The Sound of Football: Airdrieonians (Andrew)

Every fortnight we cover the best and worst football songs from every club in the UK from our book ‘The Sound Of Football: Every Club, Every Song’. You can buy it here

Airdrieonians (formerly Airdrie United)

Nickname: The Diamonds

Ground: Excelsior Stadium

Stadium Capacity: 10,170

Song: Can’t Help Falling In Love

‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’ has an unusual background. The melody reworks an 18th century love song by Jean-Paul-Égide Martini (1741-1816). What little is known about Martini presents him as a rather odd character: by birth he was Bavarian and was baptized Johann Paul Aegidius Schwarzendorf. He later moved to France and, for some unknown reason, adopted the French version of his first name and changed his surname to the very Italian sounding name of Martini. That’s why ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ is a perfect song for Airdrie, a club that moved and changed its name, and is both one of the oldest and newest clubs in the Scottish football league.

It’s one of the newest clubs because it was formed in 2002. 

It’s among the oldest because it was formed out of the ashes of two other clubs. It succeeded Airdrieonians, a club based in Airdrie, in Lanarkshire, and Clydebank, a club based in the suburbs of Glasgow.

Airdrieonians had a proud 124-year history. This included a three-year period between 1922 and 1925 when the club remained unbeaten at home, a factor which helped it win the Scottish Cup in 1924. But, eighty years later, in 2002, the club was bankrupt after debts spiralled to over £3 million. Airdrieonians was liquidated and the Scottish Football League invited applicants to join the league and replace them.

One of the applicants was Airdrie United, a new club set up to continue Airdrieonians legacy. Despite its link to the town, its bid was unsuccessful, and Gretna in the Scottish Borders was appointed instead. Gretna was the wrong choice. Despite a meteoric rise from the third division to the SPL in successive seasons, at the end of the 2008 SPL season, Gretna’s owner withdrew his financial support, and with fewer than 500 fans, the club could no longer afford to pay its players or its bills. All the club’s staff were made redundant, and the club was relegated to the Third Division before it resigned its place in the SFL in June 2008 and was formally liquidated on 8 August 2008.

While Airdrieonians was liquidated in 2002, another Scottish club had severe financial problems. Clydebank was in administration and Airdrie United spotted an opportunity to buy the club, its membership of the Scottish football league and transfer it to Airdrie to start again. With the blessing of the football league, the transfer was a success and Airdrie United (nee Clydebank) started 2002/2003 in the Second Division.

So, while Airdrie United have started to build a new history for themselves, it also continues the history of Airdrieonians and, in its uninterrupted link to the past, Clydebank too – which give it’s a unique musical legacy. While many players would be proud to have the name of a band emblazoned across their chest, Clydebank’s squad did not. In 1992 the club became the first in the UK to be sponsored by musicians when local band and ‘Love Is All Around’ chart toppers Wet Wet Wet became its official sponsor. That meant ever week players had to run out with Wet Wet Wet emblazoned across their chests. The players were not happy.

With a new Clydebank playing non-league football, Airdrie United has sought to distance itself from Clydebank and reclaim more of Airdrieonians history. In 2013, to reflect the club’s links to the past Airdrie United officially changed its name back to Airdrieonians.

One of the many traditions that has continued from Airdrieonians to Airdrie United and back again is for the fans to sing ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love With You’, a tradition which started in the pubs around Airdrieonians’ previous ground, Broomfield, in the early 80s.

The lyrics are apt. The words portray a tragic and almost cynical view of love, claiming that happiness is temporary and heartache permanent, which in Airdrieonians case almost turned out to be prophetic after facing extinction.

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Sunderland fans sing ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’

Film Friday: Epic 200km Gravel Race (Andrew)

Happy people on bikes. What’s not to like?

Well…

EVERYTHING!

Watch the video and watch the three presenters from website BikeRadar smile their way through the Dirty Reiver 2021 gravel race. Now read my report on the exact same race with almost the exact same bike: Dirty Reiver.

I hate them and their happy faces. I couldn’t sit down for a week!

In Praise of… the Free Haribo from Wiggle (Andrew)

When we used to work in offices it was easy to buy swim/bike/run gear without anyone knowing. A parcel would arrive, it could be opened before you got home, and no one would know that you’ve just bought another pair of trainers.

However, during the pandemic, we no longer get deliveries at work.

Or, to be more accurate, I still get deliveries from work but work has now become my home. And, instead of reception wondering why I get so many round boxes shaped like a tyre, I have my wife asking if I’m getting another delivery instead?

