Clyde Football Club were founded in 1877 and for the first 21 years of their life, the club called Bridgeton its home. This was to change with a short hop across the Clyde to Shawfield, where on the 27th of August 1898, Clyde played out a 0-0 draw with local rivals Celtic at their new stadium. The attendance for the crowd was listed as around 10,000 with gate receipts in excess of over £200 being recorded. In the present day, you can find hospitality packages that cost more than the total gate receipts from the first day at Shawfield but for its time, this was a very notable figure.
Clyde, like Partick Thistle, Queens Park and Third Lanark, have had to play in the shadow of Glasgow’s main clubs but that is not to say that there have not been many great moments in the history of the Bully Wee. The club’s nickname alone stands them out as being of a different time and era with a number of different theories regarding the nickname. One plausible suggestion is that it is an about turn of the phrase “wee bullies”, with many of the fans and players of the club hailing from some of the rougher parts of the city like Bridgeton. There is a slightly more exotic suggestion linked to French visitors at the start of the 20th century but in all likelihood, the reason for the name can be found in Victorian times. The term “bully” was commonly used to refer to something that is “good” or “enjoyable”, which would have mixed well with Glaswegian parlance to refer to the side as the “bully wee Clyde.”
The largest attendance for a football match at Shawfield came in 1908, when 52,000 fans turned up to watch Clyde play Rangers. Dog racing first came to Shawfield in 1932 but financial difficulties at the club soon found Clyde selling Shawfield to the Greyhound Racing Association (GRA) in 1935, with the club remaining at the ground as tenants. This agreement lasted until the mid 1980s when the GRA announced plans to remodel the stadium and evict Clyde. These plans eventually came to nothing but Clyde had by this time started ground sharing with city rivals Partick Thistle. There was hope that Clyde would return to their spiritual home but a further three years ground sharing with Hamilton Academicals took place before the club set up their new home in Cumbernauld.
This killed all hope of Clyde returning to Shawfield, which was now the home of not only dog racing in the city but also the Glasgow Tigers, a speedway team. The team called Shawfield their home from 1988 to 1995 and then again from 1997 to 1998. The in between year, 1996, the Scottish Monarchs, formerly the Edinburgh Monarchs, speedway racing team set up camp in Glasgow but this was to be short-lived. The Monarchs soon returned East with the Tigers returning to Shawfield before decamping to Ashfield. All throughout these changes, and to this day, the greyhound racing has carried on at the stadium. If you are looking to have a night out at Shawfield, the races occur on Friday and Saturday night. More information about the dog racing events can be found here:
The location of Shawfield, on the boundary between the city of Glasgow and the town of Rutherglen, has meant some interesting anomalies have arisen. The club was considered as being located outside the city of Glasgow during World War II, which allowed them to have greater attendances than stadiums inside the city boundaries. In the interest of safety, stadiums within Glasgow were restricted to play host to 10,000 fans whereas Shawfield was able to welcome 20,000 through it’s doors. The peculiarities of this regulation was exposed with Celtic, whose stadium Celtic Park lies less than one mile from Shawfield, restricted to permitting less than half the attendance that Clyde could claim during the war.
However, in the 1966/67 season, Clyde claimed third place in the league, which ordinarily would have granted them entry into the following season’s Inter-Cities Fairs Cup competition. Sadly for Clyde, this tournament only permitted one club from a single city and with Rangers finishing as runners-up, Clyde were prevented from playing in Europe. This led to the board of directors claiming that the club was based in Rutherglen but their appeal was not upheld. A membership of the Glasgow Football Association and participation (as well as a proud history) in the Glasgow Cup counted against Clyde.
In 1975, Rutherglen was incorporated into Glasgow, which meant that Shawfield Stadium was completely contained within the Glasgow district. This state of affairs lasted for 21 years when a further reshuffle resulted in the creation of South Lanarkshire, with Shawfield Stadium now being completely outwith the Glasgow boundaries. This move came 30 years too late for the club to participate in Europe but of course, European football’s governing body would still have had issues about Clyde’s membership of the Glasgow Football Association.