2008 Scottish Cup Final
24th May 2008
My final game of the season and the final of the Scottish Cup, the worlds oldest national trophy, first played for back in 1873, this years final brought together old hands Glasgow Rangers against a club making their first ever appearance in their 89 year history; Queen of the South, whose supporters had an extra number amongst their ranks, I lend the Doonhamers my support for my first ever visit the Scotland’s national stadium.
Hampden Park lies in Mount Florida, in the south side of Glasgow, build in 1903 it’s actually the third Hampden Park, both previous grounds were close by, the first was used by Queen’s Park back in 1873 on the site of the present day Hampden Bowling Club, while the second ground was renamed New Cathkin Park and taking over by Third Lanark, found just a goal kick away in Cathcart Road.
Hampden is owned by Queens Park, Scotland’s oldest club (formed in 1867) but it’s more commonly known as home to the Tartan Army and neutral middle ground for battles between the old firm, it also houses the offices of the Scottish FA, Scottish Football League , SPL. and now includes the Scottish Football Museum, opened in May 2001.
When constructed the original capacity was 65,000, meaning the three largest stadiums in the world belonged to Glasgow, the stadium’s capacity peaked in 1937, reaching 150,000, with an attendance just short of a full house against England in that April, and a week later the cup final between Celtic and Aberdeen also made the record books, 147,365 the highest for a club match in Europe.
The arrival of Rio’s 150k capacity Maracanã Stadium in 1950 took Hampden’s title as the worlds largest stadium, but the ground continued to break records, the largest attendance for a friendly played in Britain saw 104,494 for Rangers v Eintracht Frankfurt in October 1961, as well as the biggest attendance in a UEFA competition; the European Cup semi-final between Celtic and Leeds United drew 136,505 in April 1970.
The capacity dropped to 81,000 in 1977 after the introduction of the Safety of Sports Grounds Act, major changes and refurbishment took place through the 1980’s, to the North Stand and East Terrace, until the release of the Taylor Report in 1988, meant redeveloping the stadium to all seated. The stadium’s redevelopment programme took place throughout the 1990s, although there were a few financial problems, the total cost came to £70million, with £22million funded through sponsorship. The ground’s capacity is now 52,500, the reconstruction of the North and East Stands started in 1993, which was followed by the new West and South Stands between 1996 and 1999, the South Stand differs from the other three ends, as there’s an extra tier which overhangs, split into three shelf like sections, there’s also the presentation podium with the team dugout situated within the front of the stand, behind each goal there’s electric scoreboards suspended underneath each roof.
Although the ground is unrecognisable from the once vast bowl of terracing that gave the world the ’Hampden Roar’ the stadium still has the atmosphere and aura of its illustrious past and retains it’s original sunken bowl oval shape. The stadium certainly has that ‘wow’ factor about it, when I entered the ground it took my breath away; it looked fantastic, especially on such a big occasion like today, a near capacity crowd, the pitch looked immaculate, the pre-match atmosphere electric and even the cheerleaders looked terrific…phoarr!!!
My match ticket was in the South Stand, a great seat with a spot on view, special thanks to 100FGC squad no.73 Graham Crofts for making the ticket arrangements, I sat with him and his family and enjoyed the atmosphere amongst the Dumfries community hoping to see a performance that would do their wee town proud. Prior to kick-off there was a minutes applause in tribute to the late Tommy Burns, which was greatly participated by everyone with goals and images of Tommy’s career observed on the big screens.
The game kicked off with Queens hoping to take advantage of Rangers tired legs after their hectic end of season schedule, while the Queens players without a game for four weeks, have been off on their hollipops. An even first half on chances created, with Rangers having the majority of the possession, but found themselves two goals up at the break without really doing that much, their first effort at goal didn’t arrive until 25 minutes when a Beasley shot from the edge of the box could only find the side netting, however the breakthrough came on 33 minutes, a free kick on the edge of the box was touched to Boyd who fired his shot high into the net from 22 yards, then just before half time Rangers doubled their lead, a back post header fell to Beasley who finished well from 12 yards out.
