GLOBAL pop superstar Ed Sheeran’s decision to become Ipswich Town FC’s shirt sponsor has made headlines around the world…but as with so many aspects of modern life, it was Clydebank that led the way.

It was announced on Thursday that the singer has agreed an initial one-year deal to sponsor shirts for the Portman Road club’s men’s and women’s first teams.

Sheeran, who is a lifelong fan of the English League One club, grew up in Framlington in Suffolk, just outside Ipswich, and still lives nearby.

But for Bankies of a certain age it all brings back memories of the day when the town’s very own global music superstars went back to their roots by putting their name on the jerseys of the town’s footballers.

Graeme Clark, Tommy Cunningham, Neil Mitchell and Mark McLachlan – the last better known to the world as Marti Pellow – had already had a string of Top 10 hits in the late 80s and early 90s before they decided, in 1993, to give a boost to the fortunes of Clydebank FC by sponsoring the jerseys of their home town football club.

Fans at a Wet Wet Wet gig in Glasgow back in 1988

Fans at a Wet Wet Wet gig in Glasgow back in 1988

In those days the Bankies, though their top flight days were behind them, were still a force in the second tier of Scottish football.

Just a few months before the Wets’ sponsorship deal – which also saw three advertising placards, each bearing the single word ‘Wet’, affixed to the three floodlight pylons on the north terrace of the club’s New Kilbowie Park ground – was announced, they’d reached the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup, losing 4-3 at home to Aberdeen in a rain-soaked replay after a 1-1 draw at Pittodrie.

But from the mid-90s onwards things went into steep decline for the Bankies, from the moment their owners, Jack and Charlie Steedman, sold Kilbowie without having planning permission for a new ground to replace it.

After plans for a stadium near Great Western Road were knocked back, the club spent six unhappy years ground-sharing with Dumbarton at Boghead and then at Morton’s Cappielow Park in Greenock, being watched by an ever smaller handful of loyal supporters.

Bizarre plans to relocate the club, first to Galashiels and then to Dublin, followed, before the club’s few remaining assets – and, crucially, their Scottish League place – were bought by a group of Airdrie businessmen, and the club was moved lock, stock and barrel to North Lanarkshire in 2002 under the name Airdrie United.

Former Wet Wet Wet frontman Marti Pellow

Former Wet Wet Wet frontman Marti Pellow

The following year, though, a new Clydebank FC was relaunched in the junior ranks of Scottish football – and just a few weeks ago the club received news that its application to become a full Scottish FA member club had been successful, with final ratification due at the governing body’s annual meeting next month.

For the Wets, too, the mid-1990s would prove to be a high point in their fortunes.

Their biggest hit, a cover of The Troggs’ Love Is All Around, spent 15 weeks at the top of the charts in 1994 after featuring on the soundtrack of Four Weddings And A Funeral, and featured on their sixth studio album, Picture This, released a year later.

Album number seven, Ten, followed in 1997 – but things turned sour after a tour in support of that album, with drummer Cunningham leaving, followed two years later by Pellow, who quit to focus on kicking his addictions to alcohol and drugs.

We spoke to the band in May 2012 ahead of their first live performance for five years

We spoke to the band in May 2012 ahead of their first live performance for five years

They reformed in 2004 and released a Greatest Hits album later that year, and an eighth studio album, Timeless, followed in 2007.

They played their first concert in more than five years on Glasgow Green in July 2012, celebrating 25 years since the launch of their debut album, Popped In, Souled Out.

Pellow left the band in 2017 to focus on his solo career, and was replaced the following year by Kevin Simm, formerly of Liberty X. The Journey, their first studio album since 2007, is slated for release later this year.

Other music/football link-ups over the years include the Super Furry Animals, whose name appeared on Cardiff City's jerseys in 1999; Bad Manners and The Libertines, who both gave their backing to Southern League Margate; and Fatboy Slim, otherwise known as Norman Cook, a long-standing fan of Brighton and Hove Albion, whose Skint Records label backed the Seagulls, also in 1999.

Possibly the most unusual partnership of them all was formed in 2006, when the Greenbank Under-10s B team in Lincoln secured the backing of Motorhead through the long-standing friendship between frontman Lemmy and team manager Gary Weight.