Last month, Hibernian Ladies were dealt a huge blow to their SWPL campaign when the experienced goalkeeper Shannon Lynn swapped amateur life in the Scottish game for the professional game down in England, with Chelsea Ladies.
Commenting on her move south, Lynn said: “It was a bit of a shock to me at first, but Chelsea needed a goalkeeper and I was available to make the move. Hibs were not happy to be losing their goalkeeper after such a strong start to the season, but Hibs and I have gained an incredible relationship throughout the years of being at the club and I am so grateful for that.”
Lynn was snapped up by the Women’s Super League side following an injury to Carly Telford and Nicky Davies being posted to Oman with the RAF, leaving only Jess Myers as the only keeper at the club.
She made her Chelsea debut in the 4-0 win over Doncaster, a game that she was pleased with from her own point of view. She added: “The game was overwhelming but it went well. I felt the team played really well and scoring four goals and keeping a clean sheet in any game is a pretty good feeling.”
Lynn is just another in a long line of Scottish female football players who have made the switch to the professional game as their stock rise. Sadly, with individual success there always has to be a loss and on this occasion it was Willie Kirk’s Hibernian side who paid the price.
Speaking exclusively to Scotzine, Hibs head coach Willie Kirk was disappointed to lose an invaluable member of his squad but praised Lynn for what she brought to the club over the years, he said: “Naturally, losing an experienced Scotland player is a blow to the club. Especially this season, when the squad is already very young.
“First and foremost, she is a fantastic goalkeeper. But there are many other things that Shannon brought to the table. She is a terrific trainer and brings a very positive mentality to the group, by her actions and encouragement. Her experience has been invaluable and this year especially, she has been aware of that more than ever and used it very well in helping to nurture the young players that we have in the squad, especially the young goalkeepers.”
Lynn praised the young keepers who will now battle it out for the coveted number one jersey, she added: “Hibs have such incredible young goalkeepers at the club, that I have had the honour of helping progress and we are all very confident in. This has now given them such a great opportunity to thrive.”
Having spoken to a number of the head coaches in the Scottish game over the course of the past few seasons, many of them grow frustrated that they can lose their best players to fellow Scottish clubs or even professional sides abroad for no financial remuneration and Kirk is no different. With Lynn’s departure they lost not only one of their top players but also their investment with no return.
Kirk continued: “We have received no compensation from Chelsea [for Lynn]. [But] I would hope that they will be open to a friendly and we will be contacting them soon to discuss the possibility.”
The Canadian-born keeper signed for Hibernian in 2009, following spells at Mastodons, Fort Wayne Fever and FC Indiana. On her move to Hibs, she commented: “I wanted to experience playing football somewhere else. The opportunity to come to Scotland came up so I took it with an open-mind. Shortly after being here I applied for my British citizenship and six weeks after that, I haven’t looked back.”
A year later, Lynn made her Scotland debut, but it was only in 2011 when she made her first start in a 2-0 win over England in the Cyprus Cup, which was Scotland’s first win over the English in 34 years.
Despite her talent and capability between the sticks, her Scotland international career has been limited in part due to the form and stature of the Scots keeper Gemma Fay who has been a stalwart for Anna Signeul’s side making around 150 caps.
On her team-mate and competition for the Scotland number one jersey, Lynn said: “Gemma Fay is an incredibly experienced and well-rounded goalkeeper. It is an honour to be competing with someone who has been so committed to this sport for so long. We both learn from each other and I believe this has made us both better goalkeepers.”
Scotland were so close to qualifying for the UEFA Women’s EURO Championships 2013 in Sweden for the first time ever. They came second to an impressive French side in their qualifying group, which saw the Scots enter the playoffs where they were drawn against Spain. In the first leg at Hampden Park, they drew 1-1 and travelled to La Ciudad del Fútbol, Las Rozas for the second leg where they lost 3-2 after extra time – with Spain’s third goal scored with the last kick of the game.
On that defeat and ultimately failure to qualify, the Chelsea keeper was philosophical as well as disappointed, she added: “We were all obviously completely gutted to not have qualified for EURO 2013. After so much hard work and some really great results we believed this was our time. Instead, we did not make it.
“In football, there are going to be those euphoric wins and sometimes those devastating losses. Through both experiences, you need to learn. I believe that pain, leads to strength and I think that from this experience, we will just continue to work harder and get even better.”
The 27-year-old believes that Scotland can still qualify for a major tournament, with the World Cup in 2015 which will be hosted in her country of birth, Canada. When asked if Scotland can qualify, she said: “Yes I do and it being in Canada would be a little bit extra special.”
Even though Scotland have eight players now playing professionally across Europe, Lynn believes that it doesn’t matter where her team mates play as they have what it takes to make Canada in two years time. She added: “No matter where anyone is playing their club football, the squad involved in the National team has the complete ability to qualify for the World Cup in 2015.”
Despite, leaving Hibs the night before a game, Lynn has intimated that she would love to return to the Edinburgh side in the future. She is currently doing what Julie Fleeting did when the Kilwinning striker was playing for Arsenal, as she trains with Hibs during the week and travels down for games at the weekend.
Hibs head coach Willie Kirk, was still unsure with what will happen with Lynn but would be delighted to have her back, he said: “We will need to wait and see what the future holds for Shannon with Chelsea. She is still training with us and only travelling down for games. That will continue to happen until the mid-season break. After that all parties will sit down and see where it is going to go from there. If there was a possibility of her returning to Hibernian, of course I would be delighted to have her back. She will face a great fight for her old place though, as the young goalkeepers are doing fantastic.”