Object of desire
In spite of Lone_Piper's initial protestations that he'd seen plenty of t*ts at Almondvale in Dunfermline tops the previous week, I managed to persuade him that the wimmin's international between Scotland and Austria in Livingston might prove a welcome respite from a frustrating club and country season. So it was to prove.
Now plenty folk would pepper a report on a match between the fairer sex with remarks like "women's fitba' has its knockers", "the Austrian lassies didn't have much up front" and "that's what I call a big boot up the park". Not me. Such comments would be out of place coming from someone whom Cupid's arrow scored a bullseye on this afternoon. It wasn't love at first sight. Not like the time I was instantly smitten when I saw Alicia Silverstone prancing onto the screen in those black boots in Clueless. Fair-haired and athletic the lovely Alicia may have been, but she never used her black boots to despatch balls behind an opposition keeper while wearing the hallowed dark blue like the goddess Julie Fleeting.
It took Julie less than 15 minutes to set Scotland on the road to victory while winning my heart at the same time. Running onto a superb through ball, she nonchalantly tucked a neat shot behind the keeper like she was in a training match. Her second arrived some 10 minutes later when she peeled away at the back post to control an inch-perfect cross and send a left-foot drive in off the post from what should have been an impossible angle. Scotland were playing some great stuff at this time having easily weathered some early Austrian pressure where they forced a couple of corners. Solid at the back with a fluid midfield and mercurial attackers, they soon began to over-run their, at times, cynical opponents. Perhaps the only surprise was how long it took to open the scoring/floodgates.
Delighted to score
Number 3 arrived after an almighty goalmouth scramble from a Scotland corner. In spite of brave defending by the Austrian girls, they could do nothing to prevent Stacey Cook from driving the ball home. You could clearly see what scoring for her country meant to Stacey as she danced a jig of sheer delight round the Almondvale pitch. Most teams would take 3-0 as a satisfying first half's work, but we got the chance to increase our lead further when another corner resulted in a handball and penalty kick which that silly besom Fleeting missed! Actually full credit has to go to the Austrian goalie who, leaping high to her right, kept Julie's well-struck shot out.
The second half brought more one-way traffic. A beautiful move down the right saw a cross bounce once at Julie Zidane's feet. The crowd were once again off their backsides as, without hesitation, her 20-yard drive planted the ball perfectly into the corner of the net for an absolute peach. Shortly after, a ball over the top sent her racing through again, but this time her under-pressure shot nearly broke the crossbar. Fate seemed to be conspiring against her as another effort came back off the post. There was no let-up from the Scots in spite of their 4-goal advantage. They continued to play with the same passion and commitment throughout the whole match, tackling as if their lives depended on it and constructing the sweetest of passing moves. When number 5 did finally come it was from one of our subs (missed her name) who was alert enough to capitalise on a mix-up between the goalie and a defender to complete the drubbing and put the seal on a most satisfactory performance.
It's quite reassuring to see that the women's game suffers from crazy refereeing and imaginary offside decisions too, but to be fair, messrs. Dallas and co. don't have thoughts about being home in time to get their man's dinner on cluttering up their brains and confusing them. All in all this was a brilliant afternoon's entertainment. The skill level on show was of the highest calibre - some of the drag-backs and nifty footwork would have any connoisseur of the beautiful game drooling. It's been a long time since I left a match with as wide a grin and a feeling of total satisfaction. If this is what women's football is all about then I'll definitely be back for more. Our lassies richly deserved their standing ovation at the end of the match. At one point the crowd burst into "Are you watching, Bertie Vogts?" I hope he was too. In fact he should have brought his entire squad along to see just what wearing the dark blue is all about, because that's what these young ladies showed us on Sunday. Wee smashers the lot of them.