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Wednesday, 1 May, 2002, 16:36 GMT 17:36 UK
Airdrie history ends here
Airdrie make their European debut against Sparta Prague
Airdrie make their European debut
  Sports Talk: How to halt the decline?

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By Martin Conaghan

As predicted at the opening of Airdrie's magnificent Shyberry Excelsior Stadium in 1998, the Lanarkshire club is now officially out of business, following years of overwhelming debts.

A close run-in for the Division One title towards the end of the current season with Partick Thistle jostling alongside was sadly dashed, and hopes of the club reaching the Scottish Premier League and the associated financial benefits have slipped from their grasp.

With average attendances at home matches totalling little more than 3,000 over the past few seasons, the club have finally fallen into liquidation and the famous Diamond jerseys may never see the light of day again.

Founded in 1878 as the Excelsior Football Club, the team changed its name to Airdrieonians in 1881 and can boast among its minor achievements being the first Scottish club to score from a penalty kick in 1891.

In 1894 they were elected to the Scottish Second Division and recorded a 15-1 victory over Dundee Wanderers, which remains the club's record win to this day.

Airdrie line up in the Scottish Cup final against Celtic
Airdrie line up in the Scottish Cup final
The team first donned the famous "diamond" striped jerseys to entertain a 25,000-strong crowd in 1912 against Rangers and eventually picked up the Scottish Cup at Ibrox in 1924 when they defeated Hibernian 2-0.

In the 1923-24 season, the meteoric rise of Airdrie as a recognised force capable of challenging the Old Firm could be largely attributed to the controversial striker Hughie Gallacher.

At 5ft 5in, the diminutive centre-forward galvanised the Lanarkshire club with his immense talent, scoring 10 goals in 18 games during the previous season, and pushing his side into the runner-up spot behind Rangers.

In 1940, the legendary Stanley Matthews made a guest appearance for Airdrie against Dundee United and the club continued to create problems for Scotland's big two.

However, over the proceeding decades The Diamonds exited two semi-finals at the hands of Celtic between 1961-66 and narrowly lost out to the Parkhead giants in the Scottish Cup Finals of 1975 and 1995.

Andy Smith celebrates his cup final goal against Rangers
Andy Smith celebrates a cup final goal against Rangers
Recent years appeared to ring in the changes at the club, with the development of a youth policy and a return to their home town of Airdrie in the shape of a new 10,000 seater stadium, following a four-year absence playing at Clyde's Broadwood stadium near Cumbernauld.

Despite this, news of their cash problems have been boiling over in the Scottish media for several years and a troubled takeover by the former Aberdeen and Scotland player Steve Archibald ultimately failed.

Understandably, fans have been desperate to save their club from extinction, shamefully illustrated in a pitch invasion against Ayr United last Saturday.

But the 11th-hour has now come and gone and Airdrie Football Club appears to have become the first victim of the great British football implosion.

Only time will tell if a Fergus McCann-like saviour will appear at the 12th hour to snatch this historic club from the jaws of oblivion.

See also:

01 May 02 |  Airdrieonians
End for Airdrie
27 Apr 02 |  Airdrieonians
Airdrie match stopped by invasion
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