There is an added piquancy to the possibility of Hibernian winning a fourth successive SSE Scottish Women’s Cup against arch-rivals Glasgow City today. For Joelle Murray, who not only wears the Hibs armband but is a life-long supporter of the club, the venue for this afternoon’s final offers an enticing bonus ball.
“First and foremost lifting the Scottish Cup for the fourth successive time would be great, but to do it in a Hibs strip at Tynecastle would be absolutely fantastic,” the central defender pointed out. “Hopefully we’ll have Sunshine on Leith in the background as well…”
There may be limits to Hearts’ hospitality, even in the less polarised atmosphere of the women’s game, but in any event Murray and her team-mates will do well just to achieve their primary aim. Hibs face a Glasgow City side which was presented with a 13th successive league trophy last Sunday, having won 20 of their 21 games.
City’s only slip-up was in the penultimate match against Celtic, and even then there were extenuating circumstances. Less than 72 hours earlier they had gone to an exhausting extra-time and penalties before beating Brondby to claim a place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Based on results, which include three narrow SWPL1 wins over Hibs, the Glasgow side are the clear favourites. Yet when the teams met in the League Cup final in May it was Hibs who prevailed – on penalties.
A really curious pattern has emerged in the games between the two sides. It is now 12 years and 20 days since Hibs beat City in a league match. Yet the Edinburgh side have won the last seven domestic knock-out competitions, and on each occasion have beaten today’s opponents at some stage of these tournaments, not always in 90 minutes.
For one player, in particular, today’s game will be a novel experience. Glasgow City’s Rachel McLauchlan, pictured, won the Scottish Cup with Hibs in each of the past three seasons before departing in January for a brief sojourn with FA WSL side Yeovil Town. They went into administration and in July McLauchlan signed a professional contract with City.
“When I was at Hibs it was the City games you looked forward to and wanted to be involved in,” the 22-year-old right-sided player, who has seven Scotland caps, pointed out. “I’ve now played against Hibs two times in the league.
“Maybe playing against them you get that extra foot in, which is to be expected. It’s why we play football and we love it for that reason.”
Hibs’ previous three Scottish Cup wins were at the grounds of Livingston, Hamilton and Partick Thistle. Last year’s final against then SWPL2 side Motherwell was a competitive non-event, with Hibs winning 8-0 and striker Jamie Lee Napier notching a hat-trick. Tynecastle today will be an entirely different proposition.