With the Scotland squad intent on pulling their socks up, the Scottish Football Association is planning another jewel for Hampden’s crown -— an international soccer museum. Kathleen Morgan asks if the national stadium should be centre stage in a celebration of world football.
Scotland’s Football Museum
cotland’s dream of an international football museum is stacked in a small cupboard in the heart of Hampden Park, where the nation’s soccer history has been played out in blood, sweat and increasingly. tears.
Rows of ageing photographs. neatly ﬁled in what looks like an airing cupboard, are the modest beginnings of an ambitious tribute to a game inspiring as much devotion and hatred as religion. Backed by the Scottish Football Association, the museum will be a tribute to a sport with the capability to spark wars. transcend national barriers and bring grown men to their knees — on and off the pitch.
lts inception has come at a difﬁcult time, with Scottish football under increasing pressure in the face of defeat. Struggling to discover what is rotten in the state of Hampden, the SFA has ordered an independent inquiry. chaired by the association’s former secretary Ernie Walker. Fans of the Scottish game must wait up to three years for the prognosis.
Leaving the bad times at the door, the Hampden soccer museum will be the stuff of every football addict’s dream — cups. team photographs. decades-old tickets to international games. But the SFA is promising much more besides for what it claims will be the first international football museum. This is to be an accessible. interactive journey into every aspect of the game. mixing technology with traditional memorabilia. Providing the SFA wins millennium funding. the museum will be incorporated into Hampden’s south stand in 1996. the final section to be rebuilt after the Taylor Report changed the face of football spectating.
For now. the museum consists of the SFA’s own collection and Queen’s Park FC’s meticulously preserved body of 1300 photographs. stored in the cupboard at Hampden. The Queen’s Park collection encapsulates the essence of Scottish — and global — football. The faces frozen in black and white images dating back to the late 18005, are of those players who shaped today’s game. Their passion for kicking a ball about a field was where it all began, according to the SFA museum’s curator Ged O’Brien.
‘Queen’s Park invented the game we know today.’ he says. Founded in 1867. the amateur. club began organising kick-about matches on Queen’s Park Recreation Ground. sometimes i) involving as many as twenty a _ side. The English Football t Association had been founded
four years earlier and the passion for the game was spreading.
The first full match between Scotland and England was on St Andrew’s Day 1872. three months before the SFA was formed. It was a 0-0 draw. but the battle
to lay down a formalised version ofthe game had commenced. O‘Brien
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believes Queen’s Park injected the game with the skills expected of players today — the Scots knew how to pass the ball while the English were intent on dribbling. ‘If you dribble and pass. you must have tactics. whereas if you just dribble it’s really individualistic.‘ he explains. Hampden Park. the third and final version. was opened in Mount Florida on Glasgow’s south side ill 1903. It was the natural home ofScottish
‘lt’s an attraction to have a museum and if we’re going to do it, we should do it properly.’
football — its owners. Queen’s Park. had dominated the national game for the best part of three decades. The stadium attracted the largest all-ticket crowd in British footballing history when 149.4l5 watched Scotland defeat England 3-1 in 1937. It witnessed two major riots in 1909 and 1980. both after Scottish Cup fl nals between Celtic and Rangers. and survived a tire in I968 and threats to replace it with a new ground during the 1980s.
In the past four years. £20 million has been spent preparing Hampden for the 20th century. If the SFA gets its millennium backing ill September. the museum of football will be part of that. together with plans to incorporate community. international media and medical centres. ‘We’re not suggesting we are breaking new ground.’ says SFA secretary Jim Farry. ‘We’re trying to make tip for lost time. The innovation of the previous century has not been matched.’
O’Brien is laying the foundations of the museum. Since 1990. he has been canvassing opinion among football clubs and their fans. and luring the general public to taster exhibitions at Glasgow‘s Museum of 'l‘ransport. The museum is to be a celebration of the wide-spread passion
. s: - ' . Hampden 1908: this Scotland v England international attracted 121 ,452, who witnessed the 1-1 draw
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for the game. not a business opportunity. he insists. ‘The day I sec 20.000 people running down Sauchiehall Street shouting “There’s only one Tesco . . is the day you can treat football like a business.‘
Hampden still holds a special place in the heart of the nation — even if its team is ﬂoundering on the international fleld. Scottish footballing legend and manager of Premiership champions Blackburn Rovers. Kenny Dalglish believes Hampden is the right platform for the museum. ‘lt’s the national stadium in everybody’s eyes.’ he says in typical deadpan tones. ‘lt’s an attraction to have a museum and if we’re going to do it. we should do it properly.’
For former Scotland and Manchester United star Denis Law. Hampden holds some cherished memories — ‘To go there and beat England. always a big game on the Scotland calendar . . . I wouldn’t think of doing that anywhere else.’ He believes the museum is vital to preserve the game’s history for future generations.
Author of Hampden Babylon and commissioning editor for Channel 4. Stuart Cosgrovc supports the idea of the museum. but hopes it will be more than a two-dimensional portrait of the game. ‘The SFA have got to get real — they’ve got to see it’s about attracting people.’ he says. ‘No museum should ever be responsible for trailing the sanitised version of the game.’
Assistant editor of the recently-launched football magazine Four Four Two. Olivia Blair has different ideas ‘lt should be celebratory.’ she says. ‘You shouldn’t glorify it. but you don’t have to dwell on the bad points.’
For now, the museum remains a small operation with a dream of something great — a bit like Scottish football. C]
The Scottish Football Association stages regular exhibitions at Glasgow 's Museum of Transport. Telephone 0/4] 22/ 9600for details.