Queens Park
Hampden Park

Ground No. 186
Visited - Sunday 17th May 2009
Result - Queens Park 0-0 Stenhousemuir
Competition - SFL Division Two Play-Offs
Attendance - 854

Hampden Park, the home of Scottish football and renowned throughout the world, but whilst most of its famous moments (of which there are many) have involved Scotland or various other club matches, few have featured the team who call the ground home, that being Queens Park FC.

Founded in 1867, ‘the Spiders’ are the oldest club in Scotland, and at one time were a force to be reckoned with, on a par with the old firm and even making a name for themselves in England by reaching the FA Cup Final in 1884. But whilst the game both north and south of the border developed into the professional sport we know today, Queens remained a resolutely amateur side, their motto reading: Ludere Causa Ludendi - to play for the sake of playing.

Professional clubs have of course overtaken them now, but back at the turn of the 20th century they were arguably the biggest club in the Scottish game, and their ground reflected that. Having played in two previous grounds also called Hampden Park, in 1903 they moved once more, to the ‘third Hampden’, a new site which was to be developed into the largest ground in the world. Competing with both Ibrox and Celtic Park for cup finals and internationals, from being opened with a 44,530 capacity, it was gradually increased until in 1937 famous ground architect Archibald Leitch finally finished his work with the capacity listed as 163,782 (albeit historians generally agree that the record crowd of 149,415 is a more realistic figure). Queens’ own crowds have never quite reached that level, but their record of 95,722 is hardly to be sniffed at, bigger than any club in England has managed, even if the crowd was mostly likely made up predominantly of Rangers fans for whom the game was against. Nowadays, the grounds capacity is far off that figure, reduced to just over a third of what it once was at 52,500, but even that is more than what might have been. With the Spiders having little use for, or indeed the income to keep such a big venue, it was very nearly abandoned in the 1980’s, but the SFA stepped in, and helped rebuild it into its modern form.

I’d been wanting to go for some time, although for which game had left me thinking. It’s not really a ground you can visit only once, with the experience for a full-capacity Scotland match invariably being a long way from the three figure crowds that sit amongst 50,000 empty seats for the Queens Park games. As it was, it turned out that it would be for the Spiders, and their play-off fixture against Stenhousemuir. Whilst most people curse postponements, the bad weather at the start of May had actually ended up doing me a favour. With this game being put back 24 hours, it meant I’d been able to schedule it as part of a double, staying over in Edinburgh on the Saturday to see the final game at City Park. Travelling over to Glasgow early on Sunday morning, then I’d taken the chance to visit Cathkin Park earlier. This was originally the ‘second Hampden’ and lies only a short walk north of the current one, a fantastic monument to grounds of yesteryear, but back to the present day and after making that short walk, the difference between the two is startling. With red brick all around, Hampden looks very modern from the outside, particularly on the South side, but despite that, it does still retain a sense of history, with the traditional Scottish oval shape, which is seen with the two ends curving round. Adjacent to it is Queens' second stadium, Lesser Hampden, used as little more than a training and reserve pitch now, it has hosted league games in the past, so after looking there as well, I also had time to go in the wonderful Scottish Football Museum, which tells a fascinating story of the games history, and really helped get me in the mood for the game later on.

Only the South Stand is open for the league games, but despite fans being able to mix in the concourse, the stewards were operating a segregated section, with the first block sectioned off for Stenny fans. It was here where I ended up, not out of any affinity for the Warriors, but merely because it was the first entrance I’d walked through! Inside, the ground itself is a large bowl, but the South Stand, whilst similar in the lower tier, has a second tier above it, with the roof sloping up as a result. Facilities here are fantastic, the stand reputedly having cost more to build than the rest of the ground put together after a late donation of grants.

As for the game, well the less said the better! Unlike in England, the play-off system in Scotland works slightly differently, with the second bottom team of the division above competing against the 2nd-4th placed teams to avoid relegation. Queens were in the Second Division, but their visitors, Third Division Stenhousemuir had still managed to win the first leg at Ochilview, but with the scores standing at 2-1, then all was to play for.

Both sides looked fairly even, but up front, unfortunately they were both equally as bad as each other. Stenny in particular could have won the game by a clear margin, but chance after chance was hit comically wide when their strikers got into good positions, and so a rather uneventful game played out to a 0-0 finish, with really very little to report on, except for the last 15 minutes where the hosts woke up and seemed to realise that they needed to win, putting the visitors under some late pressure, but much to everyone in the away ends relief, they couldn’t breach the Warriors defence, meaning no extra-time was needed, and I was able to make my way back to central Glasgow in good time for the train home.

Overall, it had been a pretty good weekend of ‘fitba’, even if the second match hadn’t been the most exciting in the world! Whilst you can understand the view of many Scots who dislike the redeveloped Hampden due to its oval ends and low capacity, what you can’t dismiss is its sense of history. The crowd of 854 might have been way off the grounds record, but even so, it’s still a venue worthy of visiting, and hopefully I’ll make my way back one of the days to see Scotland here (a Scotland-England match at Hampden is one of my dream games (hint hint for anyone who has a hope of getting a spare ticket some time in the future!))

Welcome to Hampden

Rear of the West Stand

Rear of the South Stand

The Main Entrance

Rear of the East Stand

Rear of the East Stand

Rear of the North Stand

The West Stand

The North Stand

Floodlights and Flags

The East Stand

The South Stand

Hampden Park Panoramic 1

Hampden Park Panoramic 2


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