By Colin Byiers
Former Hamilton captain, Amy Anderson, has achieved a lot in here career already, but joining the team she supported was a dream come true. At Motherwell, the midfielder hopes to continue to improve as a player, playing against and with some of the top players in this country.
Colin Byiers spoke with Amy recently about her career, her international hopes, and the continued growth of the Women’s game in Scotland.
Amy, tell me how it all started then, what’s your early memories of playing football?
To be honest, it was all my dad! I would play over at the park a few times a week with him, working on some of the technical stuff like passing and touch. From there, I actually got picked up for my first team. A guy who was out walking his dog, just happened to be passing and he was a coach of a football team. He spoke with my dad and asked me to come along to training on the Tuesday, and from there I’ve played for a team ever since. I was kicking a ball from when I could basically in a Motherwell strip, so the obvious next step was to be in a football team. I wasn’t going to games at that stage, but not long after that I did get my first season ticket for Fir Park.
You were in Motherwell’s youth set up at one point too, before moving to Glasgow City.
Yeah, it was good being there as a Motherwell fan, but the set up was great. They weren’t really connected to the men’s team. I had to move away because I was at under 13’s and there wasn’t an under 15’s team for me to move up to, so I moved to Wishaw Juniors first, and my dad became one of the coaches there, which was good but not so good at the same time! (laughs). We did well at Wishaw, we got to the Scottish Cup final, I got recognition at Scotland. I was capped at Under 15’s while at Wishaw, which was unusual because most of the players played for Celtic, Rangers or Glasgow City, so for me to be playing with them was good for the club and raised the profile a bit and was also good for me.
I then moved to Glasgow City, played there for a few years but broke my ankle while I was there, so was on the sidelines for a while. I was in the development team but was still training with the first team once a week. Then I realise that getting game time is unlikely at Glasgow City. I was getting opportunities, but I wanted to be playing games and playing first team football.
What were the differences in the set ups at Motherwell then and Glasgow City?
They (Glasgow City) had everything in place. I was in the Under 17’s team, but they had an Under 9’s, 11’s, 13’s and 15’s, then at that time it was Reserves then First team, so there was always a team for you to go to after you had outgrown the age group you were in. Looking back now, it’s a shame for Motherwell, but thankfully they have everything in place now.
After Glasgow City, you joined Hamilton. How did that move come about?
I had left Glasgow City, and I was at college, Gary Doctor, who was coach at Hamilton, happened to be at a coaching event I was at, and I had mentioned to him that I had left Glasgow City, and would he be keen on bringing me in as I had worked with him at regionals in the past. I knew what Gary was all about and he knew me as a player, so I went to training on the Tuesday, and signed for Hamilton. At that time, there was quite a high turnover of players at Hamilton, quite a few girls had left and when I signed, I was one of about 12 new players that signed, so it was hard for everyone to mix, but that same season we won SWPL 2, so it was a good successful first year in Women’s football.
In your time at Hamilton, you won a lot of individual accolades as well as team triumphs. What did those accomplishments mean to you?
The title at Hamilton was my first trophy in Women’s football and they were my first individual trophies that weren’t youth awards. I won Player of the Year in my first year, and I had just turned 18 and I was playing first team football, so playing enough to get recognition was good and the quality in that side was good as well. At that time, more people were speaking about me (in a good way), and in the Accies team I was a regular, I was a standout because I was trying to make things happen while I was on the ball. Teams were starting to pick me out as the player to watch in the team and the social media team at Hamilton was good and kept tweeting things about me. I was more out there in a way.
You also captained the side even at a young age.
Yeah, Gill Inglis, who’s in my team at the moment, was the Accies captain while I was there, moved to Rangers in the August, and Gary said he wanted me to be the captain. He understood I was still young and there were older players in the team, but he felt I could do a job. The rest of my time at Hamilton I was captain. I always tried to lead by example, with or without the armband. I’m not a captain who shouts a lot, although I do like to talk a lot on the park, but I’m more about setting standards. Although I was one of the younger ones, I still got a lot of respect from the older ones which was good.
