The twenty or so years following WWII were the most competitive Scottish football has ever seen. League titles came the way of Aberdeen, Dundee, Kilmarnock, Hearts and Hibs. For Clyde, especially in the 1950's, there was never a dull moment. Clyde were either riding high in the League and homing in on another Scottish Cup, or battling relegation and then pulverising the lower tier of football.
Clyde showed steady League form just after the War and once again reached the Scottish Cup final in 1948-49. This was only the fourth occasion the Cup had been played since Clyde won it in 1939 and Rangers awaited them at Hampden. As 108,000 fans gathered it wasn't Clyde's day as a crushing 4-1 defeat ensued with Peter Galletly scoring Clyde's consolation goal.
The 1950's began in poor fashion as relegation called in season 1950-51. Typically Clyde won Division B the very next season to regain top-flight status. The same pattern was to be repeated in 1955-56 and 1956-57. Each occasion saw Clyde bounce back to very strong finishes in Division A. The mystery was how relegation came about in the first place with teams containing current Scottish internationalists?
In keeping with the times Shawfield introduced floodlighting in March 1954. Huddersfield Town who were riding high in the English League provided the opposition. The guests didn't read the script and left with a 3-2 victory.
Cup success came readily in the 1950's. Clyde won the Cup in 1954-55 and 1957-58 and were beaten semi-finalists in 1955-56 and 1959-60. League Cup semi-finals were also reached in 1956-57 and 1957-58 but on each occasion Celtic put a halt on Clyde's ambition. There are not many teams, outwit the Old Firm, who can boast that level of consistency.
Clyde's 1954-55 success started upon their entry at the 5th Round stage and a 3-0 defeat of Albion Rovers. Further home victories over Raith Rovers (3-1) and Falkirk (5-0) saw Clyde enter the semi-final with Aberdeen in a confident mood. At Easter Road they drew 2-2 and only a solitary goal in the replay put Clyde into the final once again.
Over 96000 watched the Hampden final with Celtic on 23rd April 1955 with the Parkhead men installed as firm favourites. This game was also the first to be televised live. Clyde, without their bustling forward, Billy McPhail lined up:- Hewkins, Murphy & Haddock; Granville, Anderson & Laing; Divers & Robertson; Hill; Brown & Ring. In a scrappy game Celtic took the lead through Walsh and looked like securing victory until three minutes from time. Clyde won a corner kick and Archie Robertson steadied himself to take it. His kick swung right under the bar and beyond the grasp of Celtic's Bonnar. Clyde had saved the day.
The replay in front of over 68000 was a much better affair with more goalmouth action. Celtic had decided to tinker with their line up while Clyde stuck firmly to the one that had snatched a draw. Tommy Ring's second half strike was enough to secure the Cup for the second time.
Only three years later on April 26th 1958 Clyde were back at Hampden again to face a powerful Hibs team. Since winning the Cup in 1955 Clyde had been relegated and the team recast. Clyde lined up:- McCulloch, Murphy & Haddock; Walters, Finlay & Clinton; Herd & Currie; Coyle; Robertson & Ring. A single goal was enough to win the Cup for the third time in front of 94000 fans. In poor weather Robertson made space in the box and Coyle's shot was deflected past the keeper.
However enjoyable the Cup wins were, Clyde's League form continued to fluctuate wildly. As the 1960's began Clyde were relegated once again and the yo-yo existence was getting ridiculous. Champions of Division 2 in 1961-62 they went back down the very next season - and straight back up the very next. At last Clyde gained some stability leading to a 3rd place finish behind the Old Firm in 1966-67 and another Scottish Cup semi-final appearance. Competing as a largely part-time team, Clyde produced a wonderful season of football that has marked the high tide in the club's fortunes to date. A further stab at glory saw Clyde reach the League Cup semi-final in 1968-69 only to be squeezed out once again by Celtic.
Despite Clyde's highly successful 1966-67 season, European football was denied. The Fairs' Cup had a rule that stipulated only one team from each city could enter. Rangers had that position and Clyde were left thinking what might have been.
As the sixties were coming to a close, Clyde were competing quite comfortably in the top flight. However on the terraces it was a different story. Glasgow's slum clearance programme was hitting attendances hard. Large swathes of housing in the Bridgeton, Dalmarnock, Gorbals, Oatlands and Rutherglen were being demolished with the inhabitants decanted away to other parts of the city and beyond. Clyde's core support was drawn from these areas and sadly many of them have never returned to follow the Bully Wee.
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Common belief has it that Clyde have never competed in European competition as in 1967 they were denied entry to the Inter-Cities Fairs' Cup.
However a few years earlier in 1960, Clyde did compete in a short-live competition called the Friendship Cup. This was an inter-League competition between England, France and Scotland. Four teams from each country competed and the results were aggregated to provide the 'best' League. It proved to be an unpopular format and was dropped in 1962.
For the record, Clyde were drawn against Lens of France and beat them 4-0 away and 2-1 at Shawfield.
So, to add to our list of achievements we're also unbeaten in Europe!