An archaeological dig is set to commence in Glasgow next year to uncover the site of ‘1st Hampden Park’, what is believed to have formed the blueprint for football stadia.
Hampden Bowling Club (pictured) currently sits on the site, which was only recently uncovered as the home of 1st Hampden Park by the National Records of Scotland. The stadium was home to Queen’s Park, the oldest association football club in Scotland, and the national team from 1873 to 1884, at which point it was closed due to the building of the Cathcart Circle Railway line.
The #Restore1stHampden campaign has since been launched in an effort to help restore what is claimed to be the most important football building in the world, as well as the surrounding grounds. The Hampden Collection organisation has teamed up with Archaeology Scotland to excavate parts of the site.
Paul Murtagh, a senior project officer with Archaeology Scotland, told the Glasgow Evening Times newspaper: “We’re going to dig down, do an excavation and do proper archaeology and look at any of the artefacts associated with the old stadium.
“It’s the most significant footballing site in the world. Every stadium after this basically copied it. Turnstiles, embankment standing, season tickets all started at the first Hampden. It’s not only a key part of footballing history, but of Scottish history.”
Graeme Brown, a member of Hampden Bowling Club, added: “This project is part of our flagship Restore the First Hampden programme, which we initiated once we proved the site in 2017. First Hampden is one of the secrets of the sporting world, and our partnership with Archaeology Scotland is a key step in ensuring everyone understands the importance of this site.
“We need to preserve First Hampden for future generations to enjoy. This site is where the modern passing game was created and set the template for every football stadium every built.”
The dig, to be funded by Historic Environment Scotland, is expected to take place in the summer of 2021, with members of the public invited to join professional archaeologists in the project.
In August, the Scottish Football Association (SFA) formally took ownership of the modern day Hampden Park from its previous owner, Queen’s Park. The SFA initially concluded a £5m (€5.5m/$6.7m) deal back in June 2019 to buy the stadium from League Two club Queen’s Park. The agreement to purchase Scotland’s national football stadium was signed after months of negotiations.
The SFA reached an agreement back in September 2018 to buy the 51,866-seat stadium from Queen’s Park. The deal represented a success for Hampden Park, which had faced competition from Edinburgh’s Murrayfield stadium to become the home of Scottish football after 2020.
The current Hampden Park is a also historic venue for both Scottish and European football. Opened in 1903, Hampden Park has hosted six European club finals, including arguably the greatest final in the history of the European Cup when Real Madrid defeated Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3 in front of 127,621 fans in 1960, still a record attendance for the finale of the now Champions League.
Hampden also holds other attendance records. In 1937, the first all ticket Scotland match attracted an attendance of 149,415, the British record for any match as Scotland defeated England 3-1. Meanwhile, the 1937 Scottish Cup final drew a crowd of 146,433 – a European record for a club match – as Celtic beat Aberdeen 2-1.