In your final season at Hamilton, you won promotion back to SWPL 1. Was that just a meaningful as the first title win?
Obviously, first time round when we got promoted, we came back down straight away, so that was disappointing. I always aimed to get the team back up and to do it as captain and play a big part in it felt good. At the same time though, I felt I had achieved everything I could at Hamilton. I felt I was becoming too comfy in a way, and the only way I was going improve and better myself was to move away.
You did receive offers while at Hamilton, one being Hibs. Was that a move that could have happened?
It was actually yeah. Grant Scott was the Hibs manager at the time, and he contacted Hamilton, and we started talking. About 2 weeks into talking to him, he moved to Glasgow City! So that made my mind up, thinking I’ll stay put for the moment. I was playing regular at Hamilton and enjoying playing, so it was probably best I stayed.
You ended your stay with Hamilton with over 100 appearances, so overall what was your time like at the club?
I loved it to be fair. I had a good, close group of friends. The recruitment was always good too, so every year there was new players coming in and everyone got on well. Gary and Bobby were brand new. I just felt at the time I had outgrown them in a way. Because I was playing every week, I didn’t feel like I was going to get any better. I felt I wanted to take the next step in my career. I knew that if a club like Motherwell had come in for me or another club, I would definitely speak to them. I just wanted to better myself. We won promotion in the June, and I went on holiday in the July and while I was on holiday, Gary Doctor text me saying Motherwell had come in for me. So, Paul (Brownlie) was contacting me while I was on holiday saying he wanted me to sign. I was home on the Thursday and that Friday I signed and got all my pictures taken at Fir Park.
Met Leanne (Crichton) for the first time as well. It happened pretty quickly in the end. It was somewhat easier to leave Hamilton because I was going to Motherwell, but at the same time, I was leaving some really good friends behind. They are good pals, because they supported me in my decision to leave and to try and better myself. Hamilton and Motherwell are rivals, but I don’t think it’s that big in the Women’s game yet.
You mentioned earlier about the changes that have been made since you were there last. What changes have you seen from your time as a youth player?
There is now a closeness to the Men’s side, even with Alan Burrows the Chief Executive, that was never there before. Something as simple as the strips. When I was at Motherwell in the past, we didn’t even have the current kit. We get access to facilities at Fir Park as well. We aren’t one of the teams that are professional, but Paul tries to make it as professional as possible. The detail that Paul and Leanne go into is scary! All the changes have been good to be fair.
What was it like pulling on the Motherwell shirt of the first time?
It was unreal! The first game of the season was against Glasgow City, but I got injured in training on the Friday which meant I missed 4 weeks. My first game back just happened to be against Accies. Paul threw me in straight away, but I wasn’t quite match fit, but I knew I could play against them and try and get one over my old team. Scoring my first goal was just as special. I’m not a player who gets forward too often, I just happened to make a run forward that day and Carla laid the ball to me, and I just hit it! Normally I would have looked to find another player, but I thought about just hitting it and luckily it went in! Funnily enough, my dad had been saying to me that a goal wasn’t too far away for me, but I needed to get further up the park. Twitter after that was quite mental!
Is your dad still a big influence on your career at this point?
Massive! He doesn’t miss a game. He’s got my Motherwell jersey from when I first signed with my name on the back. He’s got a big Motherwell flag with “Motherwell Women” on it that he loves to put up every game. He’s there cheering me on, no matter if it’s Edinburgh, Glasgow, anywhere, he’ll be there.
Has moving up to Motherwell and playing with better players helped your game in the way you hoped it had?
Oh definitely. Even playing with Leanne in the midfield for the last few months, she’ll always give me wee hints and tips to make my game better. Also, better people around you will make you better as well, like the standard of training is better. The coaching is more thorough, more tactical, so I’m learning that aspect of the game too.