But she’s not complaining about the number of deliveries. She’s desperate for more. That’s because she’s discovered that when the online retailer, Wiggle, sends a parcel, it also includes a wee bag of Haribo sweets.

No sooner do I start to open a parcel before she’s ripping it out of my hands and tearing it open like a lion and a bag of Hula Hoops (assuming lions like Hoops).

“Where it is?” She says.

“What,” I ask.

“You know what,” she says, “the good stuff!”

I think she’s addicted and I think Wiggle know this and that’s why they send a bag of Haribo with each order. They might as well send crack cocaine, it would get the same reaction.

“Where’s my baggy?!”

I tried to search online to see if there was an official reason for why Wiggle includes a bag of sweets but all I could find were complaints.

I’ve never had any problems with missing Haribo, however, having read the comments, I have bought a spare packet, just in case. I would hate to think what would happen if my wife didn’t find a Haribo the next time a parcel arrives.

Scottish Trail Running – Mangersta Stacks

The weather in the Western Isles is very changeable. Sometimes, leaving the house is a gamble. Will it stop raining by the time I get to the place I want to visit?

In the video above you can see when that gamble fails. It was raining when we left the house and the weather was even worse by the time we got to Mangersta. So we had to do it all again the next day.

Mangersta is a beautiful spot on the west coast of the Isle of Lewis. Check out the video to see the cliffs and beach.

Film Friday: Hiking The Length of Skye (Andrew)

There are many, many strange genres on YouTube. If you want to watch someone take new shoes out of a box then just search for “unboxing” and you’ll find a million videos of people taking their trainers out of a box. If you want to watch someone whisper into a microphone then welcome to the world of ASMR and a million videos of people being really, really quiet.

My favourite genre of YouTube video is a bit more specialist. I like the genre known as “Man Goes For A Walk And Then Takes A Photo”. In the UK, photographers like James Popsys and Nigel Danson are great at this – every week they release a video where they walk somewhere and then take a photo. It’s not a complicated plot to follow. Usually, they’ll explain why they’re taking the photo but most of the time, it’s just an excuse to see various mountains and woodlands around the UK.

If you want to get started in this exciting sub-genre of filming then I highly recommend this week’s video: Hiking The Length of Skye by Thomas Heaton. Heaton is a great presenter and filmmaker who, earlier this year, walked the length of Skye while taking photos. To say any more would be to spoil the surprise that… there is no more to it than that. He walks a bit. He takes a photo. He walks some more. But it’s a very enjoyable two part video that shows off Skye’s spectacular scenery.

EZ – PCR Tests (Andrew)

No running this week. Instead a woman is asking: “Big man with the glasses?”

“Yes,” I say.

A big sigh and the woman, who has just taken our PCR COVID tests says, for what seems not the first time. 

“You won’t get your results tonight, you’ll get them within 72 hours.”

We’re in a car park beside Toryglen football pitches. There’s a small tent and a couple of people walking around in yellow hi-viz and face masks. It’s not very clinical.

When we drove drive in. I put on a mask and rolled down the window. 

“Please put it most of the way up,” says the volunteer at the entrance, making sure not to come near our now open window.

I do. 

“Higher,” they say.

I leave an inch. 

“Perfect,” they say before they try to pass through two test kits in plastic bags. The gap is so small and the bags so big that it’s like watching someone try and coax an elephant to limbo.

“If you pull the car up, read the instructions, follow them and then put on your hazard lights to let me know when you’re done.”

It sounds straightforward but in practice it feels like we’re dogging. Or setting up a illicit boxing fight. We’re not the only car in the car park. Nor the only one thinking we need to leave some space between us and the next car meaning that every car is circled, everyone is looking into every other car and every couple of minutes emergency lights flash until a man approaches the window.  

“There is bound to be someone somewhere who’s made the mistake of starting to strip,” I say.

“NWAH, MAAW, NNAHFFFGGHH,” says Mrs TwinBikeRun, who has a cotton bud down her throat.

“That was disgusting,” she says when she takes it out. 

“BAAAWWWWWKKKKK,” I say, retching after touching my tonsils with the bud. 

“Three more times,” says Mrs E. 

“BBOOOOKKKKEEEE, BBAAAWWWK, BBBBAAAARRRFFFF. Done.”

“Now you have to stick up your nose too,” says Mrs E.

“The same end?”

“Yes.”

Now I do feel sick. But I stick my phlegm speckled throat swab up my nostril too and circle it 10 times. “I don’t know if I have COVID but I might get laryngitis of the nostrils,” I say.

“You might get a new friend if you keep those hazards on too,” says Mrs E as someone approaches. A large man with glasses.