At half time Graham turned to me and said “we’ll do well to get it back to 2-2 now” well they did and it only took eight minutes, first a messy looking goal from Tosh, scrambling the ball home after good play from O’Connor and then minutes later sheer bedlam from the Queens faithful, as skipper Jim Thomson leapt like a salmon to head home a Harris free kick, what a start to the second half, minutes earlier I was hoping that they would at least score a goal to give the Queens fans something to cheer, but here they were level, and as the late great Brian Moore once said “it’s up for grabs now”
After a week of setbacks for Rangers they began to look nervous, as the Dumfries lads began to believe they could be on the verge of making history, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be, again it was Kris Boyd who came to the Gers rescue, heading home in a packed penalty area from a corner kick on 72 minutes to regain the lead. The goal proved the decisive one, it seemed to knock the stuffing out of the Queens players, so after much effort and endeavour it was Rangers who managed to securely see the game out, winning the Scottish Cup for the 32nd time and their first for five years.
My Matchday was planned precisely, trains and bus times all planned with precision, as I left home that morning the last thing the breadknife said was “you know what happens with best laid plans, they don‘t go to plan” as always, of course, she was right.
My day began with the 8.45 to Aberdeen, the train I was taking to Edinburgh arrived over half a hour late, so this naturally had a knock on effect, meaning I missed to 1045 train from the capital to Glasgow, but I did make the 11.15 ok. I then arrived in Glasgow where I took the 31 bus to Mount Florida, again catching the next bus at 12.15, so I finally reached my destination at 12.30, giving me plenty of time before the big kick off.
After a brief look around the stadium, my next port of call was Cathkin Park, the former home of Third Lanark, where I had a look around and took some pictures to put on to the website. I then met up with 100FGC squad no.81 Jamie McQueen, finding him standing at the top of the stairs at the main entrance, doing a bit of celebrity spotting. After meeting up with a couple of this fellow Queens fans we headed off in pursuit of a pre-match drink, but predictably everywhere was full, so in desperation of booze we ended up going to the off-licence for some cans, drinking them behind the offy, taking us back to our teenage years. We were just polishing off our cans when two polis appeared on push bikes, they must have been in a good mood as they ordered us to confiscate the drink, and move on our way letting the four of us off with the £40 on the spot fine for drinking outdoors in public.
My train home was at 6pm to meet the 7pm train from Edinburgh back to Newcastle, these were the only trains I could get home, if I missed the 6’o clock train then I was knackered, meaning either a night in Scotland or having to hitch it home. I boarded the bus to get back to the train station at 5.10pm, but after 20 minutes we only progressed about 20 yards due to the large number of fans walking on the road and stopping the traffic. I looked at my watch it was 5:33, I only had one option and that was to alight the bus and run like the clappers all the way to Queen Street, when I asked the bus driver to let me off and I told him what I planned, he looked at me in disbelief. It’s a good job I’m a seasoned jogger because I did the 2 mile run in 20 minutes arriving at the train station with 5 minutes to spare, by then I was drenched in sweat, red faced and receiving funny looks from everyone, apologies to the lad I sat next to on the train because I must have stunk, I’ve learned to never get a bus in Glasgow again, after a similar incident with Glasgow traffic when I went to St. Mirren.
To rub salt into the wounds the train home from Edinburgh arrived 20 minutes late, it was a nightmare performance from National Express, at least First Scot Rail are reliable, but I suppose on reflection it's all a part of my makes up my matchday adventures and all part of the amusement.
And so my 81st and last game of the season, what a great one to end with, a fantastic stadium, a thrilling game and a great day out, now I need to recharge my batteries and have a football free summer and return for the 2008/09 season, raring to go with more of my ground hopping adventures.
My Pictures from Cathkin Park here.
Ground no.174-Hampden Park - Matchday web album(20 pictures)