Here come the McDermid Ladies

by | Blog

While some footballing eyes were on Boreham Wood as they dumped Bournemouth out of the FA Cup on Sunday, others looked to the banks of the Forth to watch McDermid Ladies emerge for their very first fixture.

Not that this was their first game together under captain Tyler Rattray.

After years as Raith Rovers, they had swapped


and the BBC, STV and Sky News were among lots of news outfits there to tell the world why.

Kirkcaldy-born crime writer and life-long Raith supporter Val McDermid was one of many to object when the Championship side recently signed 32-year-old striker David Goodwillie. The former Scotland international was ruled in a 2016 civil case to have raped a woman five years earlier.

McDermid’s protests at his signing by a strongly family-based club were more than those of a local girl made good. Her commitment stemmed from a childhood when her father had spotted the talent of youthful Jim Baxter and brought the man who would become an international legend to Stark’s Park.

Her loyalty to the club is marked by the stand dedicated to her name

and by her sponsorship of the Raith shirts.

But not any more.

After the Goodwillie signing she has not only distanced herself from the current management of the club, but has sponsored the new shirts – ones without the Raith Rovers logo – in which the McDermid Ladies appeared on Sunday.

McDermid’s protest was supported by her friend, SNP First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, and by former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown, a life-time supporter of the Fife club. Several Rovers directors and staff have left, along with much of the local voluntary support on which most small clubs depend.

The remaining members of the board eventually recognised the Goodwillie signing was a mistake and apologised. They are said to be negotiating his release, reportedly at a cost upwards of £100,000.

McDermid Ladies lost their first match on Sunday and may face more uphill struggles.

The Windmill pitch has no seating, none of the famed Stark’s Park pies, and little of the training infrastructure the women’s previous home provided not only for them but the many girls and boys currently benefitting from Raith’s comprehensive community programme.

Kirkcaldy is a pretty poor town, one badly hit by deindustrialisation over many years.

It is one where strong social cohesion and imaginative leadership are vital to its survival and the future of its children.

When the novelty of the well-publicised breakaway wears off, the need to revitalise the spirit that has sustained the club over its 139-year history will remain.