Wallace High girls lean on Stirling football legend as Hampden final beckons

The young women of Wallace High School will have the support of an old hand when they attempt to make history next week at Hampden Park.

A sunny day. A picture of a group of girls in school uniform smiling, alongside adult teachers and the Provost wearing her chain of office.
Provost Elaine Watterson joined the Wallace girls, coach Rachel Whillans, Jimmy Bone and Head Teacher Scott Pennock, to wish them all the best for their Hampden final.

The Stirling school’s under-18 footballers will face St Ninian’s High from Giffnock in the final of the Scottish Cup on Thursday, May 9 (kick-off 7pm).

It is the first time the Scottish Schools' Football Association have opened up the national stadium to the showpiece of the girls’ game and it will be the only school football final – boys or girls – to be hosted at Hampden this season.

Wallace High launched its School of Sport in November 2012 and now supports its pupils’ potential in football, rugby, swimming, dance and basketball.


Its coaching staff includes local football legend Jimmy Bone, a Godfather of the Scottish game who played as a striker for clubs including Partick Thistle, Celtic, St Mirren and Hearts, winning two caps for Scotland.

Jimmy was a member of the fabled Partick Thistle team that defeated Celtic 4-1 in the League Cup final at Hampden in 1971 and he was also assistant manager to Alex Smith when St Mirren won the Scottish Cup 1-0 against Dundee United at the national stadium in 1987.

He works closely with Wallace High’s under-18 coach, Rachel Whillans, and as a coach and mentor to the players. He will also be at Hampden at Thursday hoping to make it three-in-a-row at the famous old ground.

A picture of a girls football team. The girls are in their football kit and are photographed in front of the Wallace Monument.
The Wallace team are hoping to go one better than last season, when they lost narrowly to Lasswade High in the Scottish Cup final at Alloa.

Jimmy said: “Girls' and women’s football is here to stay and I’m incredibly proud of the job that has been done by Rachel and the players in reaching the Scottish Cup final.

“This is the opportunity of a lifetime and the Scottish Schools' Football Association and the SFA deserve enormous credit for allowing the big game to go ahead at Hampden.

“It will be difficult, I know, for the girls not to get wrapped up but I’ve been telling them to play the match and not the occasion – and play to win.

“I’ve been with the School of Sport at Wallace High for almost a decade and loved every minute. What’s the point in having a knowledge of football and only keeping it to yourself? It’s a great joy to see the development of young people from areas such as Cornton and my own home village, Fallin, from S1 to S6.

“Head Teacher Scott Pennock has created a fantastic environment for learning and the passion of the PE department under teachers such as Rachel and Colin Burke shines through. They’ve created a programme that’s second to none.”


Stirling Provost Elaine Watterson teamed up with Jimmy, head coach Rachel Whillans and the players at Wallace High to wish them all the best for the final, where they will be backed by busloads of pupils, parents, staff and friends.

Wallace High are attempting to go one better than last year, when the under-15s became the first team in the 50 year history of the school to reach a Scottish Cup final, only to lose narrowly to Lasswade at Alloa.

The under-18s saw off Lasswade in the semi-final this season to set up the game against St Ninian’s after wins in previous rounds against Linlithgow, Queensferry, Carnoustie and Ross High.

A line of girls, their arms linked, smile at the camera from the side of the Hampden football pitch, with 'Hampden' written on the seats in the stand in the background.
Coach Rachel Whillans took her team for a behind the scenes visit to Hampden this week to familiarise themselves with the National Stadium set up.

Rachel Whillans, Principal Teacher at Wallace High’s School of Sport, took the team on a familiarisation trip to Hampden earlier this week, where the players visited the dressing rooms and walked out the tunnel to gaze upon the pitch they hope will become their field of dreams.

She said: “The opportunity to play the final in our national stadium, in front of our incredible support, will be a once in a lifetime experience. Many of the girls went through disappointment in last year’s under-15 final, so bouncing back with such resilience and determination speaks volumes about their character.

“I would like to say a huge thank you to all our staff, especially Head Teacher Scott Pennock and Colin Burke, our head of PE, as well as our parents, carers and partners. Their support has been incredible, but my biggest thanks goes to the girls. It has been a pleasure to coach and be with them on this amazing road to Hampden.”


Scott Pennock, Head Teacher at Wallace High, said: “It’s a genuine privilege, as Head Teacher, to enjoy front row access across a range of sports, watching our young people working together and striving to achieve success.

“This session, an absolute highlight was the journey to see our senior girls dig deep and overcome last year’s Scottish champions, Lasswade, in the semi-final. The prize for that win is the stuff of dreams - to be the first girls to compete in a Scottish Schools Cup final at Hampden Park.

“The attitude and effort that has led to this achievement has been exemplary and, regardless of the outcome, it will be an absolute pleasure to watch the girls give their all together on such a stage. I can’t wait!”


Councillor Margaret Brisley, convener of the Children and Young People’s committee, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for the Wallace High School girls. They came so close last year and we know they can do it this time around and bring the silverware back to Stirling.

“No matter what, these young women have done themselves, their school and Stirling proud. They have created wonderful memories of teamwork and friendship that will last the rest of their lives.”