view on the challenges often faced from the inside. A recent Scottish Supporters Network survey showed that of the 5,773 people surveyed only 1% (approx. 60 people) said they regularly attend women’s football. A complimentary question to this asked the reason for this apathy and I wanted to focus on the biggest two.

Knowing when and where the game was on (43% of respondents highlighted this as a reason for not attending)

As a long time supporter of women’s football I can sympathise greatly with this view point as in times past I have got to game day still unsure when and where a fixture would be. In this recent season though there has been massive strides made with the creation of an updated SWPL (Scottish Women’s Premier League) site as well as a refreshed Scottish Women’s Football website. The league have set up a partnership with the excellent Football Stadium Prints with the images he creates being used to promote every match day including date, time and location. On my part contextualising what these games mean and what kind of contest you can expect are equally important and so via the SWPL feed I now produce match cards giving this detail along with recent form, league positions and points to date. It’s getting better but the challenge is still there, a crowd of over 500 attended the two SWPL Cup Semi Finals combined, yet the Twitter following of the four competing sides alone is over 38,000 in number and converting those numbers into an increasing number of bums on seats is just one place where I think efforts should be focused.

Top Tips for Knowing when and where the Game is

  • Follow @SWPL and @ScotWFootball on Twitter
  • Visit the SWPL and Scottish Women’s Football websites

Better promotion from the media (39% of respondents highlighted this as a reason for not attending)

Currently as a result of the data provider used by the BBC to populate their feeds both SWPL fixtures and tables aren’t available on the BBC Sport Scotland website. It’s annoying but until the coverage and support for the game increases the incentive for these data providers to have this information available remains less than it would if there was millions of pounds at play. It’s a vicious cycle but one that again is improving.

BBC Alba provides regular live coverage of Friday night SWPL fixtures. Whether the scheduling of these against rival games could be better is a debate I could have for days but it is progress. The SWPL Media team is small in number but it is getting bigger and with that comes the opportunity for more coverage, more audio and more highlights. A subscription to The Scottish Women’s Football YouTube channel will not only give you access to match highlights but also provide with you post match reaction and coverage of cup draws amongst other things. There is also the recently launched Anyone’s Game Podcast devoted to Scottish Women’s football and I’d love to help get one set up for the league proper at some point. There is also a movement afoot to help heighten coverage of the game even further ahead of the national side’s World Cup farewell match against Jamaica at Hampden where a new record attendance will surely be obtained.

It’s not going to be easy, I along with many others, devotes hours of free time to help promote the game but for the moment you may still need to go looking for it just a little.

Top Tips for finding media relating to Scottish Women’s Football:

  • Subscribe to the Scottish Women’s Football YouTube Channel
  • Listen to the Anyone’s Game Podcast
  • Follow Leading the Line (I’ll be doing more women’s content as the men’s season comes to the end).

I make no apologies for using this forum to help promote the women’s game, it deserves the focus to last and to not just be a fleeting national notion with a World Cup on the horizon and I’ll continue to share what I can along the way but for now, let’s get back to the business of reviewing pies, and this scotch pie offering from Clyde FC.

So without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Broadwood Stadium, Spartans 0-3 Hibernian, Rangers 1-5 Glasgow City, SWPL Cup Semi Finals

Price: This Scotch Pie cost the equivalent of one full day’s work of manning the Scottish Women’s Football Social Media feeds. So if I put zero value on my time then this pie was indeed free. I very nearly didn’t get one in the media scramble but as the words you are reading can testify to, I did and I was glad because it would turn out to be both my breakfast and lunch that day.

Presentation: Mixed in with all the sandwiches on a plate in the media centre this pie came in a silver tin foil case, the kind of case that has housed pies across Scottish football for years now.

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Meatiness: Not one to wax lyrically about here, not that it was bad, in fact it was perfectly good. Nice level of spicing with a faint pepper kick in the background and with the texture you would want to find in a good scotch pie. It’s not going to see me rushing back to Broadwood for another but at the same time it didn’t leave my tastebuds disappointed either.

Pastry: Held well. Crispy edges, sufficient colour on it, did the job.

Brown Sauce: A tangy little sachet that added a zing to the overall eating experience.

