Elsie Cook recognised for contribution to women’s football

Kilmarnock Women FC players Laura McLaughlin and Kirsty Munro joined their manager, Jim Chapman, to celebrate Elsie Cook’s outstanding contribution to women’s football at a meeting of Council this afternoon.

Elsie has devoted much of her life to battling for the rights and respect that women’s football has earned in the present day. After falling in love with the sport in 1960 as a 13-year-old who had just witnessed her first match at Rugby Park, Elsie made it her life mission to grow opportunities for girls and women of all ages.

At a time when women were banned from playing football in Scotland after the sport was ‘deemed unsuitable for females’, she became a real trailblazer. Elsie worked tirelessly to reverse the ban, which was eventually lifted in 1974, and subsequently helped to found the Scottish Women’s Football Association in 1972, in addition to organising the first official international women’s football game for the Scotland National Team.

In 1974, Elsie retired as Secretary of the Scottish Women’s FA and became manager of the national side. After a short stint in charge, she decided to dedicate her time to developing opportunities for girls within the game, and played a key role in encouraging participation around Ayrshire in particular.

At the reception, Depute Provost Claire Leitch presented Elsie with flowers and an Edinburgh crystal bowl, before listening to stories about meeting Pele – alongside the Brazil men’s national squad – and discussing how she got a call from Jock Stein who asked the women’s team to provide pre-match entertainment for a European Cup tie.

Laura McLaughlin, captain of Kilmarnock Women FC, commented: “As a club, we were honoured to have the opportunity to celebrate Elsie’s magnificent contribution to our sport, not only within our local community, but across the global landscape of the women’s game.

“Pioneers like Elsie have given myself, my teammates and future players the right to play the game that we love: that is a legacy that will never be forgotten.”