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Monday, 15 July, 2002, 19:02 GMT 20:02 UK
Well dries for the Bankies
Owen Coyle scores a penalty for Clydebank at Kilbowie
The writing was on the wall when Kilbowie was sold

When Airdrie was threatened with the loss of its senior football team, the crescendo of fans up in arms was far more audible than ever was the clicking of the club's turnstiles.

But Clydebank Football Club died, not so much with a bang but a whimper.

Clydebank, originally a junior club formed in 1899, had only joined the Scottish Football League in 1966. Some good times followed.

They won a place in Scotland's top flight in 1977 a year after winning the Second Division title, reached the Scottish Cup semi-finals in 1990, showcased the immense talents of soon-to-be Rangers and Scotland winger Davie Cooper and were sponsored by local pop band made good Wet Wet Wet.

Davie Cooper in Clydebank colours, sponsored by Wet Wet Wet
Davie Cooper wears the Wet Wet Wet shirt
But debts grew, their bankers forced the sale of New Kilbowie Park in 1996 and hard times continued as lodgers to Dumbarton then Morton across the River Clyde in Greenock.

The Steedmans, the family who steered the club for so long, sold it to ex-pat millionaire John Hall and, after bizarre attempts to move to places like Gala failed, he looked poised to sell it on to the United Clydebank Supporters at the end of the coming season.

But, like the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders with whom they share their initials, UCS were left to feel sold down the river as Airdrie United's rival bid was accepted by the administrator and Hall failed to help.

The lack of column inches devoted to Clydebank's demise compared to Airdrieonians only weeks before could perhaps be explained by having fewer friends in high places.

Airdrieonians no doubt benefitted from having their highest-profile fan ensconced in the sports editor's chair of perhaps Scotland's most influential daily newspaper, The Daily Record.

Former Scotland star Billy McKinlay (left) in action for Bankies last season
Billy McKinlay (left) played last season
That many other publications will have felt obliged to follow on Jim Traynor's raincoat tails is without question.

But that cannot totally account for the virtual media silence that followed Bankies' withdrawal from Scottish senior football.

Falkirk, Partick Thistle, Motherwell, Hearts, Hibernian, Dunfermline Athletic, Livingston, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Raith Rovers, Hamilton Academical, Morton ... the list of Scottish clubs who at one time or another had come close to liquidation in recent history is almost endless.

There was a feeling that it was only a matter of time before one of them finally followed Third Lanark, three decades before them, to the wall.

Derek Ferguson
Derek Ferguson: the last Bankies manager
That Airdrieonians should finally lose their battle to recover from the over-ambitious building a new, all-seater stadium at the end of a season when they finished runners-up in Division One was seen as particularly ironic.

When the new group attempting a rebirth as Airdrie United were beaten by English Unibond League outfit Gretna in the vote to take the vacant spot in the Scottish Football League, they turned predator to buy Clydebank and take their place in Division Two.

But public sympathy for a club so long without their own ground and without any immediate prospect of playing in their home town had dried up along with the funds - and will - necessary to keep the wolf from the door.


A tale of woe

AUDIOVIDEO
See also:

12 Jul 02 | Scotland
11 Jul 02 | Scotland
10 Jul 02 | Scotland
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