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Overall: Absolutely nothing wrong with it but at the same time nothing that will have me champing at the bit to induct it into the Meat Filled Pastries Hall of Fame. These factors make for a pretty boring pie review but if you were to get hungry at Broadwood this pie would certainly do you no harm.

Gravy Factor: Standard Bisto.

Next up, I cross the border for some Good Friday fun where I take in Carlisle United vs Lincoln City in the League Two promotion race? However until next time, go forth and eat pie!

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. A member of the SWPL Media Team and a contributor to various football websites and publications he also currently acts as Heart & Hand Podcast’s resident Iberian football expert, hosting “The Isco Inferno” a weekly take on all things Spanish football. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part-time Madrileno with a passion for food and football that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

Pie 154: The St. Mirren Steak & Gravy Pie

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Hello and welcome to another edition of Meat Filled Pastries. As I have often explained before I started Meat Filled Pastries as a result of a bet and a desire to not let any kind of flair for the written word leave me forever. I think I’ve made peace that this isn’t destined to be my “big idea” as I continue to try and plot an escape route from my life as Office Monkey #324 but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped searching for it. Don’t get me wrong if it wasn’t for being an office monkey then some of the things I have seen and done over the last couple of years wouldn’t have been possible (or more pertinently financed) but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want more from my life, to not still be sitting in that same desk doing the same thing in another five years time. I want to make a difference, leave a mark and not being lying on my death bed hopefully many, many years from now not wondering, what if? I’m just not entirely sure how.

My latest attempt at existential salvation comes in the form of The Scrancast. A new podcast looking at the best food and drinks creators in Glasgow, not necessarily focusing on the things they produce but the stories behind them and their journey’s until this point. Episode 1: Welcome to The Scrancast is now out on Soundcloud and you can follow it’s journey here. It’s currently pending iTunes approval and there’s a website in the works along with a whole host of other ideas relating to it so why not give it a follow from the links menu on the left hand side, there will almost certainly be some pie based content in there at one point in the future.

Speaking of the links menu, I’ve also added in a couple of new links to people I want to give a bit of a bump too. Firstly to Roddy Cons and his site “The Team on Tour” who I’m currently living vicariously through as he makes his way around the lower leagues of Spanish football, particularly in Madrid, something that I only ever really scratched the surface of. Secondly a shout out to Steven at Football Stadium Prints who has this week given up his job to pursue a career in stadium based artistry, he deserves all the support in the world for following a dream so why not take a look at that too. It’s good gear.

You know who else deserves our support? The Scotland Women’s national team as they head to their first ever Women’s World Cup Finals in France next summer. Preperations for the tournament are now in full swing, and the visit of the United States to Scotland for a glamour friendly is just another sign that the women’s game in Scotland is on the rise. So with that in mind I headed to Paisley to see how our girls would get on agaisnt the best in the world and, of course, scran a pie.

So without much further ado, let’s rate some pie.

Where: St. Mirren Park, Scotland 0-1 USA, Women’s Friendly International

Price: Having experienced some truly awful pies down Hampden way over the not distant past I was hoping that a change of venue when it came to supporting my national side would see an increase in pastry quality. Having parted with a fairly substantial £2.70 for my pastry I went to take my first bite with some trepidation, knowing that high prices and all seater stadiums have not been a common recipe for success so far.

Presentation: As is common practice with a steak based pie this was presented within a silver tin foil case although the white napkin was much larger than you would expect at a stadia of this nature.

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Meatiness: Billing itself as a steak and gravy pie meant that the pressure was on to ensure that the gravy was forthcoming. The good news was that it was, however it perhaps lacked the punch of flavour that a £2.70 pie should really possess. The meat was good though. A varied size of chunks that kept your mouth interested as you made your way through with the texture suitably tender and forgiving to the bite. Whilst it might not necessarily be a Hall of Famer in the making this was a marked improvement on some of the mass catered pies of the past.

Pastry: Not masses to say here. It was a bit bashed about and the pastry, as is nearly always almost the way when a silver casing is present, was soft on the bottom but the sides held well and there was a nice golden tinge to the top. There was a little bit of boil out but I actually quite enjoy a bit of that.

