What so wild as words are?

A couple of throwaway ones caused quite a stir this week.  In the aftermath of a glib ‘good girl’, one wonders if any of those worms that crawled out of the can manage to burrow into the consciousness of the many who rushed to get involved.

There are a number of points to be made on the matter. Around language and context, certainly. But also a conversation about the weight that words carry and the lingering impression they leave behind.

First things first, though. Having worked closely around Brendan Rodgers in his first term in Glasgow it would be disingenuous to offer an opinion that suggested anything other than manicured manners and a comfortable working relationship. There was never any point in which there was disparity around the treatment of a female reporter in a room full of male equivalents.

Secondly, as a former colleague observed, Rodgers was quick to offer then Scotland manager Anna Signeul congratulations and offer an invite to Lennoxtown after she had led Scotland to the 2017 European Championships. That recognition came after an apathetic shrug of the shoulders from the rest of the country.

The idea that the ‘good girl’ remark paints Rodgers in black and white terms as sexist is wrong. Just as it was wrong to brand him a ‘dinosaur.’ But, equally, the language itself was unambiguously condescending and sexist in its tone coming as it did as a dismissal on the back of an awkward and prickly interview. 

Whether the reporter in question took offence or not is an irrelevance.

These are what we call teaching moments for those open-minded enough to close mouths and open ears. And judging by the comments on social media any such education appears as fanciful a notion as peace, love and understanding.  

Indeed, just this week as the aftermath of the comments continued to resonate it was notable how weaponised that little phrase had already become. As a steady stream of online abuse was directed towards this writer in the aftermath of a full-time broadcast report from Rugby Park on Wednesday night, there were repeated insults concluding with those two words. Intended, of course, as its own dismissal. 

For the next while these will become a shorthand for those - mostly faceless - keyboard clinkers who cannot disagree with a female without invoking kitchens, sinks, dinners and dishes. Short on originality? Yes. But toxic nonetheless. 

Language is an evolving organism that moves and changes as fluidly as the cultures we live in; it is why the kind of phrases commonly used in the ‘70s and ‘80s for nipping to a local corner shop would horrify us now. 

That evolution comes through a willingness to hear and, more importantly, appreciate an alternative point of view; to understand the baggage and connotations that come with the terminology of daily lives. 

It is why the words we use, and the context with which we deliver them, matters.


On first viewing the optics around a long-term contract for Pedro Martinez Losa last autumn may not look like the most sensible of options.

It raised an eyebrow at the time given that it came on the back of a failed FIFA Women’s World Cup play-off with the Republic of Ireland nicking Scotland to take their place in Australia and New Zealand with that glitzy opener against the co-hosts serving to rub salt in the wound.

Suspicions that the new contract was premature seemed to intensify with a woeful Nations League campaign that finished without Scotland claiming a solitary win.

This week’s penalty shoot-out defeat in the Pinatar Cup only served to reaffirm a lethargic look to the national team that doesn’t bode well for the European Championships campaign that kicks off in April.

There is an insipidness about the squad and the style of football. 

It also, though, leads to a point where there has to be a look at the squad as a whole and a conversation about the reasons why they have underachieved across recent campaigns. On paper Scotland have sufficient quality to be making it to major tournaments.

Having an influential player shout ‘that’s not the gameplan!’ to the dugout during a game also raises significant questions about the culture around the squad. Would Erin Cuthbert have done the same at club level – and would Emma Hayes have taken it? 

Scotland have players playing in the top leagues and competing at Champions League level, increasingly a barometer just as it is in the men’s game of the quality within a squad. Caroline Weir was always going to be a significant loss given her pedigree and the fact she is playing at the peak of her game, while Emma Watson has made a big impression too on the squad in a short space of time.

But there is a campaign to be negotiated without them and Scotland need to be judged on whether they get there or not. Players and management.


This week witnessed the tentative return of Caroline Weir and Emma Watson to training as they got back on the grass.

It won’t just be Martinez Losa who is delighted to see the two of them back after serious injury. One is in the peak of a career and the other is at the opening chapter of what looks like an exciting career ahead of her.

The mental and physical toll the injuries will have taken across the last five months is difficult to underestimate.