Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

History of the Queen's Park Football Club 1867 - 1917
Chapter XXXIIl.—First Hampden

The experience which the club had, in its efforts to procure a suitable ground in Glasgow on which to play the 1872 International, and the interest which that match universally excited, may have opened before the members the prospect of being able to secure a ground of their own, where the possibilities of 100 gates were in sights—untold wealth—and thousands of spectators attracted to witness a football match, as was the case at the West of Scotland ground on the occasion of that historic game. The possession of a private ground would add eclat to the club, in course of time endow its funds, and give it a local habitation, where it would not exist on sufferance, so to speak, as it did on the Queen's Park Recreation Ground. The Rugby and cricket clubs had handsome enclosures of their own, but the sports which they patronised were comparatively older, and were in some favour with the public. It was an ambitious project for the Queen's Park to embark upon. All the possibilities were exhaustively discussed, and the conclusion was arrived at, that there was a reasonable hope of bringing, what was then, such a large scheme, to a successful issue. It was most unmistakably a huge undertaking, almost inconceivable when it is looked at from a financial point of view. The club, after a year's trading, had a credit balance of 9s. 9d. in the spring of 1872, and 3 12s. 11d. to the good at the same period in 1873. It had no other resources than the subscriptions of its members, who numbered sixty-five all told—"who had paid." Those early Queen's Park managers were truly great men, undeterred by seemingly insuperable obstacles, which they always managed to surmount. Others would not have dared to face these difficulties, or would have succumbed in meeting them. Not so the brilliant band who set a standard which their successors have so ably and so consistently maintained, through good report and through evil report, for no one must for a moment run away with the idea that the course of the club has all been plain sailing. They were far-seeing men those managers, and their daring anticipations were more than realised in results. Their first procedure was, as usual, the appointment of a small subcommittee. They always threw the responsibility on the few for the many to consider in full committee. Messrs. W. Ker, J. J. Thomson, and R. Leckie were appointed to look out for a ground, and report. In March, 1873, a letter was received from Mr. Cowan, of the Glasgow and Paisley Joint Railway Company, intimating that the club could have ground near Dixon's Works, at the head of Crown Street, only on condition that the club remove when desired. These terms did not suit. The locality was in no sense desirable, and was far from their beloved Queen's Park. They next approached the Town Council in April, 1873, for a park, but had at first been refused the use of it. They were more successful at the second attempt, as it was reported to the half-yearly meeting, 21st October, 1873, that the Town Council had consented to let Hampden Park, Mount Florida, to the club till the first day of May next, at a rental of 20 for that time. On the motion of Mr. D. N. Wotherspoon, seconded by Mr. J. J. Thomson, the offer of Hampden Park was accepted on the terms offered by the Town Council, 20th October, 1873.

Thanks to the courtesy of Sir John Lindsay, Town Clerk, and the late Dr. Renwick, the historian of the Corporation, we are enabled to give the Corporation side of the correspondence on the subject, and other material facts concerning the ground, and the origin of the name "Hampden Park." Unfortunately after Mr. C. B. Miller was appointed secretary to the Queen's Park Football Club, all the accumulated papers of the club were burned, with the consent of the committee, which is much to be regretted, as these papers would have been found of great value in compiling the History of Queen's Park Football Club. The reply to the letter written by Mr. Rae in April, 1873, is as follows :—

City Chambers,
Glasgow, 3rd June, 1873.

Archibald Rae, Esq.,
33 Warwick Street, Glasgow.



Your application on behalf of Queen's Park Football Club for the use of a portion of that park lying to the east of Cathcart Road, on which to play the game,, was yesterday submitted to a meeting of Committee on Parks, etc., and the committee, having fully considered the matter, deemed it inexpedient to allocate any portion of the park for the purposes mentioned.

Your obedient servant,

(Signed) J. D. Marwick.

The club made a second application, 25th September, 1873, to which the reply was:—

City Chambers,
Glasgow, 1st October, 1873.

Archibald Rae, Esq.,
33 Warwick Street, Glasgow. Sir,

I to-day submitted your letter of 25th ultimo, on behalf of the Queen's Park Football Club, to the Committee on Parks, and,, after considering the matter, they declined your offer, not considering it expedient to disturb the arrangement at present existing with the grazier to whom the park in question is let.

Your obedient servant,

(Signed) J. D. Marwick.

It was reported to the half-yearly general meeting, 21st October, 1873, that the Town Council had consented to let -.' Hampden Park, Mount Florida"—the first use of the name in the minutes—to the club, till the first day of May next, at a rental of 20 for that time. The Town Clerk's letter is as under :—

City Chambers,
Glasgow, 20th October, 1873.

Archibald Rae, Esq.,
33 Warwick Street. Sir,

The Committee on Parks had to-day your application on behalf of the Queen's Park Football Club for a let, or lease, of that park situated on the east side of the Cathcart Road, before them.

