Football: Hampden Roarsome Once more.(Sport)

Article excerpt

Byline: RAY HEPBURN

HAMPDEN came of age once again on Wednesday evening when the new, trimmer, slimmer but smarter National Stadium contributed to an unforgettable night of European football.

In 1960, the legendary steep slopes of the original stadium were packed with 135,000 fans as Real Madrid beat Eintracht 7-3, in arguably the greatest final of all time.

Sixteen years later Bayern Munich and St Etienne could attract only 54,864 as the Germans won the trophy in a half-empty stadium.

That rather spikes Sir Alex Ferguson's view that the refurbished ground is too small and that 70,000 seats were needed to make Hampden a vital, modern facility.

Despite Bayer Leverkuson returning 3,000 tickets in the week before the game, Scottish fans, including myself, avidly too up the slack to ensure that the match was a sell-out.

In recent years, 47,500 saw Real defeat Juventus in Amsterdam, 49,730 enjoyed Ajax's 1-0 win over AC Milan in Vienna, and 46,00 were present when Aston Villa won in Rotterdam in 1982.

Those were all matches that Hampden could have comfortably contained, and all the evidence from Wednesday's slick show points to further feature matches coming to Scotland.

There have been suggestions that the gradual gradient precludes atmosphere and that viewing is difficult because the slope does not afford the seated fan enough height above the one in front.

Well on Wednesday night I sat wedged between the very faithful and vociferous German supporters and the exuberant Real followers at what should become known as the Zinedine Zidane end.

Access and egress was swift, orderly and well supervised while the pre-match entertainment had the crowd at fever pitch in time for the kick off. …