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information at time of demise
Full name Airdrieonians Football Club
Nickname(s) The Diamonds
The Waysiders
Founded 1878 as Excelsior F.C.
Dissolved 2002
Ground Excelsior Stadium
Airdrie, Lanarkshire
(Capacity: 10,171)
League Scottish First Division
2001–2002 Scottish First Division, 2nd
Home colours
Away colours

Airdrieonians Football Club, more commonly known as Airdrie, were a Scottish professional football team from the town of Airdrie, in the Monklands area of Lanarkshire.

The club became defunct at the end of the Scottish Football League 2001–02 season, despite the team finishing as runners-up in the SFL First Division to Partick Thistle and therefore only narrowly missing out on promotion to the Scottish Premier League.

During their one hundred and twenty four year existence the "Diamonds", as they were nicknamed, won the old Scottish Division Two three times, the Spring Cup once and the Scottish Challenge Cup on three occasions. The club also competed in four separate Scottish Cup finals; winning the competition in 1924.

Airdrieonians were the first club in the Scottish League to fold since 1967, when Third Lanark went bankrupt.




Formation & Early Years

The team was founded in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire in 1878 as Excelsior Football Club, changing its name to Airdrieonians in 1881.

The club enjoyed its most successful era in the 1920s following the signing of Hughie Gallacher from Queen of the South in 1921. Airdrie finished in second place in the Scottish League Championship four years in a row in between 1923 and 1926 as well as winning the Scottish Cup in 1924. Following this victory, in early summer 1925, the club visited Norway and Sweden, and made a big impression. Translations of local newspaper reports, and some photographs of the tour, are still available[1]. Gallacher was on board until 8 December 1925 when he departed to similarly terrorise defences in England. It was while at Airdrie in 1924 that the future member of the Wembley Wizards won his first international cap.

Post war era and beyond

Airdrie spent much of the post war era "yo-yoing" between the top flight and Second Division. They reached the Scottish Cup Final in 1975, losing 3–1 to Celtic, and also the Texaco Cup Final of 1972, losing 2–1 on aggregate to Derby County.

Alex MacDonald Era

Airdrieonians compete in 1995 Scottish Cup Final

During the 1990s, with Alex MacDonald at the helm, Airdrie, having been members of the Premier Division in the 1991–92 and 1992–93 seasons, were regularly considered challengers for promotion and recognised as one of the bigger clubs in First Division. MacDonald also guided the Diamonds to two Scottish Cup finals. The first appearance coming on 9 May 1992 when the club faced Rangers in front of 44,045 strong crowd at Hampden Park. Unfortunately for Airdrie on this occasion however, a goal each from Mark Hateley and Ally McCoist earned the blue half of Glasgow a 2–1 victory and sent the MacDonald's side home empty-handed. When the Diamonds returned to the national stadium three years later for their second attempt at Scottish Cup glory they would this time face this time face the other half of the Old Firm in the form of Celtic. But MacDonald and Airdrie would once again fall at the final hurdle as they lost 1–0 to a Pierre van Hooijdonk goal. Notably, this match took place on 27 May 1995; a mere seven years before the club went out of business


Though there was due heartache caused by the club's defeat in the 1992 Final, Airdrie fans still had something positive to think about as they left Hampden that day.

With Rangers having won the Premier Division and therefore qualified for the Champions League it meant Airdrie, as 1992 Scottish Cup runners-up would represent Scotland in the 1992–93 Cup Winners' Cup. This would be the club's first appearance in any European competition in their history.

Airdrie were drawn against Czech side Sparta Prague in the First Round and the first leg of the tie was to take place at Broomfield. The Diamonds would lose this encounter 1–0 and then go on to taste defeat in the Czech capital with the scoreline reading 2–1 in Sparta's favour. The club consequently lost the overall tie by an aggregate score of three goals to one and were eliminated from the competition.

Airdrie's only goal in the tie, subsequently the club only in any European competition, was Kenny Black, who later went on to become manager of Airdrieonians' reincarnation Airdrie United.


For most of its history, Airdrieonians played at Broomfield Park in Airdrie town centre. The final game at Broomfield took place in May 1994 after which the ground, having been sold to supermarket chain Safeway, was demolished to make room for their new store. The club's intention was to make use of the funds generated from the sale to build a new ten thousand capacity, all-seated stadium and therefore make the club eligible for entry into the top tier of Scottish Football should they win the First Division. The plan was fraught with problems, however, and acquiring planning permission for the new ground proved difficult. As a result of this Airdrie went on to groundshare with Clyde at Broadwood Stadium in Cumbernauld for four seasons with the club eventually moving into its new home, the Shyberry Excelsior Stadium, in time for the 1998–99 season. Airdrieonians played their home games there until they were liquidated in 2002.

