Shelley Kerr ‘could have been SPFL’s first female coach’ but male boardroom said no

Scotland Head Coach Shelley Kerr
Scotland Head Coach Shelley Kerr
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Crime writer Val McDermid has revealed how she tried to make Scotland Women’s national team coach Shelley Kerr the first female manager of an SPFL team.

Kerr, 49, last night led Scotland’s women in to their historic first World Cup group fixture as they lost 2-1 to England’s “Lionesses” in Nice.

Crime author Val McDermid at her beloved Raith Rovers ground Stark's Park

Crime author Val McDermid at her beloved Raith Rovers ground Stark's Park

But crime writer McDermid revealed Kerr could have been in charge of her beloved Raith Rovers instead if she had her way.

The best-selling crime author is a life-long fan of the Kirkcaldy club and was a director at Stark’s Park from 2011.

Although she no longer holds a position in the boardroom, McDermid still sponsors a stand at the ground as well as players’ strips.

She said that during her time in the boardroom, she mooted the idea of appointing Kerr as boss.

McDermid claimed the idea was turned down by male colleagues. She said she believed Rovers, who are playing in League One, missed a golden opportunity, adding: “Far be it from me to say that I saw her first as it were, but a few seasons ago when I was on the board and we were looking for a new manager, I did bring up the name of Shelley Kerr. Nobody in the boardroom dared to say ‘well, she’s a woman’, but there were all these sorts of weird excuses as to why we couldn’t really interview Shelley Kerr and why we couldn’t have Shelley Kerr as our manager.

“Nobody quite had the balls to say ‘we’re not having a woman’ while I was in the room.

“We could have been in a whole different place at the moment if we had gone with Shelley Kerr, I tell you that.”

Kerr had a glittering playing career, winning 59 caps and scoring three goals for Scotland’s women as a defender, before embarking on coaching.

Her time as coach has included a spell at leading English club side Arsenal in which they won two FA Women’s Cups.

When McDermid suggested Kerr for Raith Rovers, she had just made history by becoming Britain’s first female coach of a senior men’s team, Stirling University, of the Lowland League. McDermid said: “We’ve already got clubs being run by women – Leeann Dempster at Hibs, Ann Budge at Hearts and Jacqui Low at Partick Thistle – so this is the way things are going. People are actually understanding that women can do this and know what they are talking about.”

McDermid became involved at Raith Rovers thanks to her father, who was a scout for the club and discovered the young Jim Baxter, who would later become a legend of the game. She also sponsors the McDermid Stand at Stark’s Park and has mentioned Raith Rovers in one of her crime novels.

McDermid said she was delighted to see Kerr in charge of Scotland’s women and hopes they can go on and win the World Cup

“Shelley’s being clever by not raising our expectations too high – she’s not doing the Ally’s Army thing and saying ‘we’re going to win the World Cup’,” McDermid said.

“She’s said our goal is to get beyond the group stage, so she’s not putting too much pressure on the team.”