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Brown Sauce: Wee brown sachets of a cash and carry owners dreams were available but of course this was a steak and gravy pie and so to do anything other than go bareback on this luxury pastry would be to go agaisnt everything these pages have stood for over the last five plus years.

Overall: You know what? A fairly good steak and gravy pie. It was perhaps lacking a little bit of punch but at least it didn’t disintegrate in your hands as soon as you pick up like many a match day pie does at the top end of the Scottish game.

Gravy Factor: Contextually good gravy.

A decent effort from The Saints, and a decent showing from Shelly Kerr and her side against the best the women’s game has to offer. As for the next review, who knows. It’s got to that tricky time of the year where the midweek card shrinks and the weather starts to play havoc too. Have no fear though, Meat Filled Pastries will be back.

Until next time, go forth and eat pie (and why not listen to The Scrancast whilst you’re doing it too).

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. A contributor to various football websites and publications he also currently acts as Heart & Hand Podcast’s resident Iberian football expert and hosts “The Isco Inferno” a weekly take on all things Spanish football. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part-time Madrileno with a passion for food and football that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

 

 

 

Pie 152: The Partick Thistle Pie

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Back once again with the Scottish pie master,

Brown sauce dribble, meaty in the middle.

Back one again with the Scottish pie master,

Brown sauce dribble and the meat filled pastries,

and the meat filled pastries,

and the meat filled pastries,

and the meat filled pastries…

That’s right we are back once again with another pie review from Meat Filled Pastries. Much to my surprise pie 152 sees a first review from Firhill, home of Partick Thistle and for this visit, the home of the SSE Women’s Scottish Cup Final between Hibernian and Motherwell. I’ve gone on quite a bit about the need for people to support the women’s game and for those that run it to do their bit by making sure that the match day experience in as enticing as possible. It certainly feels like strides are being made in both those regards and I’ll be interested to see what the numbers are like when I see Scotland take on the USA on Tuesday 13th November at whatever they are calling New Love Street these days.

One of the biggest challenges women’s football faces in my eyes is how to address the quality gap from the very top of the domestic game (Glasgow City & Hibernian) to the rest. Whilst there was no doubting the Leith Lassies fully deserved their 8-0 win against the Women of Steel (love that nickname!) it did somewhat dampen the spectacle to see one side 3-0 up after only 15 minutes. Of course the game could have went differently but a quick look at the SWPL1 table shows that there is a gap there for the chasing pack to address.

Quality of competition not withstanding I’m really interested to see what impact the new entry criteria for next season will have on the – and I hate to use this word – product. 2019 is shaping up as a big year for women’s football in Scotland and I really hope that those in control grasp the opportunity to turn everything up a notch, not only for the fans but for all involved with their clubs too.

It’s also World Scotch Pie Championship Judging Day this week and this year’s event has had the good grace to fall on my birthday so whilst there won’t be any cake I will no doubt be pie-eyed by the end of the day.

That’s it for the pie-atribe this week so without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Firhill Stadium, Hibernian Ladies 8-0 Motherwell Ladies, SSE Scottish Women’s Cup Final

Price: At £2.40 this is one of the more expensive scotch pies that I have had during my adventures. It will be interesting to see with the requirement for catering in the SWPL going forward the pricing strategy implemented by Scotland’s top female clubs.

Presentation: This scotch pie was presented in a tin foil case, common in the upper echelons but less so in the juniors, and with a small white napkin taken from one of those dispensers you see at large stadia.

Meatiness: This was a generously filled scotch pie. The meat reached almost every nook and cranny inside it’s pastry walls. The texture was both crumbly and firm meaning that each bite held well on initial impact before easily giving way as you made your way through. There was also a good pepper kick to this pastry, something has been feeling absent from the last few scotch pie reviews I’ve done. Not too strong to cause any harm to the overall taste experience but just warm enough to give your taste buds a little thrill on what was a pretty cold Sunday afternoon.

Pastry: The most impressive thing about this pastry was that it did not stick to the shiny base below. It was also golden on top with some lovely crispy edges accompanied by a little steam hole to give the filling some room to breath. Whilst the pastry didn’t stick it was perhaps a little soft on the bottom but it was nothing that would be of detriment to the overall eating experience.

