PhD Thesis: Against the Run of Play The History of Women’s Football in Scotland 1960 to 2020

Activity: Examination


Discourse within the predominantly white male heteronormative football community in Scotland, positions women’s football as a recent phenomenon that has yet to earn respect. The exclusion of women from Scottish sporting and historical narratives has resulted in a lack of evidence to refute this assertion. Similarly, while woman’s football has proved a valuable source of investigation for the social sciences, particularly sports history and gender studies, the study and analysis of the ‘Scottish experience’ has been limited. In countering these positions, this thesis provides a significant original contribution to knowledge by charting the history of women’s football in Scotland across the past sixty years, from ad hoc matches with inadequate facilities to record participation levels following qualification for the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019TM.

The historical account renders visible three areas: the development and growth of the domestic and international game; the leadership and governance of women’s football from amateur to professional organisation and the lived experience of the women directly involved, revealing voices previously excluded from the narrative.
Additionally, the thesis examines the slow progression of Scottish women’s football in comparison to other selected European countries, identifying factors which affected Scotland’s rate of development. Drawing on feminist discourse concerning barriers to women’s involvement in football, it positions both the slow rate of development and lack of awareness of women’s long involvement in football, in the context of the hegemonic football community in Scotland.

The research information was gathered from oral history interviews with key players, coaches and administrators and archive material from Scottish Women’s Football, the Scottish Football Museum and newspaper and private collections. These sources reveal the voices and narratives of the women who resisted barriers to them playing, persisted against the odds and worked tirelessly to develop and promote women’s football in Scotland.
PeriodJun 2021
Examination held at
  • University of Stirling
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • football
  • women's sport
  • sport history
  • research methods
  • oral history