Thursday, 28 July 2011

Queens Park - Hampden Park

8th January 2000

Queens Park 1-2 Berwick Rangers

What can you say about Hampden Park?  Other than it used to be Great…..but now it is rather less so.  It is often forgotten that prior to the building of the Maracana for the 1950 World Cup in Brazil, Hampden Park was the largest football ground in the world.  Before the 1950 World Cup Final itself, Hampden held the record for the largest attendance at a football match anywhere, ever: 149,547 for Scotland v England in 1937.  Equally impressive are the records the ground still holds:

Highest for a club match in Europe (146,400 for Aberdeen v Celtic in 1937)

Highest for a UEFA club competition (133,500 for Celtic v Leeds in 1970)

Highest for a European Nations Cup match (134,000 for Scotland v England in 1968).

Now it is a pale shadow of itself.

My first experience of Hampden Park was the 1972 Scottish Cup Final between Celtic and Hibs, on an organised school trip (quite bizarre really, given I attended a non-denominational i.e. “Proddy” school, and these were two of Scotland’s, shall we say, least Proddy outfits).  There were over 106,000 at that match, and I can clearly remember being almost overwhelmed by the sheer mass of humanity gathered together in the one place: an absolute sea of bodies – all the more striking for both sets of supporters sporting green. 

But as safety concerns gradually whittled away at the permitted capacity at the ground, allied with the development of Ibrox Stadium and, later Celtic Park, many folks began to view Hampden as at best a luxury, and at worse superfluous.  Did we really need this third large stadium in Glasgow, used maybe half a dozen times a year for cup finals and internationals, whilst every second Saturday the anachronistic amateurs Queens Park use it to play to a few hundred souls?  Jock Stein used to insist Glasgow needed “This neutral acre”, which was perhaps true, and no-one really came up with a satisfactory alternative to where Old Firm cup finals would be played in any non-Hampden future.


When the debate regarding redevelopment of the ground began once more in the early 1990s, the two obvious solutions were either to accept the ground had fallen irretrievably behind both Celtic Park and Ibrox and not to throw any more cash at it, or to flatten the ground completely and build a new one with a capacity beyond that of either of the Old Firms’ homes – Scottish Football’s very own Murrayfield, in fact.  Instead a cobbled compromise was reached, and what we got was a 52,000 seater stadium built on top of the old terracing bowl, with all the associated poor sightlines and distance from the pitch that entails.  Nowadays it really is a shite place to watch football, it pains me to say.



My first view of the redeveloped Hampden Park was this Scottish Cup tie in January 2000 between Queens Park and Berwick Rangers – a Scotland v England clash of sorts.  Although I did not really think of it as such, until a group of visiting fans unfurled their Cross of St George flag and spread it out across a few rows of seats, symbolically, I suppose, claiming that wee bit of Scotland for England.  This was met by an aggressive if slightly silly chant of “We won the last geme at Wembley!” – a reference to Scotland recent 1-0 win (but, ultimate defeat on aggregate) at a Euro 2000 play off match – this to be the final England v Scotland encounter before the old stadium was pulled down. 

The spoils in the Auld Enemy encounter this afternoon went to the English, although I seriously doubt if many of the Berwick squad resided outside Scotland’s Central Belt.  Frankie CARROLL’s left foot put the home side one up after only 3 minutes, with Lloyd HADDOW equalising for Berwick from the penalty spot just before the break.  The Spiders (love that nickname) looked the likelier lot during the second spell, but with 7 minutes remaining Craig FINDLAY out-muscled his marker Denis Connaghan to score the winner past home ‘keeper Neil Inglis.  


Lloyd Haddow's equaliser.


The rain falls hard on a humdrum town.


Time up on Queens Park's Scottish Cup aspirations for another year. 


Panorama of Hampden Park, Glasgow.

*************************************************************

2012 Olympic Games

26th July 2012



The attendance was rather sparse for the opening of Honduras v Morocco.


Can you tell the difference between the North Korean and South Korean flags?


Spectacular David de Gea save.


Japan threaten the Spanish goal, yet again.


The attendance once the Japan v Spain game commenced, had
swollen to rather more than respectable 37,500 - although
I did occasionally wonder if was not in the
minority in having actually paid for our tickets.



     

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