They agree to let the club the park from this date till the first day of May next at a rent, for the period, of 20, on condition that the club keep the fences in good order, and do not sub-let any portion of the park.

Please let me know if the club agree to take the park on the foregoiug terms.

Your obedient servant,

(Signed) J. D. Marwick.

The refusal to let the park in the first instance had been remitted back by the Town Council to the Parks Committee for further consideration, as the following extract from the minutes of the Parks Committee proves. The minutes of the same committee in connection with the club's continued occupancy of the ground are also given for 1874 and 1875 :—

At Glasgow,, the 20th October, 1873
Convened:—Mr. Salmon (chair), Bailie Hamilton, and Messrs. Moncur, Laing, Torrens, Young, MacBean, Osborne, Scott, and Mathieson, members of the Committee on Parks.

The meeting having taken into consideration the application of the Queen's Park Football Club, to rent or lease the park situated on the east side of the Cathcart Road, remitted back to this committee by the Town Council, agreed to let the said park to the club from this date till the first day of May next at a rent of 20 for the period, on condition that they maintain the fences of the said park, and do not sub-let it.

6th April, 1874.

The application by the Queen's Park Football Club for a let of a portion of Hampden Park was again considered. The committee agreed to let to the club the portion of the park desired by them at a rent of 6 per acre, on condition of their paying the whole expense of a fence to be erected for the purpose of separating their ground from the other portion of the park. The let to terminate at any time, on the club getting three months' notice to that effect.

8th March, 1875.

It was agreed to continue the let to the Queen's Park Football Club of the portion of Hampden Park occupied by them on the same terms as formerly.

The ground let to the football club in 1873 was part of the eastmost fields of the lands of Pathhead, bought by the Town Council in 1857 for the formation of the South Side or Queen's Park. There was no distinct name of the field. The lands to the south of this part of Pathhead were called Prospecthill, now Mount Florida. On the ridge of the latter lands, facing the football ground, a row of houses, called Hampden Terrace, had been erected prior to 1873 by Mr. George Eadie, a well-known builder, who made a practice of giving historical names to his new streets, and named the terrace after John Hampden, the English patriot of Cromwell's time. It was quite natural that Queen's Park Football Club should adopt this name for its new park, the terrace being in the immediate vicinity. This piece of ground was cut off from the public park, though forming part of the estate purchased in 1857 by the Corporation, and had not been incorporated in the Recreation Ground on the other side of Cathcart Road. The club fixed on this pitch as the site of its field. As a matter of fact, therefore, the Queen's ark Football Club was actually still playing on a public park. It began on the Recreation Ground in 1867, and occupied its first private park until 1883, thus standing for a period of sixteen years on Corporation or public property— a fact not generally known.

