Striker Lisa Swanson was part of Rangers' first ever female team and went on to become the first female player to reach over ten years of service for the club. After an 11-year association with her childhood club, Swanson recently took on a new challenge with Hearts Women.
We caught up with her to chat about her career to date, how she's coping with lockdown, and what she's missing about the game.
What's your earliest football memory? Playing football in the street as a kid. There’s a picture of me as a five-year-old after my first day at school and I’m standing with my little brother and two cousins holding a football under my arm. Playing football with them that day is probably my earliest memory.
What made you fall in love with football? Rangers Football Club. I was brought up as a Rangers supporter and we always had Rangers games on in the house. My Nana and Dad are massive Rangers fans, as are the majority of my family, so I’m sure that played a part in it too.
What's your greatest footballing achievement so far? Signing for Rangers and being the first female player in the club’s history to reach over ten years' service. As a kid I always used to complain to my Nana about how it wasn’t fair I couldn’t play for Rangers – the girls' and women’s set up didn’t happen until 2007/2008 – so to go from that to then spending 11 years at the club is something that is still unbelievable to me. Another big achievement for me was being Rangers captain for a few games and then going on to become the captain for Kilmarnock Women's FC in 2019.
What's been the toughest challenge of your career so far? My last year at Rangers was my most challenging. To play for a manager who doesn’t believe in you and have them question your ability and mental health state is something I found difficult. Despite going on loan (at Kilmarnock) and doing well and in a way proving them wrong, sometimes coming up against a manager who doesn’t favour you for whatever reason leaves you fighting a losing battle. Are there any football dreams you're yet to accomplish?
There was still a lot I wanted to achieve but things have changed now since moving on. Right now I want to do the best I can for Hearts and try and be an important player for the club. They’ve given me a chance to play in the SWPL 1 again so right now I’m just focusing on doing the best I can for Hearts and just taking it a game at a time. Hopefully I can score a lot of goals for the club.
You played one league game for Hearts before lockdown began. Did it feel significant that that game was against Rangers?
It was a bit strange being back at the training ground at first, but other than that it was fine. Playing against Rangers and their new team didn’t phase me at all, plus I know the club inside out and know what’s expected of you when you’re a Rangers player so I used that to my advantage.
What are you missing most about the game? I’m just missing football in general but I’m coping with it better than I thought I would. It’s been good to have a rest too, playing football is a massive commitment and it can feel like having another full-time job at times, but I do miss it and I’m looking forward to getting back.
What's your lockdown routine like? I’m working from home at the moment so I’m being kept really busy with that. I’m making sure I’m training everyday too. I have been injured for the majority of lockdown though so it’s giving me a chance to rest properly and train at my own pace.
What are you most looking forward to about playing again? I’m looking forward to getting back into competitive games again. I’m looking forward to playing in a derby game again by coming up against Hibernian Women. I’ve spent 11 years playing in Old Firm games so it’ll be good to get back into that sort of environment again where you’re playing your biggest rivals.
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Who do you support? Glasgow Rangers
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Best game you've ever seen live? Too difficult to choose just one game so I’ll go for European nights at Ibrox and Old Firm games that I’ve been too – it's always the best atmospheres at those games, though I only enjoy them when we win.
Best goal you've ever scored? Probably a goal for Kilmarnock against Hamilton, controlled it from a cross on the 18-yard line and hit it into the bottom corner.
Number one tip you'd give to an aspiring player Don’t let others discourage you from playing or make you feel like you’re not a good enough player, find a team where you’ll be appreciated and you’ll enjoy your football a lot better.
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