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Brown Sauce: Small sachets of brown that helped bring the appropriate level of zing to this pastry party.

Overall: Good pastry with a generous and well seasoned filling that was complimented by a peppery kick means that this was a very good pie indeed, even if it was £2.40.

Gravy Factor: A scotch pie worthy of a cup final.

This was a top pie from Firhill. They actually had quite a wide range to choose from but for me it’s important that I always continue to give reference to the core pastry product, the one that you will find everywhere, the scotch pie. That said for those fans who do enjoy a bit of deviation you are in for a treat as next time out I review a bridie from Ardrossan Winton Rovers in the Scottish Juniors.

Until next time, go forth and eat pie!

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. A contributor to various football websites and publications he also currently acts as Heart & Hand Podcast’s resident Iberian football expert and hosts “The Isco Inferno” a weekly take on all things Spanish football. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part-time Madrileno with a passion for food and football that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

Pie 149: The Stirling Albion “Steak” Pie

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Welcome to another edition of Meat Filled Pastries as we induct the 149th baked good into these hallowed pastry halls. This week’s offering comes from Stirling Albion but instead of seeing the Binos do battle I was present for semi-final one of a SSE Scottish Women’s Cup semi-final double-header. I had got out my bed fairly early for a Sunday to take in Glasgow City and Hibernian as the two dominant forces in Scottish women’s football went head to head at noon before Motherwell and The Spartans kicked off four hours later for a place in the final to be played on Sunday 4th November at Firhill. A two game semi-final double header at the same venue on the same day. Can’t think where I’ve heard that before…

I’ve talked at length about what I think needs to be done to really capitalise on the success of Shelley Kerr’s World Cup bound national side and the need to move the domestic game in Scotland forward. If you haven’t read those then conveniently there is a link right here where I gave my opinion a couple of months ago. At this point though I want to commend some of what I saw at Forthbank Stadium that certainly seem to suggest things are moving in the right direction, especially after the introduction of the new entry criteria for the 2019 season.

Firstly, whilst the announcement that the 4 semi-finalists in the Betfred Cup would all play on the same day had people proclaiming the end of days, the idea of a Semi Final Super Sunday works in a Scottish women’s football context and although the announced attendance of 364 sounds meagre it is considerably higher than your average SWPL match day turnout. They had also struck a deal with the BBC similar to the one currently being exercised for the early rounds of the FA Cup to stream both games live on the BBC Sport website accompanied by some proper english speaking commentary. There were team sheets available for each game and whilst it was good that these were free there was perhaps a missed opportunity for a double edition programme to be sold. The historic problem of kick off times clashing with big games on the men’s side did rear its head again though as the crowd appeared noticeably smaller as I watched game two in my flat prior to Scotlands’ 1-3 defeat to Portugal “B”. A game that kicked off only an hour after Motherwell and Spartans did so making it impossible to properly engage in both.

The biggest thing though, and the one that is most relevant to this site, is that there was some hot food to be had and national team aside this feels like a bit of a first. So without much further ado let’s rate some pie!

Where: Forthbank Stadium, Glasgow City 1-2 Hibernian Ladies, SSE Scottish Women’s Cup Semi Final

Price: At £2.50 this was perhaps a bit pricier than I was expecting given the Scottish League Two surroundings. The price becoming a greater bone of contention as I started my consumption.

Presentation: Presented in a tin foil case, the napkins were a self-service job from the table beside the counter. Plenty of large white napkins to choose from so you could go wild in a totally environmentally friendly way.

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Meatiness: Ooft, this was dry, which was a little upsetting. There was some large chunks of steak present but these meaty morsels were quite tough which – coupled with the lack of gravy – didn’t make for the most joyous of bites and an overuse of your jaw muscles. The seasoning wasn’t much cop either and it’s fair to say that I was a little disappointed when I looked at the empty napkin and foil tin that sat in my hand. I know this is a luxury pie but I wish I had whacked some brown sauce on it.

