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Last Updated: Friday, 31 October, 2003, 16:28 GMT
Hampden celebrates centenary
Denis Law cuts the Hampden birthday cake
Denis Law believes Hampden struck fear into opponents
Legends of Scottish football and broadcasting have combined to hail Hampden Park as it celebrates 100 years as a record-breaking stadium.

Queen's Park, Scotland's oldest football club, bought 33 acres of land on the south side of Glasgow in 1903 and built the largest and most technically-advanced football ground in the world.

It was quickly adopted as Scotland's national stadium and the 149,415 who officially watched the Scotland versus England clash in 1937 remains the most for any international in Europe.

Days later, 146,433 watched Celtic play Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup final.

Celtic, who lost 1-0 to Queen's Park in Hampden's first-ever game on 31 October 1903, benefited from the backing of 136,505 fans as they defeated Leeds United in the European Cup semi-final of 1970.

Former Scotland striker Denis Law was at Hampden to join in Friday's celebrations and recalled with delight being greeted by the famous "Hampden Roar" during the 1960s and 1970s.

"I think it was every boy's dream to actually not only play for your country but to come and walk out at Hampden Park," he said.

"One of the games that stood out for me was when we played England back in 1962, when I think there were 135,000 people in the stadium.

Real Madrid score against Eintracht Frankfurt in 1960
Hampden played host to one of the finest football matches ever
"It was real nerve racking just to actually stand there so proud to be representing your country in front of such a huge crowd.

"Just to come out at Hampden Park and hear this roar, the opposition team must have been having nightmares."

Scottish Football Museum curator Ged O'Brien pointed out that those official attendances were boosted by spectators gaining entry by unofficial means.

"In the 1930s to 1960s, 185,000 packed legally and illegally into here," he said.

"You are looking at the entire population of Dundee, plus 40,000 more people. It's outstanding."

Scottish football historian and broadcaster Bob Crampsey was born and bred in the shadow of the famous arena.

"I think my overwhelming memories of the place, being a Mount Florida boy, are the enormous crowds that you had at matches before the war," he said.

"Of course, you had literally hundreds of tramcars all around the recreation ground, trains nose to tail and a really tremendous sense of occasion, plus the fact that half the crowd walked out from the town."

That sense of occasion was most notable in 1960, when Hampden hosted arguably the most memorable European Cup final of all, more than 130,000 fans being spellbound by Real Madrid's 7-3 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt.

"It was exactly like a theatre," recalled Crampsey. "The teams came out and did curtain calls and the crowd just would not go away."

Hampden is packed for an international between England and Scotland
England goals were greeted by a ghostly hush at Hampden
Years of neglect and modern-day safety regulations forced a major re-build that saw a new Hampden emerge in the 1990s, with Third Division Queen's Park, the only amateur club remaining in the Scottish Football League, leasing it to the Scottish Football Association.

The cut-price nature of the new 52,000-capacity arena has come in for some criticism, but it remains one of only two stadia in Scotland - the other being Rangers' Ibrox - to be given five-star status by Uefa and hosted the 2002 Champions League final.

Scotland's recent dip in form has seen the Hampden roar reduced to whimper at times, but few would welcome back the wide-open terraces of the old, bowl-shaped arena.

"When you had 139,000 and it poured the whole game, you had 120,000 very drookit souls," added Crampsey.

"I think the Hampden Roar was much exaggerated. I think, in fact, what was more effective was the total and complete and utter silence when England scored a goal."






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