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The Clyde Choice

Updated: Dec 19, 2022

Prologue: At the end of Season 1992-93, under the management of the experienced Alex Smith, the then Hamilton-based Clyde were crowned Second Division champions. After eight years of ground-sharing at Firhill and latterly Douglas Park, a shiny new stadium in Cumbernauld would soon be the club’s permanent base; it was an optimistic time to be a Clyde supporter.

How much of the new town’s 6,000 seater stadium would Clyde be able to fill? The Clyde Choice, reproduced below in italics, was penned in July 1993 and published in a Clyde fanzine a month later. Twenty years on, the choice faced by Clyde in 1993 still seems relevant, and not just for the Bully Wee. Should football place less emphasis on being a “results business” and focus more attention on entertaining the fans?

“We want to be another Dundee United,” St. Johnstone boss John McLelland was recently quoted as saying, and everyone knew what he meant: A first class scouting system, a reputation for good coaching and a club regularly in the hunt for honours. One ingredient for a successful club was not mentioned by Mr. McLelland, and it seems to be an aspect of the game not even considered by many of his managerial colleagues: what is the level of entertainment provided by the team I put on the park?

“Is my team worth watching?” and “would I leave the house and pay to watch them?” are not phrases immediately associated with professional football managers such as the highly successful Alex Macdonald of Airdrieonians, whose prime aim, understandably, is to ensure his team continues to be competitive when it comes to amassing league points. Jim Jefferies at Brockville, on the other hand, deserved all the plaudits he received in the press and from the public last season, but this acclaim owed as much to the rarity of his approach as to the resultant refreshing play of his Falkirk team.

The Airdrie/Falkirk contrast is the essence of the Clyde choice. Already committed Bully Wee fans will recognise that a successful team needs a solid defence just as much as the new Broadwood Stadium needs firm foundations. Existing Clyde supporters may even have some empathy for the Diamonds’ approach, regarding it as being simply realistic. Potential new supporters in Cumbernauld may have a more nuanced approach. Was the match enjoyable? Is that how I want to spend my Saturday afternoons? The Jim Jefferies philosophy is much more likely to appeal to them.

Clyde officials never fail to pay public tribute to their loyal band of existing fans, but the club will only prosper if it attracts and retains additional supporters from its new catchment area. A positive impression is required from the beginning. An efficient side regularly picking up the points may satisfy the diehards, but many of the new fans will be looking for attacking play and goalmouth incidents aplenty. Retention of First Division status in Clyde’s first year back at that level may meet the needs of those deeply devoted to the club, but the Bully Wee will only get one chance to impress the many people who will be attracted to Broadwood by the unprecedented publicity the club will soon be receiving. Without fans, professional football ceases to exist. In this season’s First Division, it’s a safe bet that the Bairns’ reputation for positive play will attract more fans than the hard-to-beat Broomfielders. The haemorrhaging of Clyde’s traditional support over the last thirty years has been well documented and the club’s slow death has thankfully been averted by the Board’s initiative in making a fresh start in Cumbernauld, but such enterprise must be replicated where it most matters – on the pitch.


Clyde’s move to Broadwood was delayed until 5 February 1994. By then, they had played twenty-five of their scheduled forty-four fixtures and were lying in third bottom place. An all-ticket sell-out crowd welcomed Clyde to Cumbernauld but the Bully Wee lost 2-0 to their hitherto landlords, Hamilton Accies. Thereafter Clyde won just four more matches and crowds steadily reduced. The fact that Clyde were the Division’s second lowest scoring side probably tells its own story.

If moving to a new community in mid-season was unfortunate timing, league reconstruction to a four-division set-up in Season 1994-94 compounded Clyde’s problematic arrival in East Dunbartonshire. The imminent new-set-up meant that the bottom five clubs in the First Division would form part of the revised Second Division. Clyde finished in third bottom spot and were relegated, Falkirk finished as champions and Clyde’s new near neighbours Airdrieonians finished third.

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