Owing to the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic, the future of football at all levels is incredibly uncertain. Predictions of when football can be played and when fans can return to stadiums vary wildly from day to day.
With Scotland’s Euro 2020 Playoff Semi-Final against Israel postponed until further notice and Euro 2020 pushed back to the summer of 2021, it seems safe to admit that from a Scotland National Team perspective, the 2019/20 season is over.
Therefore, it seems an appropriate time to reflect on the 2019/20 season for Scotland’s male, female and youth sides and dish out some awards! In this series of articles, we’ll reveal the shortlists for the first inaugural Tartan Scarf Player of the Season Awards. These shortlists will be voted on by you, the Tartan Army over on the Tartan Scarf Twitter page!
SWNT – Player of the Season
It makes sense to start with our national team who have enjoyed the most recent success! Shelley Kerr’s side kicked of the 2019/20 season having returned from the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup at the end of the group stage, winless but having competed strongly in every game.
Since returning from France, Scotland kicked off Euro 2021 (now 2022) qualifying in scintillating fashion with an 8-0 win at home to Cyprus and a 5-0 victory in Albania. In March, Scotland travelled to Spain to compete in the Pinatar Cup, bringing home the trophy after three wins from three. All in all, an excellent season for the SWNT!
For this award, Scotland Women’s football expert (and host of the excellent Leading the Line podcast) Chris Marshall kindly provided his shortlist of the best performing female Scottish players for the 2019/20 season.
And the nominees are…
Caroline Weir, 24 (Manchester City)
It's hard not to be impressed with the Manchester City midfielder both in terms of aesthetic performance and raw numbers. She has played every single available minute for the side who currently sit top of the FAWSL table and she has contributed three goals and four assists including a howitzer on the opening day against Manchester United.
Her movement across the park can be an absorbing ninety minutes all of its own but it is her vision that really stands out as demonstrated by the volume of assists she has accumulated for the national side in the last few months. That form saw her handed the captains armband for the first time during the Pinatar Cup as Ukraine were defeated 3-0 and her free kick against Jamaica slips into the shadows when contrasted with the Erin Cuthbert strike that went viral but was perhaps even more impressive in terms of technique. A player who still has room to grow and get even better, a proposition that should excite every Scotland fan.
Caroline has also just become the 150th member of the Common Goal project which sees part of her salary donated to football charities across the globe, adding philanthropy to her undoubted football class.
Claire Emslie, 26 (Orlando City / Melbourne City)
With seemingly boundless energy Emslie will forever be the answer to the quiz question, “Which player was Scotland’s first goalscorer at a Women’s World Cup?”, and since the tournament she has added another three goals to her tally with Scotland going on a five game winning run with her late sprints towards the back post providing a constant threat.
It’s been a big year on the club front too, after spending the NWSL campaign playing alongside the likes of Marta and Alex Morgan at Orlando Pride, the winger has also enjoyed a successful spell in Australia on loan with Melbourne City. She scored four times in ten games as Melbourne City won both the W-League during the regular season and the Grand Final in March of this year, in front of an empty AAMI Park in Melbourne. Having already knocked off the States, England and Australia it will be interesting to see where next for Emslie.
Erin Cuthbert, 21 (Chelsea)
Is there anybody in the Tartan Army who has not been charmed by the charismatic Cuthbert? Her goal against Jamaica as Scotland headed off to the World Cup in front of a record crowd is destined to be referenced long after the forward has retired but it’s her tenacity and the exuberance with which she plays the game that endears her to the masses.
She was key in Scotland’s opening flurry against Argentina and perhaps scored an even better goal than she did against the Jamaicans during the Pinatar Cup, her swinging effort leaving Northern Ireland goalkeeper Jacqueline Burns flummoxed.
For Chelsea she has had another productive season amongst an increasingly competitive squad having netted twice and provided four assists in the WSL and she was part of the Blues side that defeated Arsenal in the final of the Conti Cup. The football world very much remains her oyster.
Kim Little, 29 (Arsenal)
It was a low-key World Cup for Little who perhaps found herself deployed deeper than most would have preferred. Her goal was the catalyst for what looked like being a successful night against Argentina in Paris but by now I think we all know how that ended.
In Scotland’s first Euro 2021 Qualifier she was the undoubted star of the show, netting five as Scotland routed Cyprus 8-0 and she continues to be a player of the highest calibre in the women’s game with frequent standout performances for Arsenal this season where she has netted five times and assisted twice. It was she who was the probing force as Arsenal finally broke down Manchester United to secure a 1-0 victory in Leigh earlier in the season and her trademark shimmy was in full effect as she scored the opener at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the North London derby.
Sometimes underrated when compared with some of her flashier peers she remains a class act.
And the winner is...
Followers of The Tartan Scarf on Twitter voted, with Erin Cuthbert being awarded the Golden Scarf Award for SWNT Player of the Year!