Wallace High girls receive legendary coaching boost ahead of Hampden showdown

The young women of Wallace High School will have the support of an old hand when they attempt to make history at Hampden Park tomorrow (Thursday).

The Stirling school’s under-18 footballers will face St Ninian’s High, from Giffnock, in the final of the Scottish Cup on Thursday.

It’s the first time the Scottish Schools’ Football Association have opened up the national stadium to the showpiece of the girls’ game and it will be the only school football final – boys or girls – to be hosted at Hampden this season.

Wallace High launched its School of Sport in November 2012 and now supports its pupils’ potential in football, rugby, swimming, dance and basketball.

Its coaching staff includes local football legend Jimmy Bone, an icon of the Scottish game who played as a striker for clubs including Partick Thistle, Celtic, St Mirren and Hearts – winning two caps for Scotland.

Jimmy was a member of the fabled Partick Thistle team that defeated Celtic 4-1 in the League Cup final at Hampden in 1971 and he was also assistant manager to Alex Smith when St Mirren won the Scottish Cup 1-0 against Dundee United at the national stadium in 1987.

He works closely with Wallace High’s under-18 coach, Rachel Whillans, and as a coach and mentor to the players. He will also be at Hampden at Thursday hoping to make it three-in-a-row at the famous old ground.

Jimmy said: “Girls and women’s football is here to stay and I’m incredibly proud of the job that has been done by Rachel and the players in reaching the Scottish Cup final.

“This is the opportunity of a lifetime and the Scottish Schools’ Football Association and the SFA deserve enormous credit for allowing the big game to go ahead at Hampden. It will be difficult, I know, for the girls not to get wrapped up but I’ve been telling them to play the match and not the occasion – and play to win.

“I’ve been with the School of Sport at Wallace High for almost a decade and loved every minute. What’s the point in having a knowledge of football and only keeping it to yourself? It’s a great joy to see the development of young people from areas such as Cornton and my own home village, Fallin, from S1 to S6.’’

Former footballer Jimmy Bone has been helping the team prepare
The young women of Wallace High School will have the support of an old hand when they attempt to make history at Hampden Park tomorrow (Thursday)

Wallace High are attempting to go one better than last year, when the under-15s became the first team in the 50 year history of the school to reach a Scottish Cup final, only to lose narrowly to Lasswade at Alloa.

The under-18s saw off Lasswade in the semi-final this season to set up the game against St Ninian’s after wins in previous rounds against Linlithgow, Queensferry, Carnoustie and Ross High.

Rachel Whillans, principal teacher at Wallace High’s School of Sport, took the team on a familiarisation trip to Hampden last week, where the players visited the dressing rooms and walked out the tunnel to gaze upon the pitch they hope will become their field of dreams.

She said: “The opportunity to play the final in our national stadium, in front of our incredible support, will be a once in a lifetime experience. Many of the girls went through disappointment in last year’s under-15 final, so bouncing back with such resilience and determination speaks volumes about their character.”