Pastry: The pastry was a bit weird. Whist the scotch pie shell with puff pastry lid has been seen before the puff had seemed to forget to do its growing thing and the shell had a strange grey-brown-yellow sheen to it. Structurally it was sound but again it wasn’t much of a taste sensation.

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Overall: This wasn’t a classic. The meat was a little tough and the paucity of gravy meant that it was all just a little dry, especially when paired with the slightly odd pastry combination surrounding it. I’m not going to lie, part of me thought that these were left over from a Saturday somewhere, and that’s not a great sign.

Gravy Factor: Just a mirage of gravy in this pastry desert.

Well with us one pastry away from 150 there is some pressure to be had on our next hosts after this underwhelming effort. Who that host will be I genuinely don’t know but what I can assure you of is that there will be a pie celebration to be had and maybe I’ll knock something up a little bit special too.

Until next time though, go forth and eat pie!

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. He has contributed to prominent football sites including Pie & Bovril, The Terrace Podcast and  The Football Pink as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. He currently acts as Heart & Hand Podcast’s resident Iberian football expert. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part-time Madrileno with a passion for food and football that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

 

 

 

In Search of the SWPL

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The second half of the Scottish Women’s season is about to get underway following the traditional midsummer break. Hibernian and Glasgow City sit head and shoulders above the rest with the Edinburgh side looking to end City’s 11 year run of domestic dominance. Both sides on 35 points with 11 wins and two draws to their names with an end of season showdown already feeling inevitable. I often attend women’s games, choosing real life entertainment against whatever Premier League fixture have cobbled together under the guise of “Super Sunday” but for many a stigma remains, one that dictates that the quality isn’t very good and that nobody really cares. But what’s the cause of this and is there a resolution to be found?

A first attempt to find a list of women’s fixtures instantly flags an issue. Whilst the Scottish Women’s Football (SWF) website is a reliable source, including regularly updated kick off times and locations across all senior women’s leagues it’s a resource that is only known to those that know. Google obviously helps but statistics dictate that your average fan is more than likely to head to one of the two behemoths of web/app based sports coverage in the UK, namely the BBC and Sky Sports. The problem is should you rely solely on these then your search for Scottish women’s fixtures will be ultimately fruitless.

This, along with coverage in general, been a constant source of bemusement to me for some time, with BBC Scotland particularly culpable such is their perceived lack of ability to cover the mere basics. A deficiency made even more stark when you look at the coverage the women’s game gets south of the border on the very same site. While an entire subsite is dedicated to the women’s game direct from the BBC Sport home page this is very much an England centric proposition. Here you can find latest news from the clubs, view fixtures and league tables. It would be remiss of me not to mention that Scottish football does feature but the aforementioned basics are nowhere to be found.

Then there is the Women’s Football Show a regularly scheduled look at the going on’s within the Women’s Super League (WSL) including match highlights and interviews with prominent figures. The Women’s FA Cup Final is now a key part of the BBC’s May Bank Holiday schedule, broadcast in full HD and with over 45,000 in attendance at this years final. It feels like a big deal. Meanwhile in Scotland fans are treated to BBC Alba and picture quality that would have raised cries of derision twenty years ago. At least you’ll get to brush up on your Gaelic. There will be some people who read this and automatically go into defence mode, how it’s not Scotland’s fault and how we are forever marginalised on a UK scale. There is a smidgen of merit in that, anybody who has lived in the south of England particular will have had at least one conversation about Scotland that has left you dumbfounded in its ignorance but are the people that should be held for account not those in charge of the BBC Sport Scotland mandate? Is it not their job to be that voice?

There is some evidence they are trying though, albeit in a near typical backwards fashion. During the World Cup a common consensus formed that Alex Scott – by taking the rare approach of combining enthusiasm and research to her football punditry brief – was a welcome addition to the coverage. Sportscene had already followed that path somewhat and have had current and former Scottish Women’s footballers appear on Sportscene and Radio Scotland to pass comment on frequent occasion although the coverage itself on these outlets can sometimes leave a lot to be desired. There is also, usually, a couple of articles buried on the Scottish Football section of the website giving a summary of the weekend’s action although it’s regular brevity leaves you wondering how much pressure is put on to produce high quality content. BBC Alba does at least play the game a little, not only showing the Scottish Cup Final but regular coverage of both international women’s football and the odd Glasgow City European adventure, though once again you do have to ask if this really is the best way to get new eyes on the game?

