If you happened to be pottering about the Carstairs village green on August 21, 1628, you probably would’ve witnessed a rather frightful stooshie.

What’s that over there? Why it’s some women playing fitba. And who’s that up yonder? Well, it’s the infuriated local Minister shaking his fist on the kirk steps and demanding an immediate halt to the insolent behaviour which has disrupted the solemn reflection and worship of the Sabbath.

It was very much a case of thou shall not control a cross from Bessy and clatter a tidy half volley beyond Doreen’s despairing dive.

“It actually gave me goose bumps to think I might be standing on the same pitch where the first recorded female game in Europe was played,” said Scotland’s female footballing trailblazer, Rose Reilly, as she marked the 390th anniversary of this particular kick about.

A transcript from the Presbytery of Lanark registers confirms that a complaint was made by the Meenistur to his flock about Sunday football and, thus, provides the earliest known record of women playing the game. It’s perhaps a good job the decorated Reilly wasn’t around in those tut-tutting times of yore. She’d have been put on trial for heresy after a couple of Jimmy Johnstone jinks and jouks.

Reilly’s story is well-documented and rightly celebrated; the Ayrshire lass and real life Gregory’s Girl whose footballing talent and drive took her beyond the stifling rules and attitudes in her homeland and led to her becoming a World Cup winner with her adopted country of Italy. “There was a Scottish heart beating under the Italian jersey and that’s what matters,” maintains the 63-year-old with patriotic gusto.

Female football in Scotland has certainly evolved from 1628 and it’s come on since Reilly was banned from representing her nation and left to pursue her professional ambitions on the continent.

A talented pentathlete, the lure of the beautiful game was too hard to resist. “I decided to give up my whole career in athletics to pursue a football career that didn’t exist,” she recalled. “My parents nearly killed me.”

Here in 2018, the current Scotland women’s team, under the stewardship of Shelley Kerr, is very much in the hunt to qualify for the World Cup finals for the first time while the country’s maiden appearance at the European Championships last summer was a significant milestone. There is a lot of work to do, though.

“The game is evolving but the league could be stronger and if we don’t get semi-professional at least in Scotland then it will be hard for the leagues to grow,” she warned. “That means that the national team, where most of the players are professional, is like a tall tree that, for now, is beautiful but there are no roots and without roots it will fall one day.

“What needs to happen is that we somehow have to pump money into the game and strengthen the leagues. Making the World Cup would be a significant step. That’s when the sponsors would roll in and there would be more media coverage. It would be a great kick start.

“There are more people coming because the games are more competitive and more important. Punters don’t turn up for just anything but the more important the game is and the more successful the team is, the more interest there will be.

“There is a lot of pressure on Shelley and the national team but the bigger the game the better it was for me. I’m sure they’re the same.”

Things are moving in the right direction. Results from a survey issued the other day on parental attitudes stated that mums and dads in the UK are increasingly enthusiastic about their daughters playing football.

“It used to be the men who were against women’s football but now more and more dads are encouraging their daughters,” added Reilly. “If I brought cups back home my mum would just say, “aww no, that’s just more to dust’. That was the level of admiration. They would never say it but I’m sure they were proud.”

Reilly has plenty to be proud of from a fulfilling sporting life. The tale about her as an eight-year-old getting a short back and sides, changing her name from Rose to Ross and scoring a barrow load of goals in front of a Celtic scout who said, ‘I want the wee number seven’ only to be told ‘it’s a wee lassie’ should be preserved in the Hampden museum.

Reilly thrived against the odds. Inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame in 2007, this golden girl finally joined the big boys.