I was in Kirkcaldy to cover the Raith Rovers v Troon league match on Sunday 16th of September at Beveridge Park, where I witnessed one of the best goalkeeping displays I have ever seen in the women’s game. What made her performance even more fascinating was the fact she was NOT the regular goalkeeper and she was playing out of position.
The girl in question was Raith Rovers’ 37 year old player manager and defender Pauline Harley. From a distance the girl who donned the all orange keeper’s strip looked like a teenager as she made save after save, displaying great agility and nimbleness as she denied her opponents time after time.
She was finally beaten by a stunning Sam McManus free-kick on the stroke of half-time, where she may feel she could have done better but she had no chance with Sam’s overhead kick plus the two other strikes that ended up in the net behind her.
I caught up with Pauline after the match to chat about her performance after Referee David Davidson presented Pauline with the Stewart First Aid Training Player of the Match trophy.
Name: Pauline Harley
Time at Raith: I have been back around five years. This is my second stint at the club
Previous Clubs: Too many to mention but they include Boroughmuir and Dundee United
Role at club: Player Manager
SWFitba: Congratulations on being our Stewart First Aid Training Player of the Match and for entertaining us with a superb performance.
PH: Thank you, I wasn’t expecting this but I am delighted that you have chosen me as the POTM.
SWFitba: Looking back at the game through player manager’s eyes, I heard your congratulating the girls and you suggested there wasn’t four goals between the sides today:
PH: First all, let me say that Troon were the better team on the day. They were well organised, played well and deserved their victory. They have more or less the same players playing most weeks and they all train together week in week out and this was evident in their performance today. I thought two – nil would have been a more realistic result but I can’t take anything away from Troon. The wee lassie up front, Lauren Anderson caused us all sorts of problems with her pace and their ability to finish in front of goal was the main difference today.
SWFitba: I thought the first half the game was even but Troon had more scoring opportunities. Possession wise Raith matched them well, and looked confortable on the ball. Troon were jaded in the first 45 but came to life in the second period. It was a bad time to lose the first goal, on the stroke of half-time and when the second went in, the girls’ heads went down.
PH: Yes I would agree. We did really well and losing the goal when we did was harsh. This season we have had such a tough time on and off the park that to compete with a team of Troon’s standard was pleasing in itself.
We have rarely put out the same team twice this season and even training is difficult at the moment as we can’t get all the girls together at the same time. However, we are in the process of rebuilding and have a lot of talented youngsters coming up through the ranks, who will be there for us next season. It looks like we will be in the Second Division next term but when you consider the team were on the verge of folding earlier in the season, playing in any division is a bonus.
We will retain the best of our experienced players to help the youngsters gel and learn from but at the moment, it is all about survival and preparing for next year.
SWFitba: If you hadn’t been picked as POTM, who would you have given the award to:
PH: Their number 11, Lauren Anderson. She has bags of pace and ability on the ball and we struggled to cope with her at the back. She has a terrific shot and nearly broke my finger with one strike
You could see she was a step ahead of any other girl on the park today.
SWFitba: Once again, congratulations on a fantastic performance today.
PH: Many thanks. I would like to thank you on behalf of everyone connected with Raith Rovers for travelling through to be here today.
SWFitba would like to wish all at Raith every success for the future. A great bunch of girls and a real character at the helm in Pauline.