Julie Fleeting: The Scotland and Arsenal legend's incredible story told in a new documentary

“It was always ‘there is a lassie playing in their team’, every single game, but I couldn't care less what they were saying and pointing at me”

All those years ago, as a nine-year-old, turning out for Cunninghame Boys Club, Julie Fleeting was turning heads. However, what no one knew at the time the person being talked about and pointed at would become a Scottish football legend.

The country’s record scorer 116 goals in 121 appearances, an MBE, a glut of trophies, both individual and as part of a team, and a legacy.

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Now Fleeting's story has been told in an eponymous BBC Alba documentary.

Julie Fleeting is a Scotland legend. Picture: SNSJulie Fleeting is a Scotland legend. Picture: SNS
Julie Fleeting is a Scotland legend. Picture: SNS

From her beginnings at Cunninghame Boys Club to uprooting her life to play professionally in the US, which she describes as the “hardest thing” she did in her life, and then back to the UK with Arsenal is all explored.

As is a look at juggling playing with work and family life, including returning to action two months after giving birth.

‘Julie Fleeting’ is the story of a trailblazer who encountered adversity throughout her career as a footballer. Whether it was giving up a day's wages as a teacher to play for Scotland, paying for her own hotel rooms on international duty or the hand-me-down shirts.

“My expectation level was so low that I was so grateful for every single thing that was given to me," she said. “But now that I've taken a step back and I look at it, it was so wrong that my brother could have been given the world and the opportunity to go all the way up the ladder and be paid to play football and stay in his hometown and I had to move to the other side of the world to get that opportunity.

Fleeting is the star of a new documentary looking at her career. Picture: SNSFleeting is the star of a new documentary looking at her career. Picture: SNS
Fleeting is the star of a new documentary looking at her career. Picture: SNS

“Now I can see how far women’s football has come and watch the players that have been developed through the game, I'm so proud to have been a part of it.”

As well as hearing from Fleeting herself, various voices add weight to her story. From dad Jim Fleeting who used to manage her for Scotland to husband Colin Stewart, the goalkeeping coach at Rangers, to former Scotland team-mates Shelley Kerr and Rhonda Jones and Vic Akers who signed her for Arsenal.

It was a documentary that couldn’t not be made.

Margot McCuaig, purpleTV producer and director, said: “Julie Fleeting is a phenomenal football talent and in making this film I have had the opportunity to view archive that has quite simply taken my breath away.

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However, whilst Julie was undoubtedly driven and career focused on the pitch, what is also remarkable about her is her strength of character in overcoming anxiety, her humility and compassion, and the role she has played in creating space for other women to excel. Telling Julie Fleeting’s inspirational story of football and family for BBC ALBA has been an absolute privilege.”

‘Julie Fleeting’ is produced by purpleTV for BBC ALBA. It aired on Sunday, can be watched at 10pm on Friday, April 15 and is available for 30 days on BBC iPlayer.

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