Written by: Editor of Only the Lonely, Airdrie's fanzine
Excelsior Stadium in Airdrie, as far as the local team is concerned, excels in name only. It sits anonymous in a world of functional, prefabricated stadia; predicated by knee jerk legislation and policy making two decades ago.
The stadium became the death knell of Airdrieonians, one of Scotland’s oldest clubs, only a year or two after its completion.
Following a period of relative success, the club looked to cement its place in the higher echelons of Scottish football. To do so, it had to adhere to a dictat by the blazers running the game to build a 10,000 seat stadium. Selling their spiritual home, complete with its iconic pavilion, the club hoped to use the proceeds to prepare for the 21st century.
Wrangles with the local authority and several false starts saw the club decamped out of the town, tenants in a Council built stadium in the nearby new town of Cumbernauld. Dwindling crowds meant budget cuts, which led to poorer squads and more excuses for fans to stay away. The money soon began to disappear.
By the time the club eventually moved into its new home, it could barely make ends meet. Battles with the builders, and other creditors, soon started to make headlines. The club was placed into administration and, following a couple of ill-fated attempts to resurrect its fortunes, it was liquidated in 2001. The liquidators said at the time: “They built a Rolls-Royce, when a Mini would have done.”
A resurrected club, borne from the ashes of Clydebank, is now a tenant in the very stadium that killed it. Run as a private enterprise, the stadium just about washes its face – but the football team remains haunted by its impact.
For all matches, except those when the Old Firm circus rolls in to town, only one stand is opened. The fans who still go sit in the draught watching mainly poor football and swathes of empty seats, borne from hubris and bureaucracy.