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For many years the “Founded 1878” part of the official Clyde FC badge annoyed me because I knew it was wrong. As a former Thirds supporter I was aware that the Hi-Hi had played Clyde in a Scottish Cup tie in 1877 and I had visited the Mitchell Library in Glasgow to obtain a photocopy of a near impossible-to-read match report but there was no dispute, Clyde were playing football before 1878.

I had raised this matter with Clyde a couple of times over the years but I really hadn’t pushed it.  In August 1998 I advised the then Clyde Secretary John Taylor, now Chairman of course, that I had submitted a short article to the Scottish Football Historian magazine, which was subsequently included in the Winter 1998/No. 68 issue. Here’s the article.


Clyde double badge with red edging.jpg

As my wife always says, lets start with a list. Most records indicate that the 15 oldest clubs in Scotland are as follows:

1. Queen’s Park 1867

2. Kilmarnock 1869

3. Stranraer 1870

4. Dumbarton 1872

5. Rangers 1873

6. Greenock Morton 1874

7. Hamilton Academical 1874

8. Heart of Midlothian 1874

9. Hibernian 1875

10. Partick Thistle 1876

11. Falkirk 1876

12. St Mirren 1876

13. Airdrieonians 1878

14. Arbroath 1878

15. CLYDE 1878


1874, 1876 and 1878 were the most “productive” years in the history of Scottish Football, in terms of longevity, with three clubs founded in each of these years but there is some doubt about 1878 and that doubt centres on the accuracy of the Clyde date.


All reference books show the Clyde founding date to be 1878 and it’s difficult to argue with this when the Clyde badge, with a ship depicting the historic links with Rutherglen, states proudly “CLYDE FC FOUNDED 1878”. However, in the book “Clyde FC - The Shawfield Story” published in 1986 to mark the end of the club’s association with Shawfield Stadium, the opening sentence states “Clyde Football Club moved from Barrowfield, home since the club’s inception in 1877...”


Further doubt about the accuracy of 1878 comes in the first chapter in the Club’s excellent Centenary Year Brochure, published not surprisingly in 1978, The chapter is entitled “The First Phase 1877-1913” (1877!) and contains the following:

“William Dick, Honorary Secretary of the Scottish Football Association rose to inform the representatives that since the last General Meeting of the Association the membership had increased from 68 clubs in season 1876/77 to 91 clubs at the start of  season 1877/78. In the Glasgow and Suburbs division there were eight new clubs, One of them appeared thus: 

CLYDE:- Founded 1877; Membership 50; Grounds (Private), Barrowfield Park, on the banks of the Clyde; ten minutes from Bridgeton Cross; Club House on grounds; Colours, White and Blue. Hon. Secretary, John D Graham, 24 Monteith Row.


A third source which suggests the Clyde date is wrong is no less an authority than the late John Rafferty who, in his book “One Hundred Years of Scottish Football”, states that ”After 10 years of organised football the SFA took stock. Of the 133 clubs in membership then,  nineteen were still active in the Scottish League at the end of 100 years. They were listed thus in the early SFA records:

Clyde, formed 1877. Ground, Barrowfield Park, Bridgeton, five minutes from Bridgeton Cross. Colours, white.: 


Two conclusions are drawn from the separate SFA entries. The first is geographical as  Barrowfield Park and Bridgeton Cross appear to be moving closer together! More seriously,  both sets of details appear to confirm that Clyde FC were in fact uniquely founded in 1877 and this makes them Scotland’s 13th oldest club. The club could now be on the verge of a merchandising boom!

Post script
I’m delighted say that Clyde Football Club did acknowledge the date change, delighted because some clubs refuse to change their founding date even when presented with irrefutable evidence!

Not long after the date-change was announced, I got a call at home from an extremely irate gentleman. I assume he must have got my telephone number from the club. Anyway, he was ranting and raving, lengthening every sentence with a generous addition of expletives. He told me that I was an effing idiot – and asked me “why couldn’t you just keep your big trap shut?”  Eventually I got a word in edgeways and asked him what the problem was, just what had I done? “It’s the Clyde date of course”, he blurted out as if I was a mind-reader. I still couldn’t get it and I asked how that affected him. ”I spent a lot of money,” he said, “getting the Clyde badge tattooed on my arm, and now I have the wrong f______ date” – and he hung up!

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