THERE will be a reminder of a distant rivalry when Kilmarnock host Hibernian at Rugby Park today. Between 2001-05 the SWPL 2 side dominated the game in Scotland, winning two league titles, two Scottish Cups, three League Cups and playing in Europe twice.

Their manager for most of that period, as will be the case for today's Sky Sports Cup quarter final, was Jim Chapman. He then switched to men's football, followed by four years working in the United States, but returned to his first coaching post in the summer.

Chapman's captain in the glory days was Shelley Kerr, while Scotland's most capped outfield player Jo Love was just starting her senior career. Megan Sneddon, another player who represented Scotland over 100 times, was in the side, as was Angie Hind.

The dizzy heights were followed by a crash landing. Kilmarnock were replaced by Hibs as the pre-eminent Scottish side, and there was complete humiliation when they played the new girls on the block, Glasgow City, in 2010.

They lost by the record scoreline of 29-0, with current City assistant coach Leanne Ross grabbing eight of the goals. Striker Jane Ross had to settle for seven.

There are, however, strong indications that Kilmarnock are on the way back. The team, which took over Stewarton Thistle in 1997, was brought under the auspices of the main club in 2020 and Chapman's return coincided with another huge step forward – seven players signing professional contracts.

Chapman is also Kilmarnock's full-time women's development officer. The club's managing director, Phyllis McLeish, appreciates women's football is a growth area.

For the moment the manager is working with the squad he inherited and their only defeat so far has been at the hands of SWPL 2 leaders Gartcairn. That result was reversed when they met again in the second round of today's competition.

Given the early nature of the Kilmarnock revival, Chapman doesn't have unrealistic expectations about today's outcome, especially as experienced former Rangers striker Lisa Swanson has been out injured for much of the early season.

“The priority for me coming in was getting the first team competitive,” he pointed out. “The girls have responded brilliantly.

“The landscape of the women's game has changed so much since my earlier involvement that I didn't really know the standard and levels it was at. The gulf between the two leagues at the moment is very big, but our challenge is to close that gap.

“It's a transition period for Hibs and it has taken them some time to gel with new players coming in. Unfortunately for us they're maybe starting to come good at the wrong time.”

MONTROSE paid a heavy price for failing to notify the SWPL that they were playing London Pollard as a trialist last Sunday. The Scotland under-19 striker scored twice and was player-of-the-match in a 3-2 home win over Boroughmuir Thistle – but the result was reversed to a 3-0 win for the Edinburgh side at a disciplinary hearing on Friday.

Despite the judgement, Pollard will be allowed to play three games as a trialist before her pre-contract signing makes her a Montrose player in January. While other SWPL 2 clubs might not be impressed, a similar ruling also applies in the SPFL for Leagues 1 and 2.

Pollard, who is blessed with powerful physical attributes, is at Montrose because her registration with Motherwell was terminated abruptly. Her development was in good hands under Paul Brownlie and Leanne Crichton, but the interference of a third party triggered the departure.

Playing for five different SWPL clubs before she turned 18 on Tuesday can't have helped the striker's early career. Hopefully her latest chapter will provide the stability and environment to allow her undoubted talent to blossom.

KEVIN Murphy will start his new job as recruitment officer for the Arsenal women's team tomorrow. It's the first time the WSL club has created such a post, and it's likely to lead to the women's team having its own recruitment department.

“My role predominantly will be working with the first team management trying to source players they would like,” Murphy, who was women's academy manager at Rangers, but also played a big part in their recruitment process, explained. “If Jonas (Eidevall) speaks to the general manager Clare (Wheatley) and says he wants a type of player, it will be up to me to present to him the three best I think will suit.”

The job sounds an enviable one, with Murphy continuing to be based in Scotland and making trips to London and abroad to assess serious signing targets when required.