Airdrieonians F.C.

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Airdrieonians
Airdrieonians FC logo.png
Full name Airdrieonians Football Club
Nickname(s) The Diamonds
Founded 2002; 15 years ago (2002) (As Airdrie United)
Ground Excelsior Stadium,
Airdrie, North Lanarkshire
Ground Capacity 10,101[1]
Chairman Jim Ballantyne
Head Coach Vacant
League Scottish League One
2016–17 Scottish League One, 3rd
Website Club home page

Airdrieonians Football Club are a Scottish professional football team based in Airdrie who are members of the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) and play in the SPFL Scottish League One. They were formed in 2002 as Airdrie United Football Club following the liquidation of the original club. The club's official name was changed in 2013 with the approval of the SFA to the traditional name of Airdrieonians. As with the earlier team of the same name, this is often colloquially shortened to simply "Airdrie".

The club have won two trophies in their short history – the Scottish Second Division in 2003–04 and the Challenge Cup in 2008–09. Once described as "the luckiest team in the Scottish League",[2] the club have benefited in league division placements (due to other club's misfortunes) on three occasions (2008, 2009 and 2012).

History[edit]

Formation as Airdrie United[edit]

The club was formed in 2002 as Airdrie United, following the bankruptcy of the original Airdrieonians.[3][4]

Airdrieonians had finished runners-up in the Scottish First Division in the 2001–02 season[5] but went out of business with debts approaching £3 million.[6] The collapse of "The Diamonds", as they were known due to their distinctive kits,[7] created a vacancy in the Scottish Football League (in the Scottish Third Division). Accountant and Airdrieonians fan Jim Ballantyne attempted, with the help of others, to gain entry with a club called "Airdrie United" who were essentially to be a reincarnation of Airdrieonians.[8] Their application however was rejected as the then English Northern Premier League side Gretna were preferred by league members over the new Airdrie United.[9]

Airdrie United then went on to complete a buy-out of the ailing Second Division side Clydebank[10] and with SFL approval the club was relocated to Airdrie,[11] the strips were transformed to resemble that of Airdrieonians, and the name was changed to Airdrie United. While this means that the club is therefore officially a continuation of Clydebank it is almost universally accepted as a reincarnation of Airdrieonians, with Clydebank having been reformed by supporters' groups and entering into the West Region Junior League.[12]

Early years – league title & new manager (2002–2006)[edit]

Managed by Sandy Stewart, Airdrie United's first match took place at New Broomfield[13] against Forfar Athletic in August 2002, with captain[citation needed] Stephen Docherty scoring the only goal of the game with Airdrie United winning 1–0.[14] Their debut season saw the club only narrowly fail to achieve promotion by one point[15] due to a late injury-time goal from Brechin City[16] which saw them promoted instead.[15] The club reached the second round of the Challenge Cup,[17] the third round of the Scottish Cup[17] and the third round of the Scottish League Cup[18] having beaten Premier League side Kilmarnock in the second round.[19]

During the rest of Stewart's tenure the club reached the final of the Challenge Cup in 2003 (losing 2–0 to Inverness Caledonian Thistle),[20] and won the Second Division title in 2003–04 season.[21] Having started poorly Airdrie went on a run that saw them unbeaten in the last 18 games of that season,[22][23] including the final game of the league campaign which saw a crowd of over 5,700[citation needed] at New Broomfield to watch Airdrie defeat Morton 2–0 and lift the League Championship trophy,[24] the club having been confirmed champions the previous week following their 1–0 victory away to Alloa Athletic at Recreation Park.[22]

In November 2006, Stewart was sacked[25] and replaced by former Airdrieonians player and Airdrie United coach Kenny Black, his first management post.[26]

Mixed fortunes – play-offs, cup win & club changes (2006–2013)[edit]

Under Kenny Black the club suffered four successive play-off defeats:

  • In the 2006–07 season as relegation play-off finalists (losing 5–4 on aggregate to Stirling Albion).[27]
  • In the 2007–08 season as promotion play-off finalists (losing 3–0 on aggregate to Clyde).[28] However the enforced relegation of Gretna to the Third Division,[29] after being put into administration,[30] prompted a restructuring of the leagues,and Airdrie were promoted to the First Division as the losing play-off finalists.[31]
  • In the 2008–09 season as relegation play-off finalists (losing 3–2 on aggregate to Second Division runners up Ayr United).[32] Again Airdrie were given a reprieve as the continued uncertainty over the future of Livingston meant that the West Lothian club were relegated to the Third division,[33] so Airdrie were reinstated to the First Division as losing play-off finalists,[34]
  • In the 2009–10 season as relegation play-off semi-finalists (losing 3–1 on aggregate to Brechin City).[35] Unlike the previous two seasons there was no reprieve.[36]

