Nine in a row for Kirkfield United girls led to league title triumph

Graeme Winning (1st left) is pictured with the title-winning Kirkfield United under-13 girls squad and fellow coach Damian Murphy (Submitted pic)
Graeme Winning (1st left) is pictured with the title-winning Kirkfield United under-13 girls squad and fellow coach Damian Murphy (Submitted pic)

The Kirkfield United under-13 girls side recently clinched a remarkable league title success which saw them win all nine of their fixtures.

Head coach Graeme Winning (41) was thrilled that the youngsters – who play home games at Blackwood Community Wing – finished top of the South West Jo Love Under-13 League, their last campaign at seven-a-side level.

Graeme told the Carluke and Lanark Gazette: “We won the league by six points in the end.

“Kilmarnock needed to beat us in the final game to take it to a league decider.

“But we beat them 2-1 at Blackwood to finish top.

“It’s been a great achievement.

“To see the girls progress from beginners all the way to a league winning team is down to their hard work and commitment.

“They got better as the season went on.

“Probably the biggest strength of the team was just their will to win.

“They just don’t know when they’re beaten.”

Graeme said that, although Kirkfield won some of their games convincingly to seal the league, their matches against the teams which finished second, third and fourth saw them win by just a one-goal margin.

“A lot of the games were close and could have gone either way,” he said.

“Obviously the team that finished second were Kilmarnock and they’re of a decent standard.”

Graeme – who took over from team founder Niall McShannon as head coach this summer – revealed that the Kirkfield girls have only been playing competitively since March 2018.

“It’s all down to Niall that the girls team is up and running,” he said.

The squad are now getting prepared for a step up in level from next season.

For the Kirkfield girls’ foray into the tougher under-15, 11-a-side ranks – with matches lasting 70 minutes instead of an hour – will start in fixtures from next February.

Home league games thereafter will be played at Lanark Racecourse.

“Playing 11-a-sides is going to be a massive challenge,” Graeme said.

“We are going against girls that are more experienced, they’re bigger and obviously they’ve been playing 11-a-side for longer.

“So it’s going to take a bit of time to adjust.

“We’ve played two friendlies at 11-a-side already and we’ve lost both of them but we’ve competed well.

“We are going back to being beginners again, so to speak.

“Obviously 11-a-side is a different game to seven-a-side. It will be a full men’s pitch with full men’s goals so it’s a massive change.

“Seven-a-side pitches are just a third of the size of the men’s pitches, with smaller goals.

“I think we will compete well. In the first year it’s all about learning and getting better. We are looking forward to it.”