It is arguably this stadium re-location and the difficulties generated by it that was Airdrie's first step towards oblivion. The mismanagement of the entire situation by the club's board, as well as North Lanarkshire Council's lengthy delay in granting planning permission caused Airdrieonians' financial situation to reach critical level. This was not helped by the low attendances at Excelsior Stadium following the completion of the move which, obviously, would be directly related to the quality of football on display - the poor nature of this having much to do with the Diamonds lack funds available to be spent on the team.

Front Entrance to Excelsior Stadium

The minimum stadium capacity for entry into the Scottish Premier League has since been reduced from ten to six thousand following the controversy arising from the Falkirk's 2003 denial of promotion (despite a proposed groundshare of New Broomfield with Airdrieonians re-imbodiment Airdrie United) and the possibility of the situation repeating itself with Inverness Caledonian Thistle the next year. Ironically Falkirk would have been relegated at the end of the 2001–02 season after finishing ninth in the First Division, but their status in this league was preserved because of the demise of Airdrieonians.

Such a change came far too late to benefit Airdrie who had long since gone out of business, due to what could be said was merely an inevitable consequence of their trying to comply with the rules put in place at the time regarding admission to Scotland's top football league, which have since been recognised by the league to be completely unfeasible.

Death of Joey Rowan

Airdrieonians' demise was personified by the sudden and unexpected death of Joey Rowan, the club's sole remaining director. Rowan had a long and intimate association with the club and was son-in-law and advisor to Airdrieonians' long term benefactor Jack Dalziel (recognised by having the main stand named after him). Rowan, already a popular figure with the club's supporters due to his passion, candour and trademark ponytail, gained even more respect by remaining with Airdrieonians and incurring substantial personal losses whilst trying to steer the club away from liquidation despite the fact that the rest of the board had resigned amid finger-pointing and acrimony in an attempt to avoid reproach and financial liabilities. He is considered the club's last great hero for his selfless sacrifice and unyielding loyalty.

Steve Archibald Attempted Takeover

In February 2000, following the decision by the club's board to allow more private investment, Steve Archibald put forth a bid for Airdrieonians Football Club. During the 2000–01 football season Archibald, while constantly at odds with Airdrie liquidators KPMG brought in many foreign players who quickly became popular with the fans. The former Aberdeen, Scotland and Barcelona star's reign at Airdrie came to and end early in 2001 when KPMG terminated their deal with him citing that Archibald had not kept up to date with payment of fees as their reason.

Success in Face of Demise

Apart from Airdrie's prominent record for a club of their size in the Scottish Cup the Diamonds were also notably successful in the Scottish Challenge Cup which they won in both 2000–01 and 2001–02, the two seasons immediately prior to their liquidation. An interesting fact about these victories is that they were achieved under two different chairmen and managers and with radically altered teams. The first triumphant side was made up of Steve Archibald's extremely popular 'Spanish Armada'; the talented set of players Archibald had brought in when he held preferred bidder status for Airdrieonians F.C. whose attacking, entertaining football had steadily won over the New Broomfield crowd. Despite their aforementioned prowess, however, the side performed relatively poorly in the league finishing a disappointing 8th and therefore only narrowly avoiding relegation to the Second Division. Confirming their potential the core of this squad went on, following Steve Archibald's leaving the club, to play for Premier League sides with striker and goalkeeper David Fernández and Javier Sánchez Broto both eventually signing for Celtic while midfielders Jesus Sanjuán and Antonio Calderón went on to play for Kilmarnock

The next year when the club won the competition with Ian McCall's assortment of free transfers, loan signings and the very few players from the previous season who remained at Airdrie beyond Archibald it seemed possible that Airdrie's long run of problems could be reaching their end; The club were chasing promotion and the financial conflict behind the scenes looked liked being resolved, but it was not to be.

Liquidation & Re-Incarnation

The club finally went out of business officially on 1 May 2002 due to its overwhelming debts. The final match played by Airdrieonians Football Club was an away game against Ayr United at Somerset Park. The match was abandoned by the referee after a crossbar was broken during a protest pitch invasion, and was never replayed.


After the club went out of business, local accountant, Jim Ballantyne, attempted to gain entry to the SFL with a team by the name of Airdrie United Football Club, effectively a direct replacement of Airdrieonians (similar to the way that Fiorentina re-established themselves as Florentia Viola following their own collapse under crippling debt). Airdrie United's initial bid for league status was rejected in favour of the application by Gretna, who were then playing in the English Northern Premier League.

