Ferguson may back Hampden being retained but the fans and their experiences are more important than a memory of a game from the 1960s.
I read with interest the comments from Sir Alex Ferguson and his backing of Hampden Park to remain as the national stadium, sadly for most fans in Scottish football we do not have the privilege to sit in VIP seating nor wined and dined in the hospitality section as the former Manchester United manager receives when he attends a game now.
Ferguson may back calls to remain at Hampden Park through sentimentality and some perceived notion that our footballing history would disappear if we turned our back on the white elephant in Mount Florida.
Speaking to the Daily Record, He said: “This is about more than money. We’re talking about leaving your history behind you.
“It’s as simple as this, if the SFA move games to Edinburgh they would have to pull Hampden down as there’s no chance Queen’s Park could keep it going.
“Every brick you take away is a goal, a memory or a shot that hit the post or bar. Hampden is the centre of football.
“As a young player you always hoped to play at Hampden, always wanted to turn out for your country there. I didn’t manage that but many people grew up to fulfil that dream.
“The history of Hampden is riddled with fantastic games and that’s the point. You’re throwing away all that fantastic history, all those memories.
“These are memories people live with, ‘Remember that time we went to Hampden?’ That finishes. The minute you leave Hampden, that stops.
“In future, kids will never have a memory of Hampden and that’s the type of history you are throwing away and I don’t think that should happen at all.”
As a kid I dreamed of scoring the winning goal in a derby match, in the final minute of a cup final or for Scotland in the World Cup. As a kid growing up in the 1980s, Hampden was a different monster to the one that is there today. Those responsible for the renovation of Hampden in 1999 had the perfect opportunity to rid themselves of the oval bowl design and square it off as most modern stadiums are designed nowadays to improve the atmosphere and the fan experience.
However, sentiment and history got in the way back then and fans are suffering today for that lack of innovation, modernisation and foresight.
The stands running parallel to the pitch have decent views of the pitch, but if you sit behind the goals in the East or West Stand then your experience and view is diminished quite significantly. In fact, my experiences of sitting behind the goals was that the view wasn’t worth the cost of a well done Pie let alone the prices the Scottish FA charge for games.
I fully understand that the track running around the pitch was there for athletics and that Hampden is used for other events outwith football, but the decision to remain at or leave Hampden is a football decision and the likes of U2 playing at it or an athletics being held is irrelevant.
History is worthless when you can’t sell half the stadium out
If sentimentality and history are the only reasons to remain at Hampden then Ferguson is fighting a losing battle. Clubs across the world and even national teams turn their back on their ‘spiritual homes’ and the history built up for a plethora of reasons, but more often than not it is about money and modernisation of facilities.
Ferguson waxes lyrical about the history and sentimentality but that counts for nothing when you struggle to sell half the stadium for a game against the likes of Costa Rica etc. Friday’s game against Costa Rica saw around 20,000 fans make the journey to the national stadium to watch Scotland play a side that reached the quarter finals in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and are World Cup bound this year – and that isn’t the first time it has happened both at club and country level.
If Ferguson gets all teary eyed at the thought of his memories of games disappearing because a concrete breeze blocked stadium is knocked down then he could simply go to the football museum that could be retained. That is why we have football museums in the first place isn’t it? To reminisce about the good old days and to retain the history and experiences of past glories etc.
Ferguson’s scaremongering is laughable
His claims that Queen’s Park would ‘definitely die’ if Hampden was ditched is as laughable as the Scottish FA’s managerial search for Gordon Strachan’s replacement.
He claimed: “Queen’s Park will definitely die if Scottish football loses Hampden and their contribution to football has been tremendous, not just because they’ve been part of the game for over 150 years.
“They’ve also kept a club in the principle of what they believe in, of amateurs playing football for the love of it. That’s a fantastic history for any club, to go right through from 1867 playing against Rangers and Celtic and different teams at different times, but always being there – and they’re still there.”
I’m sorry but can football clubs die? I thought it was only companies that died or so we are told by certain elements.
Queen’s Park would not die if Scottish Football ditched Hampden as the national stadium. They could simply move their games to Lesser Hampden and upgrade some of its facilities to cope with the fans that attend their games – numbering a few hundred depending on what opposition they face. After all a club the size of Queen’s Park playing at Hampden Park is a fallacy.
The Spiders have an illustrious history and will forever be remembered for their part in shaping Scottish football, but when they play in a near empty 50,000 seater stadium, it must remind their fans as well as officials that they are a club who pull in less crowds than some Junior clubs attract on matchdays.
Lesser Hampden’s pitch and facilities is far more fitting for an amateur/part time club the size of Queen’s Park. Again it is sentimentality and history that sees the Spiders continue playing at Hampden – with all respect to the club.
Ferguson’s comment about the West of Scotland being the heartbeat of the national game is derogatory to the rest of the country as many members of the Tartan Army come from outwith the central belt, and there is a feeling that our game is focused far too heavily in favour of Glasgow because of Celtic and Rangers – which has bred resentment towards the football authorities, clubs and even the media who drool at the feet of the Glasgow sides to keep their dwindling papers alive.
Murrayfield isn’t the answer either
Don’t take my criticism and dissection of Ferguson’s comments as support for moving to Murrayfield as that is not suited for football either and has a larger capacity than Hampden. I would back our games touring around the country based on who would be playing on match days.
Friday’s game against Costa Rica could have been played at Easter Road, Tynecastle or Pittodrie – without the need to hand thousands of tickets out to schools to help fill seats. But when a game comes along that is against top level opposition like England, Brazil, Argentina or Germany then the likes of Celtic Park or Ibrox would be more fitting – with the experience and fan experience significantly better than at Hampden.
Far too many people are getting all teary eyed about games from yesteryear when discussing Hampden being retained, not once have they looked at it from the fan viewpoint.
When was the last time a David Tanner or an Alex Ferguson sat with the fans behind the goals? It might be a great view and experience in the plush seats but for those who actually pay into the games Hampden is a breeze block monstrosity that is hindering Scotland more than it benefits us.
Ferguson highlighted the Hibs fans signing Sunshine on Leith at the Scottish Cup Final in 2016 when they beat Rangers, he claims that Hampden made it extra special. I have to disagree, Hibs waiting a century to win the Scottish Cup Final and the way they won it made that experience extra special not the venue – after all it was half empty by the time Hibs lifted the trophy.
If the Scottish FA do decide to retain Hampden in all their ‘wisdom’ then there must be further redevelopment of the stadium – primarily bringing the stands closer to the pitch, ditching the athletics track and improving on the transportation and other facilities inside and around the ground.
Fans are the life blood of the game, but it seems that retaining memories is more important than the fans [and their experiences] paying through the turnstiles nowadays for at least one person who gets his VIP tickets for free.