Arsenal Ladies midfielder Christie Murray is out to ensure the Flower of Scotland is represented at next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, even if the players have to borrow a certain something from host nation Canada.
After playing for Glasgow City against Arsenal in the Champions League last 16, ex-Celtic player Christie was signed by the Gunners at the beginning of this year. It has been a period of much change at the club in recent times, with players departing and others coming in, and manager Shelley Kerr deciding to leave her position in June after 16 months.
The side are attempting a charge up the FA Women’s Super League after a slow start and 24-year-old midfielder Christie wants to help them do just that. On the international scene, she and her Scotland counterparts are approaching the crunch time of their qualifying campaign for the 2015 World Cup.
The Gunners’ number 16 is currently with the national team as they build up to this Sunday’s home friendly with Wales at Dumfries’ Palmerston Park. It is the last match before Anna Signeul leads the Scots into the final two group games, at home to the Faroe Islands (September 13th) and away to Sweden (September 17th).
Scotland head the group on goals scored at present but Sweden have a game in hand in 2nd place. The group winners will qualify for the World Cup while the four runners-up with the best record will go into the play-offs.
On June 19th, Scotland beat Northern Ireland 2-0 in Belfast with goals coming from Kim Little and Jane Ross. Christie came on for Suzanne Lappin and besides her work in the midfield she has a role with the team’s music before games. On this occasion, it was the Turbine Potsdam forward in the squad who hit the mark with her collection.
“I bring the speakers with the Scotland team but we kind of all like similar music and we like sharing it so we all chip in,” Christie said. “The last game, against Northern Ireland, my roomie Lisa Evans put her iPod on and it was just random but the whole team was singing.
“It was really funny and it got us all in good spirits and really up for the game.”
Since her debut in March 2010, Christie has gone on to win 29 caps, scoring twice, and like her teammates she shares that ambition of reaching a major tournament. As with each interview on here, she was asked which of her fellow players she would record a cover of a song with, and it brought her back to the Northern Ireland game.
The World Cup begins in Edmonton next June and it just so happens that it was a Canadian singer who got the Scots’ togetherness in full swing last time out. Christie decided to dedicate her answer to that scenario.
“That’s a hard one! I would probably say the Scotland girls (to record a cover version with) because we were singing our hearts out in the changing room to Avril Lavigne ‘Complicated’ before the last game.”
During the recent men’s World Cup in Brazil, the Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha hosted multiple games, including the third place play-off as the Netherlands beat the hosts 3-0. This was also the venue as Christie and her Scotland teammates took part in the International Tournament of Brasília in the capital at the end of 2013.
Christie netted in the 4-3 defeat to Chile, and Brazil and Canada also participated in the competition. Scotland finished 4th but it was a fantastic experience for Christie and she has a reminder of it every time she hears one track in particular.
“One song I really like is Duke Dumont ‘I Got U’; it’s summery and it’s got a good beat. It reminds me of when we were in Brazil last year around Christmas time so we heard it back then, before it came out.”
In these interviews, it never seems to go too long without Arsenal and England defender Alex Scott coming into the conversation. The right-back is one of the senior figures for club and country and her input includes being the team DJ.
The music lover featured on here in her own interview back in February and Christie is on board with the selection on her changing room playlist.
“Yeah, Alex is the DJ. She has a good mix and always has new songs.
“I like loads of different ones to be honest; I think it depends on your mood. At the moment, I think Ed Sheeran’s album is great and I’m into Sam Smith, Duke Dumont, J. Cole, Kanye West, Adele, so all sorts.”
When Shelley Kerr (another music/football interviewee on here last year) departed Arsenal two months ago, she went out on a high as the Gunners won a record 13th FA Women’s Cup by beating Everton. In the league, it was a tricky start for the 2011 and 2012 FA WSL winners as they had to wait until their fifth game to get into the win column, defeating holders Liverpool 1-0.
John Bayer is in interim charge of the team and they are 5th in the table at present, having played eight games. Christie once scored past Arsenal teammate Emma Byrne while playing for Scotland against Ireland and the chance to work with such talents on a daily basis has suited her down to the ground so far.
