“I remember thinking that’s something special,” Kelly Clark

Yesterday The Celtic Star was invited along to Hampden Park for the pre-match media conferences ahead of tomorrow lunchtime’s Women’s Scottish Cup semi-final between Celtic and theRangers…

We spoke to both the Celtic FC Women Manager Elena Sadiku and also her captain Kelly Clark. We covered Elena’s interview alongside some thoughts on our day at Hampden, plus some thoughts on theRangers media conference which is well worth checking out too. No words…

Meanwhile here’s everything that Elena Sadiku had to say at Hampden yesterday afternoon…

READ THIS…Women’s Scottish Cup: “I’m very calm because I am so confident in the players,” Elena Sadiku

Caught up? Okay let’s move onto what the inspirational, intelligent and level headed Celtic FC Women captain Kelly Clark had to say at Hampden. Her answers to The Celtic Star about her favourite memories in her playing career and in particular the last two Scottish Cup finals against Glasgow City at Tynecastle in 2022 and theRangers in the 2023 final – both were memorable days in the Celtic story.  Here’s everything that Kelly Clark had to say…

Q: Kelly, how does games against (the)Rangers differ from games against the other teams?

Kelly Clark: “The biggest difference is externally probably. Internally it’s the exact same. We prepare the exact same, nothing changes in training. It’s a massive fixture in world football in the men’s side and you see the fan interest in it in the women’s side as well. It’s cared about a bit more in general, but other that the fact than that it’s two really good teams and it’s always really competitive.”

Kelly Clark during the press conference ahead of the weekend’s Scottish Gas Scottish Cup Semi Final. theRangers vs Celtic at Hampden.

Q: Has it changed over the years that you have been playing?

Kelly Clark: “It’s definitely changed in the last couple of years, yes. I think it’s because women’s football has grown in the last couple of years, so the external interest in it has grown massively. I think that three or four years ago, if we’d been beaten by (the)Rangers then within three or four hours it would have been forgotten about. Now there’s social media interest for days after it, and it’s on multiple different news outlets (Including The Celtic Star) . So internally it’s exactly the same, it’s another game of football against a top side, extremely there’s a lot more.”

Q: How do you cope with that added pressure that comes with these games?

Kelly Clark: “Look to your senior players. We’ve got to try to be calm and ignore the noise on the outside. We are very focused and together as a group just now. So we’ll look to each other to make sure that we are in the right mindset for it and that we can deal with the external noise.”

Q: Kelly, just how big was the draw against (the)Rangers at Ibrox earlier in the season (18 February)? It just seemed to be a pivotal moment in changing the belief and mentality in the squad?

Kelly Clark: “I think it’s momentum more than anything else. You know that everyone had been speaking about an unbeaten season (for theRangers) and I know that we didn’t beat them that day but it was the first signs that a lot could happen. Internally it wasn’t just the result, it was a massive performance for us. We felt that we played really well that day. We thought that we could have taken the three points. We missed chances at 0-0 and 1-0 (to Celtic) so we were quite happy to walk away with a point because I don’t think that many people expected us to do it. But the biggest thing for us on the day was how well we’d actually played. It showed us the new baseline and if you view it from that point we were only going to get better and we’ve doe that.”

Q: Kelly, looking back to the last time the teams met here at Hampden, in the final last year. It was a dominant Celtic performance. How does that game rank in your all-time career highlights?

Kelly Clark: “It’s up there. It really is up there It was the first time that the final was here (at Hampden), the crowd (of over 10,000) was great and it was a nice sunny day and like you said, we played really well that day as well. We were really proud of our performance and the fact that we put that performance on only a week after what happened in the league last year, was a real testament to the group of players that we had. So it’s definitely up there. Whether it’s the top of the top is hard because the year before at Tynecastle we were down to ten men after 25 minutes or something. We went all the way through extra-time and won it, so yes, last year was massive but I feel bad ruling out my first cup. I feel bad ruling out that Tynecastle game which was our first Scottish Cup where the situation on the day made that day really special too.

Q: There was moment in that game at Tynecastle when the Celtic fans singing ‘Watching Glasgow Celtic putting on a show’ and the players really got lifted by that going into extra-time with the team having been down to ten players for quite a long time. Was that a turning point between the support and the team?

