“Invaluable” – Manager Debbi McCulloch describing loyal servant Claire Crosbie after the midfielder made her 131st appearance, a new Club record, in the recent 4-1 SWPL win over Celtic at Ainslie Park.
Following her career-threatening ACL injury in September 2013, the long road to recovery has been a tough journey for ‘Bing’. However, anyone who knows Claire would appreciate, with her strong will and sheer dogged determination, that it was a matter of when, not if, she made her return to a Spartans side she’s played for since its inception.
How did Claire become a Spartan? Well, the story involves two well-kent faces at the Academy. Crosbie recalls, “I always played under Walter (McGill) and Carson (Ralton) and I followed on with them and arrived at the Academy back in 2008, joining the Club when it became Spartans.”
The 28 year old wore her heart on her sleeve as she passionately described just how much being part of the Spartans Family means to her.
“I don’t think I’d want to ever join another club. The facilities, the Academy staff, Debbi and her Coaches along with the backroom team are all fantastic and I don’t think you’d get a better club in Scottish Women’s Football than Spartans. We have it really good here and I wouldn’t want to change it for the world.
“It’s looking really bright here for us and the Club is definitely on the up. I’ve seen a massive difference here even since I’ve returned from injury. The football that the girls have been playing compared to where it was seven months ago has come on leaps and bounds.”
It’s been a footballing emotional rollercoaster as one might expect over the seven seasons of Premier League combat. Was there a magic moment, a highlight perhaps that stuck out for Crosbie over period?
“I don’t think I could single out one as there’s been so many over the years”, noted the modest midfielder star, “However, this year there’s a chance of us coming 2nd in the league as we’ve had a really good second half to the season and we’re in a semi-final so hopefully the highlight for this season will be securing the silverware and the runners-up spot.
“From a personal view, I think just coming back from injury has been a massive thing for me. Football means the world to me and, hey, I still think I’ve got a good few years left in the tank yet!”
One Family, Spartans Family is the Club mantra. How did Crosbie feel being part of a club like Spartans as she made her return from injury?
“I don’t think I would have got through it if it wasn’t for everyone at the Club. I was quite fortunate that I got to see a physio once a week to help aid the recovery and I don’t think many Women’s clubs could offer that support network.”
Another part of the support was working back to fitness with fellow ACL injury victim Kirsty McLaughlin. The pair worked desperately hard to encourage each other on during what were, at times, lonely spells on that unpredictable road to recovery.
The road become reality when in August, Crosbie – and McLaughlin – made appearances from the bench up in a 2-0 win over Aberdeen.
The hard yards had been put in at training, but just how did Crosbie feel about getting back into action and testing out that knee?
“The first couple of games were difficult as I think it’s the injury was always at the back of my mind however I’m now at the stage where I don’t actually go out on to the pitch and give it any consideration. I just get out there and get on with it – and that continues on Sunday against Aberdeen where we look to get into the Scottish Cup Final and collect some silverware. “
Manager Debbi McCulloch paid tribute to a player she describes as ‘invaluable’ – and rightly so. Well done Bing from everyone at the Club.
McCulloch said, “Everyone knows that Bing has had a tough year and a lot of people may not have expected her to come back from such a serious injury, but I’ve always understood how much football defines her. She doesn’t let a lot of people know it, but it’s very important to her – she loves it – and she’s come back such a stronger player.
“I think in the middle of midfield in the 2nd half of the season Claire has definitely given us something different.
“I always talk highly of players who are loyal and Claire is certainly one of them. She’s been here since I arrived at the Club and is serious about her football. She has always had good banter around the place whilst remaining focussed on winning and doing her best for the Club.
“Players like that in your dressing room are invaluable so I’d like to congratulate Claire on her record and I hope there are many more appearances to come.”