In July 2016, the Daily Record ran a story about Clyde FC returning to their roots at Rutherglen, south of the river the club was named after in 1877, half a mile from Celtic Park. The article pointed out the potential involvement of the Clyde Gateway development group, a group of old players and officials, and the suggested site of Cuningar Loop, in a bend on the river.
The news came 30 years after Clyde played their last game at the Shawfield Stadium, at the next bend in the river, which continues to be Scotland’s only greyhound track still in operation.
After groundsharing at Partick and Hamilton for eight years, since 1994 Clyde have been based at an infamous New Town halfway between Glasgow and Falkirk: Cumbernauld.
At first, the move made sense. Cumbernauld was Scotland’s fifth-largest city and largest one without a football club. Clyde had become known as the Gypsy Army and needed to find a permanent home. A community sports stadium, Broadwood, was duly built, owned by North Lanarkshire Council. A first match, ironically against Clyde’s previous landlords, Hamilton, attracted a full house of 6,000.
But, over time, neither Cumbernauld took to Clyde or Clyde to Cumbernauld.
In truth, Cumbernauld is a hard child to love. The original village, built close the Antonine Wall that marked the furthest north of the Roman Empire, was set in rolling countryside, an agricultural and weaving centre with a coaching inn.
This all changed when Cumbernauld was designated in the Clyde Valley Regional Plan of 1946 as a New Town, to cope with the lack of decent housing in Glasgow.
What was built was maze of walkways and underpasses, Britain’s first shopping centre, few parking places – and no football stadium.
Clyde weren’t the only new visitors. Broadwood also accommodated Airdrie, who had lost their own Broomfield Park stadium as the same time as Shawfield’s greyhound management turfed out Clyde. Scotland’s under-21 side also played here several times, Cumbernauld’s location between Glasgow and Edinburgh a plus point. Various local rugby sides, too, used Broadwood.
Tensions between Clyde and North Lanarkshire Council came to a head in 2004 when the Glasgow’s former third club looked set for a return to the top flight. Close to bankruptcy after a decade of low crowds, Clyde were desperate to reach the SPL – but would have been refused as Broadwood did not meet league requirements. The council duly began work on a new stand – then found out that Clyde were close to bankruptcy.
In the end, Clyde failed to gain promotion on the last game of the season – but the die was cast. While Clyde slowly climbed out of debt thanks to a takeover from a supporters’ trust, a local outfit, the Cumbernauld Colts, were coming to the fore.
Formed as a youth club in 1969, the Colts ran teams in several age groups, producing the likes of Derek Whyte and Jackie McNamara, both later to play for Celtic and Scotland.
In 2009, Clyde nearly went under again. The club duly announced their intention to leave Cumbernauld, outlining that ‘both parties had agreed to work toward an exit over an extended period’. Another New Town, East Kilbride, was mooted as a potential destination.
In 2012, the Cumbernauld Colts moved into Broadwood. In 2016, having joined the fifth-flight Lowland League, the Colts finished a creditable fourth and reached the third round of the Scottish Cup. As a town, Cumbernauld had found its club.
East Kilbride FC had been granted full SFA membership and a place in the Lowland League the season before. After finishing league runners-up in 2015, EK had a dream cup run of their own in 2015-16, playing Celtic in the fifth round, though having to switch the fixture to Airdie.
So, with both East Kilbride and Cumbernauld nurturing potential Scottish League clubs of their own, Clyde are looking to a homecoming in Rutherglen – but they’ll be based at Broadwood for a few years yet. The Bully Wee made the League Two play-offs in 2016, 1,300 gathered for the visit of Queen’s Park, more than twice Clyde’s average gate.
While easy motorway connections have fuelled Cumbernauld’s continuing expansion – Broadwood is on the other side of the M80, a couple of miles north-west of the New Town’s central hub – the old village has hung on, now existing as a thriving conservation area within the modern sprawl. A mile or so north-east of the bizarre Antonine Shopping Centre, Asda et al, Cumbernauld Village contains the most homely and authentic of the local pubs, on and off Main Street.
From Stance 9 at Glasgow Airport, Stagecoach bus JET Connect X24 runs hourly to Cumbernauld town centre north (1hr 10min journey time, £9 single, £16.20 monthly return). A Glasgow dayrider plus ticket (£9.30) allows use of Stagecoach buses that day in both Glasgow and Cumbernauld.