Kelly Clark: “Yes. I think that the turn-out was brilliant. We spoke about it at the time with two Glasgow teams (Celtic and Glasgow City) playing through there and wondering what the crowd would be like. Tynecastle was a pretty perfect stadium for it on the day, because that main stand was pretty full, it’s really close to the pitch and the Celtic fans were really, really loud. I don’t know if it came from a chant but it showed that they started believing. I remember us looking at each other and thinking that’s something special, we need to do something here and they probably helped us find the energy. it had been a long season and we’d gone down to ten men early so they definitely played their part that day.”

Q: What would it mean to you to be our 3IAR Scottish Cup captain, lifting the trophy?

Kelly Clark: “You play football to win games and if you win every game you win trophies, so it is everything. It means we have played well throughout the entire cup run and it can come back to the Celtic Park boardroom for another year. But we’ll take one game at a time.”

Q: Kelly, would you see yourselves as slight favourites for this game given your momentum and form in the league recently?

Kelly Clark: “No. I think that most people looking at it would say that they have no idea what is going to happen. Everyone acknowledges that it is a really close match-up and whoever plays well on the day will win. I don’t think that you can get away with a bad performance because the other side will capitalise on mistakes. We are both top sides.”

Q: Does that make it potentially a nervy encounter?

Kelly Clark: “Nerve is probably not that right word.There is anticipation, it’s exciting and it’s just how you deal with it. Maybe being nervous and being excited are very similar emotions and you need to make sure that you use it in the right way and not in the wrong way. So I am sure that the team will be in the right head-space come kick-off.

Q: You talked about the fans being here at the National stadium. How special is it for you to play here and what role can the fans play in getting you through to the final, again here at Hampden?

Kelly Clark: “Playing at Hampden is special, when as a kid you watched Scotland playing at Hampden, the men’s finals are always at Hampden so it was massive for us bringing it here last year. It’s an honour anytime you come to the stadium. It’s the home of football in Scotland, so anytime you walk through the doors, even as a fan on Saturday, it’s a special place to come to play football. It means you are here for a big occasion or you are here to represent your country. All the fans talk about it, especially the Celtic and (the)Rangers fans. There’s so much history between the clubs. It’s the end of the season, players are beginning to get tired but the fans are there scream and roaring you on.

Q: Kelly how important do you think this game is in terms of the momentum in the league and the psychology around the fixture?

Kelly Clark: “I genuinely think that whatever way it goes, it doesn’t really matter. You could say if we win that we’ll be going into the games in the league saying ‘we’ve got this’ and if you lose the chat is ‘bounce right back’ and ‘make sure it doesn’t happen again’. IU could say ‘it will do us the world of good’, if we win and I could say the same if we lose, because all it would do is give us more energy for the last five games of the season.

Q: Does going for 3IAR in the Scottish Cup increase the pressure?

Kelly Clark: “Does it increase the pressure? Probably because we are the holders but pressure comes with this fixture no matter what the situation. If it’s the first first game of the season that there’s still 30 to play with another three against (the)Rangers, there’s still pressure in the fixture. It’s something people care about. They say the league will be decided on these fixtures so I think if it’s the semi-final, final or a league fixture it’s the exact same pressure.”

Q: Is there any added determination to with this trophy having missed out on the Sky Sports Cup?

Kelly Clark: “You want to win every game when you play for Celtic. The expectation is that you’ll win every game and if you win games the outcome is that you can have silverware at the end of the season, so I just think that we have to be 100% focused on the job in hand when it comes.”


CELTIC FC WOMEN v theRANGERS – WOMEN’S SCOTTISH CUP SEMI-FINAL, Hampden Park on Saturday 27 April. Kick-off 12.15pm – Tickets are priced at £10 for adults and just £5 for concessions and you can order directly from the Scottish FA here. You can use the App and get the tickets send directly to your phone.

Supporters will be accommodated inside the main stand area with the Celtic support at the traditional Celtic End of the South Stand as you would expect.


Here’s the Hearts manager explains why she thinks this will be Celtic’s year…

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor David Faulds has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

Comments are closed.