On 9th July 1867 at half-past eight in the evening “a number of gentlemen met at No 3 Eglinton Terrace for the purpose of forming a football club." The Queen’s Park Football Club was born. It soon became a leading exponent of the game becoming a member of Football Association in England in 1870 and having a major role in the formation of the Scottish Football Association in 1873. The Glasgow club organised the first official international football match between Scotland and England in 1872 providing all of Scotland’s players from within its own membership. Having started off playing matches on the Queen’s Park Recreation Ground, Queen’s Park would move to two separate grounds before finally settling at their current home. The club had to move from “First” Hampden (1873-1883) due to the building of the Cathcart Circle railway line which cut through the western side of the ground. “Second” Hampden was opened in 1884 and remained the club’s home until 1903 but by the mid 1890s plans were already underway to move to a new site in order to build an arena with an increased capacity which would keep pace with the ever growing crowds that flocked to the leading grounds in Glasgow.
In 1903 Queen’s Park finally moved the short distance from Second Hampden to “Third and Greatest” Hampden Park. The following year the stadium hosted its first Scottish Cup Final and from 1906 onwards Hampden became host to the Scotland v England fixture. The vast arena’s unofficial status as Scotland's National Football Stadium was confirmed in 1925 when it was awarded the hosting of the Scottish Cup Final on a continual basis. Only on a few occasions since 1925, due to stadium reconstruction, has Hampden not hosted Scotland’s showpiece match for club football.
The stadium witnessed its first world attendance record in 1908 and would remain the biggest arena in world football until 1950. With the completion of the north stand in 1937 Hampden was at its largest and architect Archibald Leitch calculated a holding capacity of 183,724. Some of the major attendance records are listed below although they don’t account for the many thousands of supporters who entered the stadium unofficially or, in the case of the two games in 1937, were locked outside.
1937: attendance 149,415: Home International: Scotland v England
1937: attendance 147,365: Scottish Cup Final: Celtic v Aberdeen
1970: attendance 136,505: European Cup Semi-Final: Celtic v Leeds United
Arguably the most memorable European Cup Final, Real Madrid v Eintracht Frankfurt, was held at Hampden in May 1960 with Real winning 7-3. This match which left the Scottish spectators spellbound set the attendance record for the final of the European Cup.
Whilst fulfilling its role as the National Stadium, Hampden has remained the home of Queen’s Park FC who, despite their amateur status, play in the senior national leagues.
As with all great architectural feats, time proved an enemy for the stadium. As elsewhere, the owners and operators appeared unaware of the changes in the game and in society generally. The facilities remained unaltered at a time when, arguably, most clubs could have afforded to implement change enhancing the safety and comfort of spectators, players and officials.
In later years, the disasters at football stadia at Heysel, Sheffield and Bradford highlighted the deficiencies and brought change through a pincer movement of directives from football’s World and European governing bodies and from national governments. Stadia had to be upgraded to provide safe and comfortable accommodation. Overdue, perhaps, but a new era was opening.
The task of rebuilding Hampden began in 1990 with the formation of the National Stadium Committee, formed with representatives of the Club (Queen’s Park) and the Scottish football authorities. It was charged with examining and addressing the means of drawing together the financial package to rebuild the National Stadium on its current site. At the time, other sites, in out-of-town locations, were identified and proposed by developers and local authorities. None of these schemes proved sustainable. In media debate, the general public and former players regarded Hampden as the spiritual home of football and wanted to retain it as the National Stadium.
The National Stadium Committee set about its task. It drew together £12 million of funding to upgrade the North and East Stands, carry out external landscaping, improve car parking provision and provide hospitality lounges. These elements of work were completed in February 1994 and the Stadium hosted a full international match, Scotland v The Netherlands. Thereafter, the challenge was to complete the outstanding The vision of the new Hampden was emerging; not a replacement of the old but a new structure with facilities to match the aspirations of a new Millennium and future generations of sports participants, spectators, viewers, business and commerce. The story was told; the vision of the venue and its adjacent sites was shared with others. The process of drawing together the funding had started.
The next phase was the rebuilding of the South Stand and the redevelopment of the West Stand. This was completed in May 1999 at a cost of £59 million. The original budget of £51 million was exceeded by £8 million (15.7%).
The Millennium Commission provided funding of £24.2 million, which was very much appreciated although less than many other national projects received.
The new South Stand (with seating for 17,000 spectators) opened in May 1999 with a Festival of Football followed by the Scottish Cup Final.
Queen’s Park, who still own the Stadium, are the only Amateur Club playing in the Scottish Football League and are currently in Division 2.
The Stadium was leased to the Scottish Football Association and has been operated by Hampden Park Limited since April 2000. It is an initial 20-year lease with a further 20-year option.
The Stadium Capacity is currently 52,000.
The East Stand has been redeveloped to improve supporter facilities, extending internal concourses and improving entry and exit routes. The work was completed on time and on budget.
The Stadium is graded as a Five Star stadium by UEFA. The only other ground in Scotland that has Five Star status is Ibrox.
In addition to football matches, the Stadium hosts a series of events including concerts, American Football and large outdoor meetings. The Lounges in the South Stand offer a wide range of facilities for conferences, exhibitions, meetings, receptions, dinners and lunches.
Hampden is now seen as an ideal venue with its convenient access and ample car parking.
Hampden Park is a stadium to be proud of - it provides a home for the Scotland team, a neutral venue for semi-finals and finals, and a first-class facility for a wide range of events.