From Edinburgh, there’s no direct bus to Cumbernauld– you’ll have to take the half-hourly Citylink Air bus to Glasgow (from Stance C on Jubilee Road, 50min, to Strathclyde Univ/Cathedral Street, £11.40) then change onto the Stagecoach X25A to Nth Carbrain Rd/Cumbernauld College (18min, £3.10), which arrives right by the Antonine Shopping Centre.
The main bus hub in Cumbernauld is the Town Centre, between the Antonine and Cumbernauld shopping centres, served by First, McGill’s, Stagecoach and Dunns. Each has a different ticketing system. For all details, see Traveline Scotland.
Four trains an hour run direct from Glasgow Central (30-45min journey time, £4.40). From Edinburgh, Stirling etc, you’ll have to change at Falkirk for Cumbernauld. The rail station is on Sth Carbrain Rd, about 500 metres to the Antonine but a tricky walk. There’s a taxi kiosk outside.
The nearest station to Broadwood stadium is Croy – 12-18m from Glasgow Queen St (£4), four trains an hour. There are direct half-hourly services from Edinburgh (35min, £11), and from Stirling (20min, £5).
Cumbernauld Taxis (01236 738 383) is a long-established firm with airport transfers.
The only hotel within walking distance of Broadwood is the Travelodge Glasgow Cumbernauld, by Auchenkilns Roundabout, a 10min walk away on the stadium side of the motorway. Expect all the standard, affordable facilities.
About a mile north of Croy, the nearest station to the stadium, The Boathouse is a great little find, a waterside ten-room lodging, classy bar and quality restaurant overlooking Auchinstarry Marina. Superior rooms feature power showers in designer-fitted bathrooms. The nearest bus stop for the stadium is 300m away, over the water by Kilsyth cemetery: the No.4B goes to Croy station, the No.43 runs to Craiglinn Roundabout by Broadwood while the Nos.147 and 147A go to Blackwood Roundabout, also close. Coming back, the bus stop by Auchinstarry Farm is 5min from The Boathouse.
About a mile further north into Kilsyth, The Coachman is a contemporary hotel reconfigured in 2008 to feature a sports bar with seven high-def TVs, a gourmet restaurant, conference facilities and 11 stylish guestrooms. As it’s closer to Croy than it is to Cumbernauld, it’s still relatively convenient for the stadium. Across the road, is bus No.4B to Croy station – round the corner, opposite Kilsyth swimming pool, is the stop for the Nos.43, 147 and 147A.
For a stay with more character, then the Black Bull in the old village comprises four en-suite guestrooms above a pleasant, cosy pub where food is also served. This is how Cumbernauld looked before the modern world moved in.
Just the other side of the motorway from there, the Westerwood Hotel & Golf Resort is the most impressive of the accommodation in the vicinity, with a lovely pool, a spa, a gym and two fine restaurants whose chefs source locally. There are conference facilities and, naturally, a golf course designed by Seve Ballesteros. All is next door to Cumbernauld Airport, a hub for private planes.
Some 2km further up the M80 away from town, the Castlecary House Hotel is a classic choice, with 52 nicely kept rooms and two popular lounge bars, plus garden – it’s frequently used for weddings. In August 2016, the owner of 40 years put the hotel up for sale – hopefully the buyers treat the building and the guests who stay in it with similar care. Alongside is the Poachers Lounge & Wee Bar, a friendly bar with TV sport and decent food. For the centre of Cumbernauld from here by public transport, take half-hourly bus Nos.X37 or X39 from across the road.
There’s a reasonably simple choice between chain/modern venues in the centre of the New Town and traditional pubs in the old village.
By the Antonine Shopping Centre, Kelly’s (1-3 Tweed Walk) is a bare Irish bar with a TV over the pool table while, nearby, the Carrick Stone is an equally standard Wetherspoon.
Walk up slightly further along, past Cumbernauld Theatre, and you’re in the old village. Here, at the corner of the main road from the New Town and quaint, historic Main Street, the Spur Hotel was once a coaching inn and has long been a landmark pub. Just along Main Street, The Circle at No.62 attracts a younger clientele in the evenings – it’s closed during the day.
Best choice of pubs is the Black Bull, partly for its big screen for football, partly because of its weekend party events, partly because of its quality food, but mainly because of its homely atmosphere. Rooms upstairs, too.