Rossvale: Using strong foundations to reach for the stars

Third-tier SWF Championship side Rossvale have come a long way as a senior side in a short time – culminating with their last 16 Scottish Cup tie at the weekend against top-tier giants Rangers. Shaun Youngs, Rossvale’s matchday co-ordinator, spoke to Impetus’ Ben Gilby about the club’s formation, their exceptionally strong youth section, and their sustainable plans to gain promotion (15/2/23).

Above: Action from Rossvale’s historic home game with Rangers in the Scottish Cup last Sunday. Photo supplied to Impetus by: Kelly Neilson.

After being founded just before the COVID outbreak, Rossvale’s senior team have experienced sustained success, leading them to a Scottish Cup tie with the mighty Rangers and the cusp of second-tier football.

Speaking to Impetus, Shaun Youngs explained how the senior team got off the ground: “Rossvale acquired well-known and saught after coach Edward Gallagher and started building both on and off the pitch. Edward got a core of a team and his background staff secured then he was headhunted and appointed to a full-time position at English Championship side London City Lionesses.

Above: Rossvale, in their black away kit, celebrate a goal on the road. Photo supplied to Impetus by: Kelly Neilson.

“Once Edward left, the main target was to secure a manager and staff and then build a squad whilst also ticking all boxes in regard to compliance. We then appointed ex-Dundee player Craig Tully and had a very long wait during the pandemic.

Through this period, we kept in touch with the team at Scottish Women’s Football (SWF) and made sure we were ready to go once the world went back to some normality. Once this did happen, we were very proud to be added to the performance arm of the SWF structure therefore we knew we would be playing at the Championship standard.

“We had a phenomenal first season in 2022 and finished in a playoff position to be played against the second in the league from the North section. We were beaten in the playoff but were really pleased with the progress the whole club had made to contributing to this high-placed finish.”

In terms of what was the difference between Rossvale and the teams who pipped them to the post for promotion, Youngs felt: “In all honesty, it was probably experience on and off the park.

Above: A close-knit squad is key to Rossvale’s success. Captain Lauren Coleman, sponsored by Impetus gets a piggy back ride. Photo supplied to Impetus by: Kelly Neilson.

“Montrose and Gartcairn who were both automatically promoted are well established and really deserved to go up. That is being proven by their positions in the SWPL 2 this season. East Fife, who we played in the play off, and ourselves was a case of the best team on the day and unfortunately for us, East Fife were that on the day.       

“Once the season was finished, the club parted company with Tully due to footballing differences. Once again, we excelled in capturing a great manager this time from Celtic U18’s, Julie McSherry.

“Julie has been there and done it as a coach and a player so knows the women’s and girls’ game well. She started her time in charge by going to all the youth teams to introduce herself. She then worked tirelessly to build her squad. This season we are currently sitting second in the league with a real chance of progressing to SWPL 2 (tier two) and we made it through to the last 16 of the Scottish Cup, which saw us host Rangers. 

Rossvale’s success story is far from being just about their senior side. The club has a very large girls’ section consisting of 220 players in total. Six of their U18 squad have played senior football this season and been on the scoresheet too.

Above: Rossvale in possession. Photo supplied to Impetus by: Kelly Neilson.

The age group sides at Rossvale are continuing to expand as Youngs explained: “We are constantly recruiting and expanding with the pathway flourishing. We really hope to see some younger players from U16s and U18s make their senior debuts shortly. We are lucky to have Dave Caldwell who oversees the pathway. The Euros definitely helped not just Rossvale but the women’s game as a whole.”

In terms of how this season is progressing, cup run apart, the club’s matchday coordinator highlights the continued successes that Rossvale are experiencing.                                                            

“We had a tough first game away at Inverness Caledonian Thistle and narrowly lost 5-4. Since then we’ve gone on to win eight, lost three, and drawn one. We are second in the SWF Championship table with a +12 positive goal difference and only six points behind Livingston who have come out of the traps fast only dropping points in two games, with a loss and a draw.  

Should the team go one better than their debut campaign and gain promotion, Youngs is confident that they can definitely sustain a place in the second tier for starters.

Above: Rossvale (black) in action at Livingston, in a battle of the top two in this season’s tier three SWF Championship. Photo: Kelly Neilson.

“We are so lucky to have great team sponsors in Bishopbriggs Kitchen Depot, George Leslie LTD, and Barraston Contracts who have supported us this season and they have agreed to carry on the support into next season which is amazing and means that financially we are set for the step up.

We also are lucky that all players and staff are sponsored – including captain Lauren Coleman, who Impetus sponsor. The Committee are working away to make sure that everything is set in stone for Julie McSherry to be able to concentrate on the training pitch and during games.  

With potential promotion comes bigger-name opponents. The men’s SPL clubs are putting more resources into their women’s teams, meaning life gets that bit harder for non-SPL or SFL-aligned female teams such as Rossvale to continue to grow. However, Youngs feels that the club can rise to the challenge.

“The massive hard work in obtaining the sponsors that we have and their continued support is the key. We are also constantly looking to add further sponsorship. Football at this level isn’t cheap and we want our players and fans to be able to enjoy the facilities at the likes of Petershill the same way as Celtic, Partick Thistle, and Glasgow City do. We have season tickets and sell some merchandise to help.

Above: Rossvale captain Lauren Coleman, proudly sponsored by Impetus. Photo supplied to Impetus by: Kelly Neilson.

“Currently, the biggest issue is getting players that are SWPL ready to agree to sign for us when there is no guarantee (of promotion). This is the same as trying to get more sponsorship. There is a massive gulf between the Championship to the SWPL on all levels and bridging the gap is difficult. Julie has a fantastic squad, and they will be fine, but as in any league you always want experience and talent from that level.”

Impetus is proud to be sponsoring Rossvale club captain Lauren Coleman. Lauren is described as “a born leader, who has so much passion for the game and the club. She was one of the first players that the club signed as she has been there and done it including winning the Championship. The younger girls look up to her and she provides so much wisdom.”

Above: Impetus sponsored Rossvale captain Lauren Coleman hopes to have lots more to celebrate as the Glasgow-based club move towards the conclusion of the season. Photo supplied to Impetus by: Kelly Neilson.

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