I’m not sure that the blame should be left solely at the BBC’s door though. Imagine if you will that you have somehow made your way to the SWF website and now find yourself looking at the upcoming Sunday’s fixtures. The likelihood is that you will already support a men’s side and so naturally you peruse the page looking for their female equivalent.

Unfortunately that doesn’t always work.

Let’s take this weekend for example. Not only is it the return of the women’s season but it is also kick off time for the SPFL. On Sunday, Aberdeen play Rangers in the stand out fixture of the weekend as Steven Gerrard makes his league debut away to one of the teams his side will be looking to overhaul. With a 1pm Sunday kick off to allow for TV coverage you would think that this would provide you the perfect opportunity to get yourself down to your first women’s match. Well, I’m sorry to report, you would be wrong. Whilst the seagulls at Pittodrie look on in hungry anticipation of that first flung pie in the SWPL Aberdeen travel to Dalkeith to take on Hearts at 2pm whilst Rangers travel to Station Park to take on Forfar Farmington. The kick off time there? 1pm. So I ask, as a fan with a stronger connection to the men’s side than women’s of one of these two sides, what choice are you most likely to make? For many it’s an easy decision.

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This isn’t confined to same club conflicts though and often top women’s games are forced to clash with the best that Scottish football offer. For example, the 2017 Scottish Women’s Cup Final was played at the same time as the men’s Scottish League Cup Final. I mean give yourselves a chance! Now there’s reasons for this, pitch availability I have seen often cited but when the SWPL, and in turn the SFA, don’t make the game a priority how can they expect a fan too?

Irrespective of the challenges above you’ve thrown caution to the wind and picked a fixture, the next thing you need to know is where you need to go. Most women’s clubs will have somewhere that they call “home”. Teams with affiliations to their male counterparts will often ground share such as Forfar Farmington (Station Park) and St. Johnstone (McDiarmid Park). Some clubs will host their women’s fixtures at local junior or lower league ground such as Rangers at New Tinto Park just a ten minute walk from Ibrox and Hibernian at Ainslie Park home of Lowland League Spartans. The recurring theme, and by association the problem, is that while these teams will have a “home” none of them are a place that they could call their own and so on occasion they have to go on the move. Where they move to though is often telling of the challenges the women’s game in Scotland faces.

Let’s take a look at the 3rd Round of the SSE Scottish Women’s Cup. Scottish women’s football most successful club and current SWPL champions Glasgow City host league counterparts Stirling University. The dominant force in Scottish women’s football for well over a decade have been most recently based out of Petershill Park in the north of the city. For this tie, arguably the pick of the round, they find themselves based at St. Mungo’s Academy, a school linked sports complex close to their spiritual home. They’re not the only ones though, Hearts usually based from Kings Park, home of Dalkeith Thistle, host Spartans at Glencorse Community Centre. It’s hard for critics to take the women’s game seriously when you’re watching teams being hurried off the park because the local men’s amateur game is next up.

So you’ve managed to find a fixture, you’ve mapped your path there and triple checked the kick off time. You walk up to the venue and find yourself wondering just what should you expect from your first women’s football experience? The honest answer is pretty much anything.

Much like at any level or grade of football the quality of play in show could be anything from utterly mundane to totally ludicrous with the majority falling somewhere in between. For example, a Scottish Cup tie between Blackburn United and Ayr United that I attended earlier in the season finished 10-9 after extra time, it was a mere 8-8 after 90 minutes. The quality wasn’t great but the drama as the game ebbed and flowed would be the stuff of TV executive wet dreams. An hour later I was back in Glasgow watching a fairly tame 2-0 win for Queen’s Park against Morton. You are probably more likely to get the odd 15 goal procession as the standard varies greatly from top to bottom but even those sometimes provide their own strange little spectacle.

