Clyde FC was desperate to find a new home and Cumbernauld Development Corporation was keen to have a flagship sports stadium and professional football team to promote the town. The grand scheme, at a new site called "Broadwood" was to have an integrated business, housing and leisure development with a football stadium at the heart of it. With the help of Football Trust backing two modern stands began to emerge during the early 1990s.
This was Clyde's big chance to start afresh. The Club would of course still be tenants, but that was nothing new to the Bully Wee. Cumbernauld with a 50,000+ population seemed fertile ground on which to grow a new support. Others said that a team just couldn't be grafted onto a town and everything would be fine.
The Scottish League unusually granted permission for Clyde to switch grounds mid season, and fittingly our former landlords, Hamilton Accies, were the inaugural opposition on 5th February 1994. A capacity crowd of 6000 watched as Clyde failed to ignite in their new surroundings and the Accies won 2-0.
While huge efforts were being made to entice the population of Cumbernauld to adopt Clyde as their team, the product on the pitch left a lot to be desired in terms of entertainment. Sadly the crowds soon drifted away as Clyde succumbed to yet another League reconstruction and life in the 3rd tier of Scottish football.
Broadwood seemed a fine and modern venue, if a little cold and windy. The problem with the grand scheme for Clyde and Broadwood was that both needed serious capital to succeed. Clyde didn't have the money and the whole Broadwood project stumbled, as it was dependent on the local population flocking to the stadium.
Local government reorganisation saw Cumbernauld's autonomy heavily diluted into the much larger North Lanarkshire Council. Developing Broadwood was a very low priority although a third stand was eventually built. However, the original plans for the Broadwood project will never be completed.
Clyde were finding life very difficult in the third tier of football and in 1998 they almost dropped into the lowest reaches of Senior football. This was enough for new Chairman, Billy Carmichael, to introduce sweeping changes. A charismatic figure, Ronnie Macdonald, had worked wonders in revitalising Maryhill Juniors and he was invited to do the same for Clyde.
Within days of his appointment, Macdonald had signed a whole squad from the Junior ranks. The majority had severe doubts about the strategy but within two seasons Clyde had gained promotion at a canter. At the same time the Club and the fans had rediscovered their pride too.
As quickly as Macdonald had arrived, he departed with his backroom team and associates in a dispute over youth funding. Again the Chairman took this setback as a cue for further progress and he ploughed his personal fortune into providing Clyde with a squad that could challenge for the SPL.
The season 2003-04 was one of the strangest ever. Clyde were top of the League and looking set for the SPL. Yet, Broadwood didn't comply with SPL requirements and crucially Clyde were on the brink of being petitioned by their creditors and liquidated. While the Chairman's fortune was being spent on players' wages, very little else was being serviced. It was classic boom or bust, but it seemed the gamble would pay off if Clyde could reach the SPL.
In a crazy season the SPL finally relented and said Clyde could join them if the fourth stand was built. North Lanarkshire Council started the groundworks and then abruptly halted them as they became aware of Clyde's financial plight. Plan B, playing at Kilmarnock, was hastily progressed.
Inverness Caledonian Thistle ensured Clyde needn't have bothered with the arrangements. With three games to go it was all in Clyde's hands. An away win at lowly Ayr United would put Clyde in the driving seat. A deeply frustrating draw ensued and the title was up for grabs as Inverness came to visit Broadwood the following week. Clyde failed to respond to the task at hand as Inverness won 2-1. In effect the title was lost and Clyde had a mountain of debt to address.
One positive from the 2003-04 season was the formation of the Clyde Supporters' Trust. Early that season some concerned fans met knowing that the Chairman couldn't keep financing the Club indefinitely. When he stopped there would have to be some kind of structure to catch the Club as it fell. The timing of the Trust's formation was fortunate as with Clyde's failure to gain promotion the Chairman sought to sell his majority shareholding.
Following lengthy negotiations a consortium comprised of the Trust and traditional investors gained the majority shareholding for a nominal sum. The Clyde Development Consortium took control of funds gathered by fans and investors and used it to finance the Club through a CVA to clear the debts. In June 2005 the CVA was completed and Clyde were essentially debt free. Since then the club has cut its cloth accordingly and sought to maximise every revenue stream in an attempt to keep Clyde competitive.
Echoes of the glory days returned briefly on 8th January 2006 when Celtic visited Broadwood in the Scottish Cup. Celtic were such heavy favourites that the game was presented as a gentle introduction for their new signing, Roy Keane. Clyde's young lads ran right through them and Celtic were flattered by a 2-1 defeat. Winning the odd promotion aside, it was Clyde's best day for decades.
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Not many institutions or limited companies have lasted almost unchanged for 130 years. After all we've been through it's no minor triumph that we are here to tell the tale. With our roots on either side of the Rutherglen bridge we have a history to be rightly proud of. We have no sectarian or territorial axes to grind - we simply follow the fortunes of a football team called Clyde. In the past thirty or so years we certainly haven't been in it for the glory either. Mattha Gemmell correctly stated the requirement for being a Clyde fan was: 'A heart made in a foundry.'
Cumbernauld hasn't been the dream ticket we hoped it would be. However, it is a base and the potential will always be there to engage with the people of the town. It's a slow process but maybe we'll get there one day if the administrators of our game can restructure football and help bring the fans flocking back. For the foreseeable future though, it will be a perpetual struggle just to keep Clyde in the top tier of the SFL. As Bully Wee fans, would we expect matters any other way?