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Clyde In The Cumbernauld News - 15 May 2002

By Bob McPherson
Wed, 15th May 2002 12:00am

Last year some research revealed that there were only twenty-four players in the Scottish Premier League who had made more than 100 league appearances, out of a registered total of nearly 340 players. So what? Does a lengthy player-club association really matter any more? Well, it still matters at Broadwood. Bully Wee fans give support to everyone who wears the white shirt but real affection is reserved for those who obviously care about Clyde.

A couple of years ago I began to write brief biographies of over sixty outstanding Clyde players, most of whom had clocked up hundreds of appearances for the Bully Wee. None of these players were merely passing through. They didn’t belong to anyone else. They were Clyde heroes. Brian Ahern was on my list. In the 1970s Brian made a record 428 league appearances for Clyde and although he briefly played for Ayr United before returning to Clyde he was and always will be ‘Brian Ahern of the Clyde’.

Another player who won the hearts of the Clyde support was Keith Knox. Now even Keith’s many admirers wouldn’t claim he was the best Clyde player of all-time but he was certainly one of the most popular because when he played he showed Clyde meant everything to him. He celebrated and despaired as much as any fan and it is this mutuality which is in danger of extinction.

Nowadays there are a number of web sites with players’ contract-ending dates displayed for all to see. The message is obvious. Money is made in football by moving on after every contract. But there is another message - and it comes from the fans. When things are not going too well and fans are asked to remain loyal they are increasingly looking out on the pitch at players who have hardly been at their club for more than ten minutes and asking the question, ‘why should I?’

Bully Wee fans want more long-term Clyde men. They want a continuation of the bond of togetherness and the unity of interest between those on the pitch field and in the stands. That’s why Clyde are called a club. When I began to compile my Clyde ‘All-Time Greats" list it was intended to publish it to coincide with Clyde’s 125th anniversary, which occurs next year. It is to be hoped that when Clyde mark their 150th year there will have been a sufficient number of true Clyde players to make necessary a revised list.