The club won the Challenge Cup in 2008, defeating Ross County 3–2 on penalties after a 2–2 draw,[37] and after this success manager Kenny Black signed a long term contract (until 2012).[citation needed]

After big financial cutbacks saw all players released in May 2010,[38] it was announced the club would be operating on a part-time basis.[39] In June manager Kenny Black was relieved of his duties,[40] with Jimmy Boyle appointed interim manager.[40] Boyle was appointed manager on a permanent basis in September 2010,[41] with the contract running until the end of season 2011–2012,[42] and extended for 2 years from 2012.[citation needed] The club's decision to focus on developing youth was vindicated in January 2011, as Celtic signed teenager Tony Watt for a sum of £80,000 plus add-ons.[43]

The first league game between Airdrie United and local rivals Albion Rovers[citation needed] took place at New Broomfield on 10 September 2011, with Airdrie winning 4–0.[44] After another play-off defeat by 6–2 on aggregate to Dumbarton in the promotion play-off final at the end of 2011–12 season[45] Airdrie were lucky again as the liquidation of Scottish Premier League side Rangers[46] and the decision by Scottish Football League clubs that Rangers should play in the Scottish Third Division,[47] meant that an additional team from each tier of Scottish football was promoted for the 2012–13 season.[48] As Airdrie were runners up in the previous season's Second Division promotion play-offs, they were promoted to the Scottish First Division.[48] A season in the First Division came to an end in May 2013, with the club finishing bottom of the league and relegated to Division Two.[49]

Airdrieonians name returns (2013–2015)[edit]

In June 2013, the club officially changed its name from Airdrie United Football Club to Airdrieonians Football Club.[4] The name change revived the name of the club it was formed to replace in 2002, following the liquidation of the original Airdrieonians.[50] The Airdrieonians all red club crest was also revived,[51][52] with an alternate black and red version used for the away kits.[53]

With a poor start to 2013–14 season and the club sitting bottom of the table, manager Jimmy Boyle was relieved of his position in October 2013 and replaced by Gary Bollan. His contract was extended until May 2016 and the club finished 2014–15 season in 5th position.

New ownership at the club (2015–present)[edit]

In June 2015 Jim Ballantyne sold control of the club to Tom Wotherspoon, a Lanarkshire businessman and owner of M & H Logistics (who had previously sponsored Hamilton Academical, East Fife and BSC Glasgow). Wotherspoon became Chairman and Ballantyne Vice-Chairman.[54]

The club made numerous additions to the first team squad during July and appointed former Scottish Sun newspaper Head of Sport Iain King as Chief Executive (King left the club in June 2016). At a meeting with fans Wotherspoon outlined his long term plans for the club including a commitment to youth and the return to full-time football should the club gain promotion to the SPFL Championship. In September 2015 the club appointed Eddie Wolecki Black from Edusport Academy as the new Youth Academy Director of Coaching. Manager Gary Bollan departed the club in December 2015, with Wolecki Black taking charge of the side a day later beginning a two-and-a-half year deal.[55]

Chairman Tom Wotherspoon announced to the media in January 2016 that the club would be returning to full-time football in the summer of 2016 (irrespective of the division they would be playing in) and would be using The Ravenscraig Regional Sports Facility in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire as a training base until at least mid-2019.

In March 2016, Airdrieonians manager Eddie Wolecki Black suffered a stroke during a match against Scottish League One opponents Cowdenbeath. In order to allow Wolecki Black time to recover from his illness, Danny Lennon was appointed as acting head coach of the club until the end of the 2015–16 season, with Kevin McBride then appointed to this role during the close season. During October 2016, former Raith Rovers and Ayr Utd manager Gordon Dalziel was appointed as a club advisor on footballing matters. McBride departed the club on 30 October 2016 and the following day, Dalziel was subsequently appointed Director of football, with Mark Wilson appointed as Head coach. At the same time, the club announced that Eddie Wolecki Black would not be returning to the club, with the former coach featured in the press during November 2016 saying he was suing the club for loss of income.

In December 2016 the Airdrieonians Supporters Trust became the first fans group in the world to sponsor their team's home kit, with the strip paying tribute to Airdrie fan Mark Allison.