Quality of play aside, what else do you need to know? Well, it’s a bit of a bargain with even the top sides rarely charging more than £5 although I would suggest that you have low expectations around catering facilities. Scotland games aside I am yet to find a women’s game where a pie can be had although usually there’ll be a way to at least find a beverage. Also whilst modern football stadia confines you to just one seat, given the relative sparse nature of the crowds and the types of venues these games take place at, you will be free to roam the terraces looking for the perfect spot. You will also invariably end up in a conversation with someone who is usually a friend or relative of one of the players.

All that being said the experience you have will be very much dependent on your mindset going into it. If you go with expectations of seeing the female versions of Messi and Ronaldo duelling in front of a packed stadium then I suggest you have a re-think. If however, you turn up with an open mind then I suggest the experience you have will be considerably better than lying flat on your couch as Huddersfield and Southampton do battle in pursuit of 15th place in the Premier League.

In a country where the women’s national side is infinitely more successful than their male counterparts it seems strange to say that the domestic game hasn’t really progressed all that much. Whilst Hibernian have emerged as real challengers to Glasgow City’s monopoly on the SWPL title, a recent top of the table clash between the two had an attendance no more than a couple of hundred and was delayed due to a lower league game being played on the same pitch running late. Top Scottish players now in the main play abroad and I have no doubt that some of the challenges covered here will have played a part in that.

Taking all things into consideration though it is important that you don’t let the sparse attendances make you think that the SWPL doesn’t matter. That you don’t use the occasional sloppy pass as a trigger to question it’s quality. Don’t let a 12-0 win let you think it isn’t competitive and don’t let a lack of media presence let you think that it’s not worth talking about. So why not take a chance one Sunday afternoon, you just might like it.

Pie 119: The Falkirk Macaroni Pie

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The “see you laters” have been said in my last post so I’m not going to labour the point. Instead, like all good encores this will be brief nod to the fans designed to keep those of you on who are interested on tenterhooks with the insinuation that in years to come an overpriced reunion tour will occur where a bedraggled version of me will rate pies through a straw as people stare and wonder, “Has he been on the smack?”

Anyway, before this tangent writes me off as dead in a pool of my own vomit let’s get on with the show.

Let’s rate some pie!

THE SURROUNDINGS

Where: The Falkirk Stadium, Scotland Women 0-4 Iceland Women, UEFA Women’s European Championship Qualifying Group 1

Price: £1.90. Not breaking through the two pound barrier makes this a cheaper luxury option although overall this is still at the top end of the matchday pie market.

Presentation: As oft found towards the upper echelons of the Scottish game this pie came in a silver foil case accompanied with a pick as you need selection of napkins from a dispenser beside the kiosk. I went for two. Two seemed right but not excessive.

THE PIE

The Final Bite...
The Final Bite…

CheesyPastainess – As a macaroni pie filling this was a very good effort. The tightly curled tubes of macaroni were soft to the bite without turning into a mushy pulp adding the right amount of texture to this filling. The cheese was also a lovely blend, with the right balance of savoury and salty. The texture here too was spot on, no gelatinous globules of tasteless cheese, instead long strings of fromage based goodness graced my presence with a crispy brown later on top Lovely stuff.

Pastry: I’ve mentioned this before but I’ll say it again. Macaroni Pie pastry is pale and whilst the walls of this particular offering were I was intrigued to find that the top was a little browner and as such a little crisper. There was some issues towards the bottom of the pie meaning the pastry tore against the tin foil tin and a little bit of filling recovery was required but all in all this was a solid effort.

Brown Sauce: Nostalgia dictates that red sauce is used here. A wee sachet (all sachets are too wee for my liking) of perfectly serviceable tomato condimentation. (Note: pretty sure that’s a made up word).

Overall: A friend of mine swore to me that macaroni pies were the best thing ever, whilst I still disagree with that statement I feel confident in saying that they have more than earned their place on these hallowed pages.

Gravy Factor: Cheesy Gravy. And as we all know cheese, much like bacon, is always good.

So that’s it for now. Over the coming months I’ll be trying to pull 3 years of pie based jiggery pokery into something that people may pay for money for (or at the very least download for free from Amazon). There’s a lot of people to thank along the way but I think I’ll save that for the book.

Until next time, go forth and eat pie!

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. He has contributed to prominent football sites including Pie & Bovril, The Terrace Podcast, The Football Pink and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.