In desperation, Ballantyne opted to buy control of Clydebank, another Scottish football club experiencing extreme financial hardship and, with SFL approval, the club's name was changed to Airdrie United, the team relocated to Airdrie and the strip was altered to the famous diamond style of Airdrieonians. Airdrie United are predominantly viewed as a continuation of Airdrieonians, with the majority of the same supporters attending Airdrie United matches and the new club taking up the position of rivals to clubs such as Motherwell, Hamilton Academical, and Partick Thistle who, historically, had had long standing enmity with Airdrieonians Football Club.

The Last Ever Airdrieonians Team

2001–02 Squad Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
England GK Neil Bennett
Scotland GK Allan Ferguson
Republic of Ireland DF Paul Armstrong
Scotland DF Kevin James
Scotland DF Allan McManus
Scotland DF Craig McPherson
Scotland DF Joseph McAlpine
Scotland DF Stuart MacDonald
Scotland DF Sandy Stewart
Scotland DF Tony Smith
England MF Darren Beasley
No. Position Player
Scotland MF Stephen Docherty
Scotland MF Lee Gardner
Scotland MF Neil MacFarlane
Scotland MF Stuart Taylor
Republic of Ireland FW Owen Coyle
Scotland FW Robert Dunn
Scotland FW Colin McDonald
Scotland FW Stephen McKeown
Scotland FW Mark Roberts
Scotland FW Paul Ronald
France FW Jerome Vareille

Honours & Records


relegation about 40 odd times

General Club Records

Record Type Record Additional Information
Most Capped Player Jimmy Crapnell, 9 for Scotland
Most League Points in a Season 60 in Scottish Division Two - 1973–74 (2 points per win)
61 in Scottish First Division - 1994–95 (3 points per win)
Most League Goals by a Player in a Season Hughie Baird, 53 in 1954–55 Season
Record Attendance 24,000
Record Victory 15–1
Record Defeat 1–11
Record Appearances John Martin, 755 between 1980 and 1999

League Record

The Diamonds' Twelve Year League Record

Airdrieoniansleague record.PNG

Red = Scottish Football League Premier Division (before Scottish Premier League)

Yellow = Scottish Football League First Division

Top League Goalscorers

Year Player Goals Scored
2001–02 Republic of Ireland Owen Coyle 23
2000–01 Spain David Fernandez 7
1999–00 Canada Niall Thompson & Scotland Alex Neil 5
1998–99 England Steve Cooper 8
1997–98 Scotland Brian McPhee 12
1996–97 England Steve Cooper, Scotland Paddy Connolly & Scotland Brian McPhee 8
1995–96 Scotland Jim McIntyre 9
1994–95 Scotland Andy Smith 12
1993–94 Scotland Davie Kirkwood 10
1992–93 Republic of Ireland Owen Coyle 9
1991–92 Republic of Ireland Owen Coyle 11
1990–91 Republic of Ireland Owen Coyle 20
1989–90 Republic of Ireland Owen Coyle 10
1988–89 Scotland Kenneth Macdonald 22
1987–88 Scotland David MacCabe 20
1986–87 Scotland David MacCabe 13
1985–86 Scotland John Flood 11
1984–85 Scotland David MacCabe 21
1983–84 Scotland John Flood 11
1982–83 Scotland Blair Millar 12
1981–82 Scotland Sandy Clark 15
1980–81 Scotland Sandy Clark 10
1979–80 Scotland Sandy Clark 22
1978–79 Scotland Sandy Clark 23
1977–78 J. Cairney 22
1976–77 Scotland Derek Whiteford 15
1975–76 Scotland Derek Whiteford 8

Former Staff

Notable former Airdrieonians Football Club staff include:




  • Were the victors in Rangers' greatest ever defeat, having beaten them 10–2 in 1886. They remain the only football club to have scored ten goals against them.
  • Record Scottish League victors, 15–1 against Dundee Wanderers.[2]
  • First Scottish football club to go out of business since Third Lanark in 1967.
  • First club to wear numbers on their shirts.
  • First club to have a game decided with a penalty shoot-out. They beat Nottingham Forest in the Texaco Cup.
  • First penalty in Scotland taken at Broomfield.
  • Oldest school boy competition in the world was held at Broomfield. The trophy can now be seen in the Scottish Football Museum.
  • One of the first clubs to use a bar instead of just two posts.
  • Highest altitude stadium in Scotland.


  1. ^ "Airdrieonians in Norway/Sweden 1925"
  2. ^ Twydell, Dave (1993). Rejected F.C. of Scotland Volume 2:Glasgow & District. pp. 230–239. ISBN 1-874427-30-5. 

External links

Simple English

Airdrieonians F.C.
Full nameAirdrieonians Football Club
GroundExcelsior Stadium,
Airdrie, Lanarkshire
(Capacity 10,171)

Airdrieonians F.C. is a former football club which has played in Scotland.



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