42 Grounds: Ground 11: Broadwood

The end of September means a shift in the weather.

The warm days spent enjoying the football in a layer or two are gone and they are replaced with an acceptance of cold, damp Saturdays watching games.

Of course, there are some positives to the beginning of October.

We have an idea of the runners and riders for each of the leagues and Cups and we can predict with a fair degree of certainty where the team we support might finish.

The changing narratives of a ‘promotion battle’ or ‘relegation dogfight’ add interest, replacing the distant hope of August.

We all know the routine. Each week or fortnight we add an extra layer of warmth to our outfit until eventually we run out of options and can only hope that we’ve got it right this season.

New conditions don’t only change supporter habits. Games are at risk of postponement and those that do go ahead can see strategies and tactics dictated by the wind or the howling rain.

Today’s trip was to Broadwood, home of Clyde as they took on leaders Forfar Athletic in a top of the table clash between first and second in League 2.

Google reliably informed me that the nearest station to the stadium is Croy.

This is significant for historical reasons, and looking ahead to the future.

The Bully Wee have a remarkable history of stadium moves.

Having started at a Barrowfield, they made the short move to Shawfield in Glasgow early in the 20th century. Groundshares with Partick Thistle at Firhill and Hamilton at Douglas Park in the 90s saw the club through until a move to their current home of Broadwood was finalised in 1994.

In recent years there has been talk of a move to another new stadium.

Various issues along with a declining support have left the club considering its options.

Most recently a move to East Kilbride was on the cards, but the advent of the Lowland League and a pyramid system means that seems to be off the cards.

On the pitch Clyde are familiar with change as well, with promotions and relegations the norm in the last twenty years.

From one win away from top flight football in 2004, to a Scottish Cup win over Celtic in 2006 and on to 2011 and a bottom placed finish in the Third Division, Clyde supporters have certainly been on a rollercoaster ride.

Now, under the stewardship of former Rangers and Scotland captain Barry Ferguson, they are looking to challenge at the top of the table again.

I arrived in Croy and, as usual looked to Google Maps for directions. As I followed them I was struck by a few things. How isolated the train station was and how unsafe the direction I was supposed to walk looked.

Thankfully I found an alternate route and walked along winding paths and through groups of houses to Broadwood.

It was not the easiest stadium to find for a first time visitor, and it certainly isn’t helped by its remote location.

The stadium is certainly impressive. The first thing that catches the eye is the enormous main stand which held all of the home and away fans today.

In total there are three stands, with two running alongside the pitch and one behind a goal. The other goal has a building behind it as part of the wider leisure complex.

Clyde are tenants in the stadium, and have been since 1994.

The ground is too big. The 8000 seats would just about be appropriate for a team in the top flight, not the very bottom.

At least one toilet stall has no lock and discoloured seats are dotted around the stand. Material is used to cover the seats at the front of the unused stands but it isn’t clear why and it doesn’t look great.

A sign on the wall explains that those in charge of the stadium want to provide the best service possible for customers.

Not many football fans consider themselves customers, and to be referred to as such removes any illusion of the importance of supporters to their club.

There is no problem with the way the facility is run, it just doesn’t seem to suit the Bully Wee.

I also see adverts around for the work that the club do in the community.

This is great, but I genuinely wonder where that community is. Stickers around the ground highlight fond memories of ‘Shawfield’ and the club were all set to move to a different town just a few seasons ago.

This does not seem to be a club absolutely wedded to Cumbernauld.

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A customer notice for those making use of the facilities.
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The empty stand behind the goal.
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The large empty stand running alongside the pitch.

As the game started there was no obvious difference in quality between the two sides, despite Forfar’s faultless start to the season.

The Bully Wee created several chances but failed to convert them, much to the ire of those around me.

Those misses came back to haunt them in the 41st minute when Forfar’s Thomas O’Brien managed to head home from a (dubious) corner.

As the half time whistle blew there was a real sense of frustration and the home side surely spent half time scratching their head wondering how they were behind.

The second half started as the first had ended with Clyde putting pressure on the Loons defence.

Despite this they didn’t manage to break down the stern Forfar resistance.

Someone remarked that the game was ‘one of the most boring I have seen’ and it was hard to argue with that assessment as the clock ticked on.

There was some late drama with a goal line scramble in added time, but Forfar did enough to hold on and extend their lead at the top of the table.

Clyde played some good football over the course of 90 minutes, creating enough chances to win the game, let alone draw it.

Off the pitch they seem to have grown healthier in recent years. Perhaps all that is missing is a home to call their own.

Clyde 0 Forfar 1

Attendance: 667

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