Unsung Heroes: Leanne Crichton


Shelley Kerr doesn’t hide from the media and to a certain extent threw herself in front of bullets to protect her players throughout the World Cup.

Despite that, certain players could not avoid the limelight with Erin Cuthbert facing the media before and bravely after the 3-3 draw with Argentina.

A German TV crew asked me to point out Cuthbert, Kim Little and Rachel Corsie to their photographer at a training session in Nice.

However of the many players who grew, and perhaps outperformed expectations, in France, arguably none stood out more but beneath the radar that defensive midfielder Leanne Crichton in the Argentina game.

The 31-year-old plays her club football for Glasgow City and therefore was not sought out by the English media prior to the two nations meeting in Nice on June 9, unlike her teammates who play in the WSL.

Having not been selected for the two lost games, she played the full game against Argentina where she covered large amounts of territory trying to shut down a surprisingly potent offence for a side that had defended obdurately for the first 180 minutes of their World Cup.

Obviously, the nature of Scotland’s elimination superseded any other news agenda when Crichton spoke in the immediate aftermath of the final whistle:

“I’m feeling just really disappointed and probably a lot of confusion as well because I don’t understand how we’ve went from almost seeing the game out and the decisions have just unfolded in front of us.

“It’s honestly total confusion even with the substitution. Take away the VAR, I don’t know how the referee hasn’t noticed that there’s still a substitution in process when they allowed play to go on when the ball comes in and the penalty is awarded.

“I think not only do we need to go away and look at how we’ve drawn this game. I think the referees need to go away and look at how they’ve managed to lose control of such a huge game in a huge moment in football and they’ve managed to make those decisions tonight because for me there’s no excuse for that.

For me, the referee lost total control of the match in the last few minutes and I don’t think she knew the time that was to be added on.

“That’s what you call dealing with pressure and you ask us as players to deal with that pressure in that moment and contain our emotions and I feel that tonight the referee was the only person on the pitch that was unable to do that and it was at the most vital moments in the game and we’re stood here at the end of this result.”

That analysis seemed fair enough to all who witnessed the events in Paris but Crichton’s disappointment did not prevent her realising the need for Scotland to look deeply at their own contribution to losing a 3-0 lead, as well as the wider implications for women’s international football.

“Yeah, I think we need to take responsibility for probably allowing ourselves to become embroiled in that, as well as the effect on women’s football for other sides.

“I think the difficulty comes when you can’t speak to the referee and the referee doesn’t choose to speak to you. There’s a lot of discussions happening in the referee’s ear. I don’t know if that affects how she’s able to control the match and whether that truly becomes her control but world football needs to go away and look at how decisions like this are going to cost teams like Scotland.

“Even in the France game the other night it happened as well and honestly, the game should be moving in a better direction and I’m stood here tonight feeling like we’ve taken a couple of steps back.”

Looking back at the journey, Crichton wasn’t yet ready to come to firm conclusions about what had been learned. But she knew she would:

“No, I don’t think it will sink in yet. We’ve got a strong group of players who have worked really hard to get to where we are.

“Maybe it’s a learning curve for us it’s the first time we’ve been at a World Cup and perhaps that’s the decisions that you have to deal with but in my opinion, you shouldn’t have to deal with that.

“We can be proud of the performance that we’ve put in. We’ll certainly go away and look at the errors that probably cost us a couple of goals that allowed Argentina and credit to them as well because they fought very hard.

Indeed, she finished with time and thought to give due credit to the opponents who had just broken Scottish hearts:

“Both teams had to go for it tonight, had to win the match and there’s not many teams in world football that would have came back the way Argentina did so credit to them as opponents.

“I’m sure they’re disappointed with the time that’s not been added on at the end of the match as well because they would have probably felt they could have went on and got the three points that perhaps would have changed their tournament as well.”


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