Football: FAMOUS HAMPDEN LORE; This Hallowe'en Hampden Hits 100 as It Celebrates Its Centenary. the Famous Arena in Mount Florida Is Known throughout the World and Some of the Game's Greatest Players, from Puskas and Pele to Maradona and Zidane, Have Graced Its Turf. Michael Baillie Takes a Walk Down Memory Lane with Hampden Historian Forrest Robertson

The Mirror (London, England), October 25, 2003 | Go to article overview

Football: FAMOUS HAMPDEN LORE; This Hallowe'en Hampden Hits 100 as It Celebrates Its Centenary. the Famous Arena in Mount Florida Is Known throughout the World and Some of the Game's Greatest Players, from Puskas and Pele to Maradona and Zidane, Have Graced Its Turf. Michael Baillie Takes a Walk Down Memory Lane with Hampden Historian Forrest Robertson


Byline: Michael Baillie

ON FRIDAY Hampden will receive its telegram from the Queen as it celebrates its 100th birthday.

For a century the famous ground on Glasgow's south side has served up drama, triumph, tragedy and heart-stopping excitement.

It has hosted some of the most memorable football matches in the history of the game and many of the world's greatest players have graced its stage.

The stadium has been restructured over the years - gone are the vast sweeping terraces, replaced by plastic seats, but the heartbeat remains the same.

Forrest Robertson, editor of The First 100 Years of Hampden, believes the stadium in Mount Florida is the most important in world football.

Robertson said: "It deserves that title, primarily because for 40 years or so it was the biggest football stadium in the world.

"The capacity grew from around 40,000 to its official capacity of over 183,000 in 1937. For that reason alone it's very important.

"But when world football was in its infancy, the Scotland-England game was the biggest in the world and it was getting attendances well into six figures before the First World War.

"So the most important football in the world at the time was played there and that gave it an aura.

"This kept British football, especially Scottish football, at the forefront of the global game.

"People eagerly anticipated the bi-annual Scotland-England game and the cup finals."

During the past 100 years Hampden has been used for musical concerts, speedway, world championship boxing contests and gridiron.

As well as being the home of Scottish football, it is also the home of Queen's Park.

They must have the most impressive stadium of any amateur side in the world.

Queen's Park are synonymous with the ground and it's fitting that the first goal scored there was by a Queen's player, David Wilson, against Celtic.

Robertson added: "It is also a club ground for Queen's Park.

"Other big grounds around the world are not club grounds, whereas Queen's have been playing there every second Saturday.

"So it's maintained in a more couthy fashion as a major football ground.

"Domestically, players from all the other clubs were always playing at Hampden, so it was never an aloof ground like Wembley. It was more homely.

"It is accessible to everyone, you have amateur finals, junior and schoolboy finals played there.

"As a Spiders fan, I would have loved to have been at the first game against Celtic, that would have been special.

"Hampden held the world record for attendances up until the Maracana opened in Rio. The attendance for the 1937 Scotland-England match was given as 149,415.

That is the number which paid to get in, but if you look at photos, all the aisles are full.

"So I reckon there must be another 30,000 inside, it must have been amazing being there."

Robertson has witnessed many phenomenal games at Hampden, but one that sticks out in his mind, like it did for so many Glaswegians, was one he did not attend.

He could only watch on television as Puskas and di Stefano made history, 42 years before Real Madrid returned for another night to remember.

He said: "Hampden staged the great European Cup Final of all time.

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Football: FAMOUS HAMPDEN LORE; This Hallowe'en Hampden Hits 100 as It Celebrates Its Centenary. the Famous Arena in Mount Florida Is Known throughout the World and Some of the Game's Greatest Players, from Puskas and Pele to Maradona and Zidane, Have Graced Its Turf. Michael Baillie Takes a Walk Down Memory Lane with Hampden Historian Forrest Robertson
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