Sadie Smith

Acclaimed singer songwriter Eddi Reader goes on a journey to discover more about her granny Sadie Smith’s remarkable football career with Rutherglen Ladies.

Broadcast on BBC ALBA in 2022.

Scotland has played a unique role in the development of women’s football with evidence of the game being played as far back at the 1700s. And despite the English FA ban on the game in 1921, which impacted hugely on Scottish women’s football too, one incredible star emerged in Scotland, playing in what would be considered one of the greatest, “world beating” sides of the interwar period. That star is Sadie Smith, the grandmother of Scottish folk singer Eddie Reader. In the 1920s, it was Sadie who roared, and to national acclaim.

Sadie played for Rutherglen Ladies, a side managed by James Kelly who played showcase fixtures in front of thousands of fans. At every turn Sadie was the standout and was regularly referred to as a star. By 1925, her nickname in the press was ‘the female Alan Morton’, her style mirroring the quick, elusive, diminutive Glasgow born left-winger who won fame with Rangers and Scotland. In 1927 Kelly took Rutherglen Ladies on a tour of Ireland, playing in Belfast, Larne, Ballymena, Dublin, Derry & Portadown. The game in Dublin, billed as Scotland v Ireland, attracted 12,000 supporters. Scotland won 8-1. While in Ireland a remarkable thing happened. Such was Sadie’s form on the tour she was signed by Linfield, a full-time men’s team.

This documentary, told through the perspective of Sadie’s granddaughter Eddie Reader, and with research support from Dr Fiona Skillen and Steve Bolton and actors playing the roles of Sadie Smith and her teammates from Rutherglen Ladies.


Writer / Producer / Director: Margot McCuaig

Filmed:  Gavin Hopkins

Editor: Kenny Park

Narrator: Iona Ballantyne