MEMORIES of September 29, 2011, returned when Glasgow City were paired with Valur in Friday's Champions League second qualifying round draw. The Icelanders were the opposition for City's first-ever last 32 tie in the competition.

On a night of anticipation at Petershill Park, an early goal by Lisa Evans was cancelled out by Laufey Olafsdottir. That gave Valur the edge for the second leg in Reykjavik the following week.

Instead, an early own goal, followed by Evans again finding the net twice, allowed Eddie Wolecki Black's side to win 4-1 on aggregate. That led to an inaugural last 16 qualification – and although it proved to be a humbling experience for City, German champions Turbine Potsdam saw enough in the 20-year-old Evans to offer her a first professional contract.

The home game against Valur was the first time Scottish newspapers had shown more than a cursory interest in women's club football. There was an attendance of almost 800 – unheard of at the time – and the various elements made a big impact at a point when the sport was being openly derided and mocked.

The sides will meet again in Reykjavik next midweek but the circumstances couldn't be more different. The tie is winner-takes-all, but far more troubling are Covid-19 issues.

Although Valur were able to host, and beat, HFK Helsinki on Wednesday, the Icelandic league has been halted because of the pandemic. Games today and next Sunday have been cancelled, but Scott Booth nevertheless believes the Champions League tie will go ahead against a side he has watched and respects.

“I've seen them play a lot because I watch the Icelandic league for potential scouting of players,” the City head coach pointed out. “There's no doubt they're a good side.”

The contrived Uefa draw, which took into account travel restrictions and – somewhat implausibly – geographical proximity, could have seen City travel to Russia to play CSKA Moscow. It would have been an easier footballing tie, but a potential travel nightmare without the luxury of chartered flights.

What City, of course, were praying for was a home tie. They got one four nights ago against Peamount United in the first qualifying round, but turned in a bafflingly insipid performance against the Irish underdogs and needed Lee Alexander's saves in the penalty shoot-out to go through.

Not one City outfield player lived up to expectations, while Peamount's approach and unexpected energy were exemplary. The Dubliners' shot at glory ended in the cruellest manner when Lauryn O'Callaghan, the daughter of the team's head coach, failed to convert the night's final spot kick.

Remarkably, City have qualified for the last 32 of the competition every season since that inaugural 2011 match at Petershill Park. It would be a huge twist of fate if Valur were to be the side who halted that run.

“We'll need to play better against them than we did against Peamount, that's for sure,” Booth confirmed.


A MASSIVE twelve days for Hibernian starts this afternoon when they host Rangers in the live BBC Alba game. That's followed by Glasgow City next Sunday and Celtic a week on Friday – the latter also in front of the Alba cameras.

The bad news for Hibs is that Shannon McGregor is out for the season according to head coach Dean Gibson. The former Aberdeen midfielder has an ACL injury, which, following a previous knee problems, is desperate news for an excellent young player.

Rangers will be without Sonia O'Neill and Megan Bell. Neither has played in the opening two league games and head coach Malky Thomson says they won't be rushed back from their injuries.

Adding spice to today's game is Rangers having five ex-Hibs players available. Amy Muir, who made her Scotland debut in March and was brought into the squad for the recent games against Albania and Finland, has made the journey in the opposite direction.


BBC SCOTLAND have apologised for failing to tell viewers that last Sunday's promised stream of the Hearts v Celtic game at Oriam wouldn't be shown as advertised.

While there were logistical problems with filming at both the outdoor and indoor pitches, what was inexcusable was not relaying this information. Potential viewers were left searching the relevant website in vain for coverage of a game which Celtic won 10-0.

“It was a one-off situation and our commitment to stream SWPL matches remains the same,” a BBC spokesperson told me. “We're sorry we didn't signpost that the game wouldn't be shown.”