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Rose Reilly

Rose Reilly is the incredible story of a feminist icon, a transgressor whose tenacity and talent paved the way for women in football. We are delighted to be producing a feature-length documentary about her for BBC ALBA.

Rose Reilly was born in Stewarton, Ayrshire in 1955. She began her football career with Stewarton Boys Club, cutting her hair short at the local barbers and changing her name to Ross to blend in as instructed. At nine years old Rose launched her women’s football career, debuting with Stewarton Thistle Ladies, holding her own amongst the adults and going on to win multiple honours in a period when the SFA refused to recognise women’s football declaring that it wasn’t a ‘game for ladies’. As a teenager she proudly represented the Scottish national team, only to be perplexed to discover that she had been banned sine die along with fellow player Edna Neillis and manager Elsie Cook in 1974. By this time Rose was fuelling her ambitions to play professionally. Whilst still a teenager she sought a career abroad, playing a trial for French outfit Reims where such was the impression made she was signed at half time.

Rose continually faced obstacles throughout her career but tenacious and talented she transgressed and achieved her dreams, travelling from France to Italy where she excelled as a professional player. Against the odds – women’s football was largely discriminated against – she succeeded, winning the French title, eight Serie A titles, four Italian Cups, two Serie A Golden Boots and the World Cup, won against West Germany, scoring the second goal in a 3-1 win for the Italian national side who had adopted her and her talents following her domestic success in Italy. Rose was also named the best female footballer in the world in the same year, 1984. Meanwhile, the Scottish international ban remained steadfast.

Finally recognised in Scotland decades later, Rose was the first female footballer inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame. She was also inducted into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame and awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of the West of Scotland. She is Scotland’s most successful footballer.

Shot in Stewarton, Milan, Reggio Emilio, Jesolo and Venice, this story is an inspirational narrative that challenges patriarchal assumptions and, crucially, empowers women and girls. Rose Reilly is a Scottish feminist icon and this documentary film provides a unique insight into the culture of women’s football and solidifies Rose’s landmark place in its history.

It’s on BBC ALBA on the 2nd of June 2019 at 9pm.

28 May 2019 10:37

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