“I’m really enjoying it. There’s so many quality players like Kelly Smith, Alex Scott, Yanks (Rachel Yankey), and the younger ones like Jordan Nobbs, so how can you not?
“It’s a good group of girls and we try to do different things, we’re going go-karting today actually.”
That go-karting trip featured on Alex Scott’s ‘#scottiecam’ video series and it was defender Emma Mitchell who took first place on the track! She is currently with Christie as the Scotland squad prepare for their game with Wales and midfielder Caroline Weir is another from the north of the border in the Arsenal ranks.
The majority of the squad is taken up by British and Irish players but the international names include World Cup-winning Japanese duo Shinobu Ohno and Yukari Kinga. Their footballing prowess speaks for itself, but how do they respond to the Scottish accents on display?
“Oh they find it hard!” Christie said. “I’m from near Glasgow but Emma’s from Fife so the accent is really different.
“It can be funny when someone comes away with a Scottish word they’ve never heard before!”
In addition to their league efforts, Arsenal are going for their fourth consecutive FA WSL Continental Cup and will face Notts County in the semi-final on September 7th. Off the field, it is not the first time Christie has had an extended stay away from Scotland. At 16, and after being scouted, she went to the U.S. where she spent a year playing for Carson-Newman College’s Lady Eagles team in Tennessee.
With that experience behind her, and the rest of it from her career to date, has she been finding any aspects of living in London tough?
“I actually wouldn’t say I have; I feel quite settled. The girls have been great with helping me to get used to where I’m going and my mum and dad come down to the odd game as well.”
As well as playing in the Champions League, Christie enjoyed league and cup success in her three years with Glasgow City. One of her teammates from the club, an Ireland international forward and ex-Arsenal and Liverpool player, used to bring the changing room to life.
Christie mentioned the 24-year-old when asked if she has ever had to sing in front of those on her team in her career so far.
“Oh no, I genuinely couldn’t, that’s one of my worst nightmares! I’ve never actually experienced it where a player has been made to sing when they’ve joined but Ruesha Littlejohn at Glasgow would just do freestyle dancing.
“She used to have everyone in stitches before the game with her dance moves.”
The highs of representing Scotland, travelling to places like Brazil, and playing in the FA WSL and Champions League have been feats to savour for Christie. However, she has also had a taste of the other side of the game, spending around four months out of action with a knee injury for example.
With that in mind, does Christie feel the first few years of her career have taught her anything especially worthwhile, in a wider sense?
“That’s a deep question! It’s definitely been the injury side and finding that you can get through it.
“I’ve been pretty happy with the experiences and travel I’ve had and I feel privileged. If you work hard you’ll get the benefits from that.”
A sports studies graduate from the University of Stirling, Christie has done her best to take advantage of a little bit of fairly welcome downtime in recent weeks. She explains some more of how her hours away from playing and training are spent.
“Just kind of recovering really; it’s been nice to sit and watch the World Cup and Wimbledon and I like going for a coffee. I’ve finished my degree in Scotland and I do personal training.”
Before we wrapped up the conversation, Christie was the latest player to put forward her fantasy 5-a-side line-up. Each player on the site is asked to put themselves into the team and to elect four of the best they have ever worked alongside to make up the side.
It is perhaps little surprise that an ex-Arsenal midfielder who has just set a new record for National Women’s Soccer League goals in a season (14) makes the team. The Seattle Reign and Scotland player is the second name Christie chooses in a Gunners-dominated selection. Over to you, Christie!
“I’d definitely have Kelly Smith in there – she’s world-class. I’ll just watch her in training, she’s so calm on the ball and she just goes about her business.
“In midfield, Kim Little – a really nice person and humble too. In terms of football, she’s class and you’ve seen how well she’s done in America, she’s shining.
“A defender, Emma Mitchell – she’s actually mad. She’s so funny and says exactly what’s on her mind.
“She’s also strong, fast and great on the ball.
“In goal, Emma Byrne, big Emma! We’ve got two good goalkeepers at Arsenal and I could pick Siobhan (Chamberlain) too as they’re both quality.
“Emma’s experienced and so confident as well.”
Follow me on Twitter: @chris_brookes
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