It is very Scottish football when the suggestion of change is brought about we inevitably do what we’ve always done. If there is any change, usually it’s simply going back to something we did in the past, i.e. the League Cup sections.
The decision was made by the SFA this week for the National Stadium status to remain at Hampden for the price of £5M. From 2020, the SFA will own the stadium and Queen’s Park will move permanently to Lesser Hampden. Good news for Queen’s Park, this deal will keep them going, but for the rest of Scottish football? I don’t think so.
Hampden is a terrible stadium to watch football in. I could just end this article right here because really that’s all that needs to be said. Anyone who has ever sat behind the goals at Hampden will know if the ball is up the other end of the pitch you may as well not be there. I can only imagine the feeling of pointlessness when you’ve paid £30+ to get a ticket and find out you’re in the front row behind the goals.
I’ve even sat in decent seats at Hampden and had crap views. The 2011 League Cup Final, I was sitting at the side of the park about half way up. When Jelavic scored the winning goal I never saw the ball cross the line and just had to go by the reaction of the players and the crowd. Forty quid, standing up at a seat on the side of the park and I still never saw the winning goal go in.
There has been a lot of bleeding heart journalists coming out telling us how we’d be spitting in the face of history by moving from Hampden. What I like to call the “Won’t someone please think of the children” argument. I’ll admit it, the history aspect is a plus point in Hampden’s favour, the only one in my opinion. It is also easier to wax lyrically about the historical aspects of the ground when you don’t need to pay the extortionate prices to not see half the game.
Even so, I’ve sat in the press box at Hampden for a Queen’s Park game, the view is ok. Honestly, it’s fine but not much more than that. In terms of the view you normally get in press boxes, easily one of the worst I’ve sat in. One of the benefits of sitting in a press box is you get an elevated view, not at Hampden. The view from the Hampden press box is about the same as sitting near the back of the Govan Front at Ibrox. Fine, decent, still one of the best seats in the ground but not ideal when you’re wanting a bigger picture of the pitch in order to write a report.
The atmosphere is usually poor and muffled as all the noise escapes up and out the stadium into a void of nothingness. My biggest pet hate for the stadium however is that fucking running track. The best thing I’ve saw written about Hampden this week was someone on my Twitter who pointed out that the running track isn’t actually a running track. When we needed a running track at Hampden, for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, we had to stop playing football there so work could be done to bring in an elevated track. So it’s a ground that is neither fit for football or athletics. So why in the name of Christ is there a track, that can’t be used for anything, that keeps you miles away from the pitch!
The negatives around moving to Murrayfield have been flimsy at best. My favourite, or least favourite, has been that an Old Firm game at Murrayfield would be a bloodbath. Why? For these games, fans travel from all over Scotland, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, England and even further a field so I don’t see how moving the game an hour down the M8 is going to make much of a difference. These games are always heavily policed and segregated. If Police Scotland are able to do their job without crushing people then we should be fine.
As it is, we will be staying at Hampden for the foreseeable future. The head of Scottish Rugby, Dominic McKay, described the decision as a once in generation opportunity that has not been taken.
There has been whispers of Hampden being redeveloped, which it badly needs. However, I’m doubtful that the SFA have the necessary resources to do so when they required a £2.5M gift from Lord Willie Haughey just to secure the place. Also, their last botched development in 1999 has left the place in the state it is now. They don’t exactly fill you with confidence.
David Marshall (@marshalldave38)