Despite retaining his majority shareholding Tom Wotherspoon resigned as chairman and director of Airdrieonians on 5 June 2017, with former chairman Jim Ballantyne taking Wotherspoon's place as chairman.[56] Shortly after, Mark Wilson left the club by mutual consent.[57]

Stadium[edit]

Excelsior Stadium, home of Airdrieonians

Airdrie play their home fixtures at Excelsior Stadium, also unofficially known as New Broomfield.[58] The ground was built when now defunct Airdrieonians' previous home, Broomfield Park, was sold to supermarket chain Safeway, who were given permission to build a new store on the site.[59] This transaction has been cited as being the cause of the financial ruination of the club, as their old ground was demolished several years before they acquired planning permission for the new stadium. In the intervening years the club ground-shared Broadwood Stadium, in Cumbernauld, the home of Clyde.

The ground is owned by Broomfield Stadium Ltd, previously Excelsior Stadium Ltd,[60] who rent the stadium to Airdrie.[61]

It has an all-seated capacity of 10,101[1] and at the end of the 2009–10 season, a new 3G artificial surface was installed.[62]

In 2003 a ground share was proposed with Falkirk as their ground did not meet SPL requirements,[63] this was later refused as Falkirk could not prove the SPL fixtures would have priority.[64] Queen of the South played their Uefa Cup tie in 2008 [65] at the stadium, as did Motherwell in 2009.[66]

Queen's Park utilised the stadium for their "home" games from December 2013, due to the redevelopment of Hampden Park, Glasgow for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Colours and crest[edit]

Colours[edit]

Airdrie United inherited Airdrieonians' distinctive playing colours of a white shirt with a red diamond. The design was the basis of Airdrieonians' nickname, The Diamonds, which has also been adopted by Airdrie FC.[citation needed]

Crest[edit]

Club badge
Variation of club crest, used primarily on alternative kits
The club badge of AFC, used for 26 years by the old club and three by the revival, was declared illegal in 2015.

When Airdrie United were formed, they used a blue double-headed eagle device on a white shield for their badge, with a red scroll below the shield that read "Airdrie United F.C.", amended to bearing "Airdrie F.C." when the club rebranded in 2012.[67] The eagle recalled the Airdrie town arms.[67]

When the club inherited the Airdrieonians name in 2013, they also restored the badge worn by their predecessors:[67] the original AFC bore this emblem from 1974 until their demise in 2002, excepting the 2000–01 season.[68] This badge featured a cockerel sitting atop a shield containing two lions passant and the club's initials. The club were informed by the Lord Lyon King of Arms in March 2015 that as their badge features a shield, it constitutes a heraldic device, and heraldic devices are not permitted to carry lettering.[69] On 19 June 2015, Airdrieonians unveiled a new crest, removing the shield and instead using a chevron–representing the "Airdrie Diamond"–to separate the scroll from the remainder of the badge.[70]

Current squad[edit]

As of 14 June 2017[71][72]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
Scotland GK Rohan Ferguson
Scotland GK Matthew Kerr
Scotland GK Callum Kinvig
Scotland DF Conor Bell
Scotland DF Dean Cairns
Scotland DF Marc Fitzpatrick (captain)
Republic of Ireland DF Joe Gorman
Scotland DF John Higgins
Scotland DF Kieran MacDonald
Scotland DF Arran Ross
Scotland DF Scott Stewart
Scotland DF Craig Truesdale
Scotland MF Adam Brown
No. Position Player
Scotland MF Ryan Conroy
Scotland MF Calvin Cowie
Scotland MF Robbie Leighton
Scotland MF Jack Leitch
Scotland MF Murray Loudon
Scotland MF Sean McIntosh
Scotland MF Conor McLaughlin
Scotland FW Jordan Duncan
Scotland FW Ciaran Reilly
Scotland FW Cammy Russell
Scotland FW Andy Ryan
Scotland FW Scott Thomson


Club officials[edit]

Managers[edit]

Coaching staff[edit]

  • Head Coach: Vacant
  • Assistant Coach: Donald Jennow
  • Physiotherapists: Michael McLaughlan, Kirsty Hughes

Non-playing staff[edit]

Backroom staff[edit]

  • Kitman: Jim Frame
  • Youth Team Co-Ordinator: Neil Johnston

Club honours & records[edit]

Honours[edit]

Records[edit]

Record type Record Additional information
Most league points in a season 70 in Second Division 2003–04[81]
Most league goals by a player in season 21, Ryan Donnelly in Second Division 2011–12[citation needed]
Record total league appearances 159, Stephen McKeown[citation needed]
Record total league goals 34, Stephen McKeown[citation needed]
Record home attendance 9,044 v Rangers on 23 August 2013 in Scottish League 1
Record wins 11–0 & 7–0 v Gala Fairydean on 19 November 2011 in Scottish Cup 3rd Round[82] & v Dundee on 11 March 2006 in Division One
Record loss 0–7 v Partick Thistle on 20 October 2012 in Division One[83]

Club statistics[edit]

League performance[edit]

2017–18 SPFL League One:-

SFL Division One:- Highest - 5th (2004–05), 6th (2005–06), 9th (2008–09, Defeated in play-off final but maintained Division One status due to the demotion of Livingston), 9th (2009–10, Relegated to Division Two after defeat in play-offs), 9th (2006–07, Relegated to Division Two after defeat in play-offs), 10th (2012–13, Relegated to SFL Division Two/SPFL League One).

