Partick Thistle striker Brian Graham takes the role of first team manager for the women’s side whilst still playing for the men’s side.
In a move that has certainly raised eyebrows across women’s football, Maryhill’s Partick Thistle announced men’s first team striker, Brian Graham, as the new women’s first team manager for the upcoming season in the Scottish Women’s Premier League 2. With the 2019/20 season being called null and void after one game, it will be a massive season for the Jags as they aim to get promoted to the top flight.
The 32-year-old Glasgow born striker is well-travelled across Scottish football, having played for the likes of Hibs and Dundee United, as well as being seasoned south of the border in League 2 for Cheltenham Town. This will be the toughest and most demanding challenge Graham has faced in his football career, as he begins to adapt to the different style of the women’s game with the added pressure of his inexperience in coaching. Graham will be joined by former Rangers and Aberdeen fullback Richard Foster as his number two, with former Ayr United midfielder Ross Docherty acting as a coach.
Partick Thistle begin their SWPL2 campaign on 18 October against Glasgow Women, as they revert back to the winter league scheduling following the miserable trial of the summer scheduling which failed after one match. Graham and his staff will be looking to build on the mid-table finish of the 2018/19 season when the Jags missed out on a promotion spot. This will coincide with Partick Thistle men’s efforts to rejoin the Championship following their controversial relegation to League 1.
The appointment brings up a remarkably interesting discussion within women’s football in Scotland. After Glasgow City’s tremendous Champions League run, interest in the women’s game has greatly increased within the nation - with the added influence of Scotland’s appearance in the 2019 World Cup, which made the very respectable effort of filling the void of Scotland’s men’s 22-year absence of any international tournament. Mixing the ongoing mayhem and drama of the Scottish men’s game with the women’s game can be greatly beneficial for both. With the much-needed emphasis of diversity in the Scottish men’s game, this could be the way to make men’s football more open and accepting. At the same time, bringing in the huge crowds from the men’s league to the women’s league could do women’s football wonders in a commercial sense.
However, is the appointment of three current first team players insulting for the female players of Partick Thistle and for the rest of the league? With the majority of the players in the first team being of the same age as the male backroom staff, there must be an argument as to why these three men are capable of coming in and immediately taking the top jobs, especially without any managerial experience beforehand. Unfortunately, the idea of seeing a female in a managerial hot seat in the men’s leagues in Scotland still feels extremely far off.
Regardless of the argument whether it’s the correct decision or not, there is a huge amount of pressure on these young men to show the country they have the ability to transfer their experience to the women’s game, and potentially be the pioneers of the mixture between the men and women’s game.