It’s a somewhat unusual admission by an athlete that one of their major sporting targets is to have their name inscribed on a sword. 

But for Erin McGarrachan, it’s one of the few unfulfilled goals she has remaining. 

The 31-year-old has long been one of Scotland’s very best basketball players. 

But even she hasn’t done quite enough – yet – to see her name engraved on Caledonia Gladiators’ famous swords which were the idea of the club’s founder, Steve Timoney, and symbolise protection for the club. 

The men’s sword has the names of last year’s squad engraved upon it after their history-making exploits which saw them win the club’s first silverware for 20 years. 

But until the women replicate the men’s trophy-winning success, their sword will remain untouched. 

However, McGarrachan has every intention of having her name inscribed in history before she retires and ideally, it’ll happen sooner rather than later. 

“We’re desperate for some silverware,” the club captain says. 

“After the men won their trophy last year and their sword got engraved, Steve challenged us by reminding us our sword is still blank and it’ll only be the first women’s team to bring silverware who’ll get their names engraved on that sword so before I hang up my boots, my name is definitely going to be on there.  

“That’s absolutely the target this year – to get some silverware and get our names on that sword.” 

McGarrachan, from Cumbernauld, goes into this season, which begins for Caledonia Gladiators today, aiming to replicate her form of last season, which saw her establish herself as one of the most important players in the league. 

After a career which has included playing for US college side Houston Baptist as well as Leicester Riders and Caledonia Pride in the WBBL and Klosternauberg in Austria’s top division,McGarrachan signed for Caledonia Gladiators in early 2022 but at the time, she admitted she was somewhat unsure as to how she’d fare. 

However, throughout the course of last season, McGarrachan produced some of the best performances of her career,. 

Her form saw her called up to the GB squad earlier this summer for their Eurobasket campaign and McGarrachan is optimistic that she can continue her strong form this year in a Caledonia Gladiators squad that’s seen a number of new players join the roster. 

“I enjoyed the summer with GB and then pre-season with Gladiators started at the beginning of August so things have been busy,” she says. 

“At Gladiators this season, we only have three returners so it’s been good to get to know everyone over the past few months.  

“We’ve built the squad up this season to have more depth so that takes the pressure off me. Not that I’ll relax but it allows me to do what I do even better without having to think about other things.” 

McGarrachan and her teammates do not have the luxury of easing themselves into the season; their opening game of the campaign takes place this evening, at their newly-built home stadium in East Kilbride, against the Portuguese side, S.L. Benfica in the EuroCup Women in what will be Gladiators’ debut in European competition. 

It’s unchartered territory for the squad and that, admits McGarrachan, evokes a mixture of emotions. 

But she’s got more than enough experience to know that the only way to improve is to get stuck in and that’s exactly what she and her teammates are planning to do over this European campaign. 

“There’s nervous excitement. We’re going into the unknown but I have every confidence in the team,” she says.  

“We know it’s going to be a higher level of competition against more athletic, stronger and more experienced players but at the same time, we’ve had 11 weeks of pre-season so we’re ready. And we won’t know where we are until we try. So we’re really excited to have the opportunity to measure up against the best in Europe.” 

It’s the domestic league campaign, however, that is Caledonia Gladiators’ bread-and-butter. 

A second-placed finish in the WBBL last season means that if they want to improve this year, there’s only one place to go. 

But McGarrachan is under no illusions about the fact the task is getting more challenging each season. 

“You don’t ever want to go backwards and so having come second last year, the only place for us to go to improve is number one. So that’s what we’re pushing for,” she says.  

“But we’re absolutely not going to be complacent because the other teams in the league are getting better and have stronger rosters this season. For me, though, that's great to see because as each team grows and builds, that means the strength of the league is getting better and it means the sport as a whole is improving.” 

What’s particularly heartening about Caledonia Gladiators is their approach to equality. 

There is no indications within the club that men’s sport is valued higher than women’s sport; an ethos that’s infuriatingly rare. 

Glasgow Times: McGarrachan (third from right) is heartened by the levels of equality within the clubMcGarrachan (third from right) is heartened by the levels of equality within the club (Image: Caledonia Gladiators)

And for McGarrachan, that’s a significant attraction. 

“It’s great that we have equality with the men, that’s really important but for this club, there’s never been a divide, it’s always been about there being one club with a male and a female team,” she says. 

“I love that our club is leading the way on that front - whatever the men get, the women get and vice versa. There’s no differentiation. 

“On the revenue side, across the board, men’s sport is ahead of women’s sport but our club recognised that the only way the women are going to get on the same level as the men is if the same energy and support is given to the women’s team.  

“So all the media and marketing the men get, we get too and it’s great to be a part of a club that has an approach like that.”