Date: 7th December 2015
Last year we lost the great voice of football; James Alexander Gordon, who for decades read the football results with such aplomb. As a wee boy in the 60’s I found some of the names fascinating and often mysterious. Among the many names that resonated from his unique voice were the likes of Barrow, Accrington Stanley, Workington, Bournemouth & Boscome Athletic and Bradford Park Avenue who all drifted in a downward spiral for one reason or another since those halcyon days.
Of course some of these clubs have been reborn and the obvious success being the mighty Cherries of AFC Bournemouth who as I write this have just defeated the current Premiership Champions and Champions League participants Chelsea on their own patch. For the other famous names history has been less kind and many of them peaked 40 or 50 years ago. Some of course such as Accrington Stanley came back to life in a spectacular fashion just as AFC Wimbledon did in more recent times.
I was intrigued by a recent article that talked about the rebirth of a famous old club that I remembered fondly as the big team in Bradford- Park Avenue FC.
I know from personal experience that when clubs hit a crisis or are seen to be in terminal decline as in the case of several of these former English League clubs then the supporters will not let the club die. In Scotland in more recent times we have seen the successful rebirth of Heart of Midlothian and Dunfermline Athletic with the common thread that they had the pain and torment of irresponsible ownership and the subsequent Administration that followed. Both are big clubs who were never going to disappear but needed the power of the community to transform them.
The reality is that both Hearts and The Pars could have been bought by the individuals who made huge contributions to saving them. Thankfully for the long term health of Scottish Football they saw the benefits of community ownership. Other smaller clubs such as Clydebank and Gretna who had very different crisis that took them out of existence had the resolve and fortitude of fans who didn’t want their own little place in football history to die and both have, like Bradford Park Avenue bounced back as supporter owned clubs.
With the opening up of the football pyramid there might just be an opportunity to one day see these clubs back in the league. Of course the most famous later day demise came in 1967 when Third Lanark were liquidated and many thought buried forever. They re-emerged in 2007 first as an under18 side and now as a senior amateur team. Now if Bradford Park Avenue can be reborn then one day the Hi Hi might spring board to bigger and better things as a senior club owned by the community – you just never know.
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