SPFL League One (known as SFL Division 2 until 2013):- Highest - 1st (2003–04, Promoted to Division One as Champions), 2nd (2007–08, defeated in play-off final but secured promotion to Division One due to the demise of Gretna), 3rd (2016-17, defeated in play-off semi-final), 3rd (2002–03), 4th (2011–12, defeated in play-off final but secured promotion to Division One due to the demotion of Rangers), 5th (2015–16), 5th (2014–15), 6th (2013–14), 6th (2010–11).

Top league goalscorers[edit]

2017–18 SPFL League One:-

Andy Ryan (25 goals - 2016-17, SPFL League One), Ryan Donnelly (21 goals – 2011–12, SFL Div. 2), Allan Russell (19 – 2007–08, SFL Div. 2), Iain Russell (18 - 2016-17, SPFL League One), Jerome Vareille (18 – 02-03, SFL Div. 2), Bryan Prunty (15 – 2005–06, SFL Div. 1 & 14 – 2014–15, SPFL League One), Owen Coyle (14 – 2004–05, SFL Div. 1 & 13 – 2003–04, SFL Div. 2), John Baird (11 – 2009–10, SFL Div. 1), Jim Lister (10 – 2013–14, SPFL League One & 9 – 2014–15, SPFL League One & 8 – 2015–16, SPFL League One), John Boyle (10 – 2012–13, SFL Div. 1), Simon Lynch (10 – 2008–09, SFL Div. 1), Gary Twigg (10 – 2006–07, SFL Div. 1), Scott Gemmill (9 – 2010–11, SFL Div. 2).

Attendances[edit]

2017–18 SPFL League One:-

SFL Division 1:- Highest – 3465 (p) (v Stirling Albion, 12 May 2007), 3303 (p) (v Ayr United, 24 May 2009), 3245 (v Falkirk, 30 October 2004). Average – 1923 (2004–05), 1437 (2008–09), 1351 (2006–07), 1349 (2005–06), 1085 (2009–10), 936 (2012–13).

SPFL League One (known as SFL Division 2 until 2013):- Highest – 9044 (v Rangers, 23 August 2013), 6522 (v Rangers, 2 January 2014), 5709 (v Morton, 15 May 2004). Average – 1862 (2003–04), 1592 (2013–14), 1439 (2002–03), 1081 (2007–08), 989 (2011–12), 861 (2015–16), 850 (2016-17), 830 (2014–15), 789 (2010–11).

First home league game as Airdrie United FC:- 2285 (v Forfar Athletic, SFL Div. 2, 3 August 2002)

Highest league:- 9044 (v Rangers, SPFL League One, 23 August 2013)

(p) Denotes play-off match. Average figures include play-offs.

Scottish Cup:- Highest – 5924 (v Motherwell, 6 January 2007), 3557 (v Dundee, February 2006), 3258 (v Kilmarnock, 28 January 2008).

League Cup:- Highest – 7006 (v Rangers, 26 August 2015).

Official club awards[edit]

Player of the Year[edit]

Season Senior Player of the Year Young Player of the Year
2014–15 Paddy Boyle Luca Gasparotto
2013–14 Jim Lister Liam Watt
2012–13 John Boyle Chris O'Neil
2010–11 Ryan McCord Jamie Bain
2008–09 Stephen Robertson Bobby Donnelly
2007–08 Allan Russell Kevin Watt
2006–07 Neil McGowan Stephen McKenna
2005–06 Bryan Prunty Steven McDougall
2004–05 Marvyn Wilson Stephen McKenna
2003–04 David Dunn Willie McLaren
2002–03 Jérôme Vareille Stephen McKeown

Hall of Fame[edit]

Evan Balfour, Drew Busby, Antonio Calderon, Jimmy Conner, Steve Cooper, Jimmy Crapnell, Stephen Docherty, Paul Jack, Jackie Keenan, Walter Kidd, John Lapsley, Alan Lawrence, Lawrie Leslie, Alex MacDonald, Willie McCulloch, Brian McKeown, Stephen McKeown, Frank O'Rourke, Jimmy Reid, John Reid, Jimmy Sandison, Andy Smith, Bobby Watson, Jimmy Welch, Billy Wilson.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]