“You’ll the results later tonight,” he says as he makes sure we close our plastic bags containing the samples correctly. “Just drop them off on your way out.”

Which we do only to find that we would have got better information if he’d actually been a dogger as the woman at the exit tells us the man with glasses doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

LATER

We don’t get our results but Mrs TwinBikeRun’s parents, who were also pinged and tested at the same time in a different location, receive confirmation that they tested negative.

I text Iain TwinBikeRun to tell him we’re still self-isolating until we hear more. He says: “That’s because it takes longer when you also test positive for syphilis.”

Outdoor Swim Review: Carron Valley – Oct 2021 (Iain)

Check out the video to see what a swim in Carron Valley Reservoir is like.

Ease of Access: https://goo.gl/maps/vkcjfRm5cx6dYWt7A Park at the gate next to the loch. Its 10m to the waterside. 

Water quality: Warm and shallow at the edge of the loch but it can noticeably drop in temperature the further out you get. 

Swim Quality: Excellent. Lots of things to sight against. Water is choppy but that makes it more fun!

Other People: A couple of folk out walking and the odd car/cyclist going by. 

Would I go back: Yes. It’s my default swim location. 

The Sound of Football: AFC Wimbledon (Andrew)

Every fortnight we cover the best and worst football songs from every club in the UK from our book ‘The Sound Of Football: Every Club, Every Song’. You can buy it here

AFC Wimbledon

Nickname: The Dons

Ground: The Cherry Red Records Stadium

Stadium Capacity: 5,339

Song: We Are Wimbledon

‘We Are Wimbledon’ is the perfect song for AFC Wimbledon as, despite being formed in 2002, the club is the proud winners of the 1988 FA Cup. To understand why a club formed in 2002 can claim a trophy from 1988 we need to understand how AFC Wimbledon was formed.

In 2002, the original Dons, Wimbledon FC, was in administration, living out of a rented ground, its stadium long sold, and watched by a handful of fans. The club directors argued the only salvation for the club lay in a fresh direction.

After trying and failing to find a new home in south London, the directors applied to the Football Association to relocate the club to a new stadium in Milton Keynes, 56 miles north. To its fan’s dismay, the FA sanctioned the move; and, in 2003, Wimbledon FC upped sticks to Milton Keynes, changing their name to the MK Dons.

Many Wimbledon fans refused to follow the club to Milton Keynes. Instead they established a new club: AFC Wimbledon.

AFC Wimbledon entered the ninth tier of English football and has steadily climbed through the divisions to reach the Football League. During their rise AFC Wimbledon went 78 matches without losing a game, an English record.

Yet, although formed in 2002, it’s AFC Wimbledon rather than MK Dons who has the right to claim Wimbledon most famous victory: the 1988 FA Cup – and with it the club’s cup final song.

In the 1980’s and 90’s Wimbledon was famous for playing direct football – a long ball, straight to an attacker as fast and as often as necessary to create more chances to score. It wasn’t pretty, neither were the players, but the Dons reputation for direct football meant teams would under-estimate them, believing the players had nothing to offer. Liverpool was one such team.

Liverpool was the dominant team of the 1980s and, in 1988, the club had just been crowned league champions. The FA Cup Final should have been no contest – Liverpool v Wimbledon. There should only have been one outcome. A victory for Liverpool.

Yet, Wimbledon scored first. Liverpool tried to battle back. Liverpool created lots of opportunities, even had a goal disallowed, but they just couldn’t score. It looked like a shock was on the cards until Liverpool was awarded a penalty. But even then, they couldn’t find the back of the net: Liverpool striker John Aldridge’s shot was saved by the Don’s goalkeeper Dave Beasant, making Dave the first keeper to save a penalty in a FA Cup final. Wimbledon went on to win the match and claim an epic upset.

Today, both the final and the song released to celebrate it are ‘owned’ by AFC Wimbledon after The Football Supporter’s Federation refused MK Don’s fan group permission to join the federation unless MK Dons acknowledged that AFC Wimbledon had the real rights to Wimbledon’s history.

‘We Are Wimbledon’ is the perfect song for the new club. Although, when the song was first recorded, fans and players thought it was cheesy, now when the fans belt it out now it becomes a genuine, lump in the throat anthem to power of working as a team. In 2012 it was re-recorded by the Big Blast Band, a band based in a local care centre for people with learning disabilities. The players teamed up with the band and recorded a new version for a local charity. Because that’s what fans of the Dons do – they see it through, determinedly, directly, together, at home, always and forever in South London.

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