Went I met Paul for the first time, he told me his ideas and the way he wanted to play football, like playing out from the back and keeping the ball on the deck, which suited my game. He said that me and Leanne would be big players for the team this season. Paul is a really good man manager, he’ll focus on you, giving you a random phone call asking how you are and things. Leanne, the influence she has on me and the whole team is unbelievable. For her to still be playing and still a big character, everyone can learn from her. Even the standards she sets in training, she’s always demanding more of herself and the team round about her, which can only make the team better.
You’ve captained the side on a couple of occasions now. That must be one of those achievements you were looking to do when you joined?
It’s mad. I’ve only been at Motherwell for 6 months and I’ve achieved so much already. Paul, 2 weeks before the Celtic game, said he wanted a few vice-captains to help Gill. I was picked as one with 2 other girls. The Sunday of the Celtic game, Paul phoned, and we were chatting away, and at the end of the call he said, “I’m making you captain today”, and I was taken a back by it. It felt amazing, despite the result, it was an amazing day. Recently as well against Accies, I lead the team out. That was quite special and to get the 3 points as well made even better. It’s good to know that I’m being trusted to do the job with the armband and play a big part in the team is really encouraging.
What would be a good season for you and Motherwell?
Personally, I just want to keep working hard and making sure I’m in the team each week. It’s quite a big squad here and sometimes some of the girls get left out, so I want to make sure I don’t get left out. As a team, our main goal is to push Hibs all the way for 4th place and try and be the best of the rest. Paul, a few weeks back, said that beating last years tally was the target and we’ve done with quite a few games left to play, so we could potential double last year’s points. I’d say 5th place would be good, it would be a good steppingstone for the years to come.
Closing the gap on the top 3 sides will be tough because they are professional and it shows sometimes in games against them that there is a massive difference, but recently against Hibs, I’d say there was nothing in the game. We had a few chances, a few 1v1’s that on a different day might have gone in, but then Hibs take their chance. I’d say we aren’t miles away from Hibs but the top 3, there is still a big gap.
You’ve been capped at Youth level for Scotland, do you still have hopes of making it to the full National side?
To be honest, it’s not something I really think about. I happy to keep working hard and doing my job for Motherwell, and then if that gets me recognition from the national side then I’ll be pleased. At youth level, I was playing with the likes of Erin Cuthbert, so I’ve played with people who have gone on to do really well in the game so far.
At Under 15’s, we played against Germany and that was a really hard game. Got beat 7-0 I think. Just the experience of playing in a Scotland jersey was amazing. Then in the 17’s, we went to places like Hungary, Portugal and Denmark and that same season was when I broke my ankle at Glasgow City a week before the Euro’s, so I haven’t really kicked a ball for Scotland since the Under 17’s. Who knows what might happen in the future.
Finally, after the success of the World Cup in 2019, have you seen a rise in the popularity of the game in Scotland?
Yeah, things like the BBC ALBA deal I don’t think would have happened in the past. More people are coming to the games, still not loads, but it’s definitely a start. More money has been put into the game with sponsorship deals etc coming in. It’s slowly but steadily getting there. There’s still a big difference between up here and down in England. There is a lot of money being invested down there and up here we only have 3 professional teams.
Obviously, I think every girl in the Motherwell team would love to be professional as well but that’s unlikely at the minute unless we get more money into the game. Years ago, I don’t think, even for Motherwell, having a Women’s team would have been an option for them, but that comes down to the hard work of Alan Burrows, who wants to make a name for the Motherwell side. It’s definitely paying off. Look at Hibs, they are recruiting really good players. It’s a good time to be in the game.
On the most part, the publicity has been good. There has been the odd comment slagging a player or something, but you’ll always get that I think. I feel that if some of these people came to a game, they’d realise the technical abilities of these players aren’t much different from the Men’s game. Speed and strength wise, obviously men a different, but technique wise, I’d say women are up there. Tactically, we can be as good as the men so I’d encourage anyone who hasn’t watched but made comments to come and see a game.
Thank you to Amy for taking the time to speak with us.