Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Airdrieonians - Shyberry Excelsior Stadium

29th August 1998

Airdrieonians 0-1 Raith Rovers

The town of Airdrie’s former football club was called, quite majestically, Airdrionians and they spent the majority of their life at Broomfield Park in the centre of the town.  I only visited Broomfield twice, the first of these back in February 1973 when, with a couple of friends, I jumped on the No16 bus from Bathgate to Airdrie to watch the locals entertain Hibernian.  My two friends were Hibbys who, coincidently had family in Airdrie, with whom we had lunch.

Broomfield was a typical Scottish ground of the time in most respects, with a main stand running down one side, covered terracing along the other plus two uncovered ends.  But what it also boasted, quite uniquely, was a small wooden pavilion in one corner of the ground – a quaint gable-roofed affair which looked as if it should have been sitting in an English cricket ground somewhere.  

The other curio, which even today I am not sure if I made up, was a group of pretty teenage girls flogging cigarettes from trays strung around their necks, rather in the manner of those usherettes who come around with King Cones and Choc Ices during theatre intervals.  Hibernian won the match 4-0 with the late Alan Gordon scoring all four, in a flawless display of finishing. 

In 1994 Airdrieonians sold Broomfield to Safeway, with the intention of using the sale proceeds to fund the building a new stadium on the eastern edge of the town.  All manner of complications led to delay after delay however, and the stadium was not ready until 1998 -  the club being forced into groundshare arrangements during the interregnum.  

This delay would financially cripple the club, with the result that after only four years in their new home, Airdrieonians entered liquidation.  The problem was solved, however, by the simple expedient of having their debts written off, then by going out and buying another league club - Clydebank FC – and installing them in the empty stadium, after renaming them Airdrie United.  

All very neat, unless you happened to be a Clydebank fan or indeed any football fan with a sense of fair play and a modicum of integrity.

In 2013 Airdrie United reverted to using the name Airdrieonians.

The main entrance in 1998
...and in 2016.
"Shyberry" has been removed from the name of the ground following the demise of the sponsor
Shyberry Design Ltd in 2003.  The Airdrieonians sign has also been lost,
but I am guessing this occurred when the original club of that name died in 2002.

But much of that tale was still in the future, and this match at the Shyberry between Airdrieonians and Raith Rovers in 1998 was in fact only the fourth competitive one to have been played at the stadium, with a 1-0 Scottish League Cup win over Celtic one of the three previous.  Whilst I am sure the place would have been jumping for that famous victory, this afternoon you could have heard a pin drop for most of the game.  

Being a neutral at a football match can be a most disorientating experience - some people I know will not do it, and cannot fathom the mindset of anyone who will.  For many people attendance without commitment is a hollow experience.  For if one is supporter of one of the combatants, even the dullest 0-0 draw will still hold the attention, as long as there still exists the possibility of sneaking a wee 1-0. 

Generally as a neutral myself, I tend to gravitate towards the underdog, but when faced with such tedious guff as this, I start to pray that someone, anyone will score. Thankfully, after what seemed like an aeon, (but was only 81 minutes) someone did -the visitors - when Paul HARTLEY headed in an Ian Cameron corner.  

Both sides then immediately jumped into life, and proceeded to do what they had actually been paid to do since 3PM – to attempt to entertain – and a clutch of chances arrived at both ends.  Finally, in injury time, Jimmy Sandison was tumbled by a Raith defender, only for Paul McGrillen (perhaps inevitably) to send the spot kick into row Z.

Panorama of The Shyberry Excelsior Stadium, Airdrie - 1998
A considerably improved quality panorama view from 2016


12th November 2016

Airdrieonians 1-0 Brechin City
Russell (pen 53)

Excelsior Stadium, Airdrie

Adjacent to the Excelsior Stadium is Burn Stewart Distillers.
I have never seen so many barrels in the one place before!
I assume they are all empty, given they are out in the open.

Facade to the Jack Dalziel Stand

Airdrieonians v Brechin - November 2016

There is something immeasurably cool about Airdrie's Diamonds shirt.

L to R: Andy Ryan, Paul McLean & Dougie Hill

Airdrieonians v Brechin City - November 2016

Brechin's Alan Trouten & Airdrie's Ryan Conroy 

Panorama of Excelsior Stadium, Airdrie.

Panorama of Excelsior Stadium, Airdrie.

Former-Gunner Daniel Boateng

A converted penalty-kick awarded for what look to me
like an unintentional, indeed unavoidable, hand-ball settled this match.
Scored by Iain Russell.

Super-Moon (almost) over the Excelsior.

Super-Moon (almost) over the Excelsior.

The East Stand is generally given over to Away Support, but the smattering
of souls who made their way down from Brechin were housed in a corner of
the main stand.

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