At last the Queen's Park had found a habitation; its name had already obtained a widespread reputation, jumping as it did from comparative obscurity to International fame by its splendid achievements. The field was situated to the south of Myrtle Park Terrace, and the Cathcart Railway now runs through the western corner of the field. It was not quite level, a hill running up towards the southeastern side, but in every way suitable as a football enclosure. Mr. Andrew Speirs was then president of the club, and Mr. Archibald Rae, a most energetic and capable official, secretary. Once the ground fixed upon, steps were taken to make arrangements "about a house and other conveniences," and it was agreed to charge for admission to the new ground on match days—quite a new experience— and to advertise the opening match to be played on Saturday, 25th October, which was against Dumbreck, and the first Scottish Cup tie ever played by the club, which the Queen's Park won by seven goals to none. The Scottish Association had. only just been formed through the action of the Queen's Park, 13th March, 1873, and Mr. Rae was its first honorary secretary, as well as honorary secretary to the Queen's Park. Mr. Marwick's letter was dated 20th October, and five days afterwards the ground was opened, and a cup tie decided— quick work truly. It must have been with a sigh of regret that the club removed its equipment, posts, ropes, etc., from the Recreation Ground, where it had spent six happy years as a club, and even longer as promiscuous players of football. The members must have entered on their new venture with no little pride. The appurtenances of the game, in. the absence of a house, were kept by the tollman at Mount Florida, "whose remuneration was 20s., provided he took charge of the footballs and other club plant till the 1st May." Meantime Messrs. Thomson and Leckie (the ground committee, with Mr. Rae added) were to look out for, and obtain, a clubhouse, but not to pay more than 20 for it. The membership of the club on entering Hampden Park had increased to exactly one hundred members. Estimates were sought for the clubhouse, and that of Mr. Nicol, 21, was accepted, and the work begun. There was no water, however—deponent sayeth not how the players performed their ablutions; in 1874 an estimate of 15 was considered too much to expend on water—nor was water laid on until May, 1875, when lavatory accommodation, etc., were also provided. The minutes of the 1874 annual meeting are written in rather jubilant style, which is not surprising. Mr. Rae truly states: "We belong to the provident class. We have long had a name. Now we have a local habitation. If we be no landed proprietors, at least we have a house of our own, situate within our own demesne (kailyard, some one called it—a Clydesdale man, I think), and known everywhere as Hampden Park. Let us work, and work together, that our good name may lose none of its magic power over our own hearts, or over the hearts of our foes." The reference to Clydesdale is no doubt due to the fact that R. Gardner had just left the Queen's Park, with which he had been closely identified as a player and legislator, and had joined the Clydesdale in this season, February, 1874, along with the brothers Wotherspoon. Mr. Gardner had been requested to resign his position as representative of the club to the Scottish Football Association committee, and he had refused. With the ground came greater prosperity, and since that memorable 25th October, 1873, the club has never seriously suffered from lack of funds. The sum of 34 10s. 1d. was collected at matches in this first Hampden Park season—the first money that had come from an outside source. In this year membership, or season tickets, were issued for the first time, admitting to all the privileges of the ordinary members, except playing and voting, and from this source 4 5s. had come. The income was 107 10s., the balance to the credit of the club 38 10s. 8d.—unheard-of wealth. But what was this in comparison to the statement of the treasurer, Mr. James Strang (no relative of the late secretary, Mr. James Strang), for season 1875-76, when the income was 781 1s. 6d. and the profit 264 18s.; and ten years later, 1884-85, the treasurer's intromissions were 2,304 2s. 7d., when the second Hampden was completed and paid for to date, leaving 3 0s. 3d. to carry forward. The bold step of establishing a ground of its own proved a profitable one, and met with great reward. To obtain a lease was the next consideration, and the Town Council was offered 20 per annum and to pay "half-fencing of that portion of Hampden Park north of the big gate." Mr. Marwick, as stated, informed the club that it could have whatever portion of Hampden Park it required at a rental of 6 per acre, per annum, the club to pay for the fence enclosing their portion, and to leave on three months' notice, which was so far satisfactory—no lease, however. Now the club was in a position to make the improvements, which had hitherto been delayed, because of insecurity of tenure. The club was most anxious to obtain a lease for at least five years, and the Council was re-approached on the subject, but without avail. The ground was levelled, barricades erected, and a groundsman employed to attend in the evenings. A grand stand was, of course, the next desideratum, and in April, 1876, instructions were given to proceed with the erection of a structure on the south side of the ground, eighty yards long and six seats deep, to be finished before 9th September, 1876, the date of the first open annual athletic sports, the prizes for which cost 130, one of which was won by, and is still in the possession of, the writer. Messrs. J. & J. Phillips offered to do the work at a cost of 237 11s. 7d., and at the same time put up a new gate. A novelty at these sports was a four-a-side football competition, in which Messrs. Taylor, Campbell, M'Neil, and M'Kinnon represented the Queen's Park. All members had to pay for admission to the stand, but not without strong demur, until the revenue derived from it should cover the cost. Mr. Mitchell, president, presented the club with a flag, bearing the familiar Queen's Park colours, to be displayed from one of the newly-erected poles on the grand stand. In payment of Messrs. Phillips' account of 306 13s. 3d., for the stand and other work done, the club granted an acceptance at three months from 19th October, 1876, for 200, "prompt cash being paid for the balance." This was the only acceptance, as already mentioned, given by the Queen's Park in the whole course of its history—a remarkable fact, considering the many heavy responsibilities it entered into since the date in question. Its membership was not very large. It rarely exceeded the hundred, until well on in the 'seventies, but in 1876 it had over six hundred season ticket holders. A close boarding protected the ground on the Cathcart Road side. The field was levelled and returfed, and often it was closed for a period in the summer months for recuperation. The club had to be content with its small wooden 21 pavilion until February, 1878, when that of the Caledonian Cricket Club came into the market, that club having to remove from Burnbank. To acquire this pavilion was considered a large undertaking, and the usual sub-committee was appointed to look into the matter, and report. Plans were prepared for the annual meeting, as the general committee were afraid to take upon themselves such a serious responsibility. Estimates were obtained for purchase, removal, and re-erection. The house was purchased for 65, and the cost of removal was to be 84 ; but when Mr. Rae, the secretary, asked the Town Council to sanction its erection, he was met by the intimation that the Parks Committee had determined to increase the rent to 100. Any argument used to moderate this large increase was unavailing, Bailie Laing, the convener, very plainly stating that the park was already too cheap, from his own personal knowledge the club was quite able to pay the extended figure, considering the large attendance of spectators at the matches, and, finally, that less would not even be entertained. They had full liberty to put up the new house, but no encouragement could be given to the idea of a lease. This was a bombshell, but, taking all things into consideration, it was agreed to accept the terms, and the pavilion went up at a total charge of 239 12s. 1d.—very much in excess of the estimate. At the end of the season, 1878-79, the club had yet a balance to the good of 211 17s. 5d. The pavilion was a valuable asset. It was a sightly building of wood on brick foundation, and excellently suited for the purpose, with the old pavilion as a stand-by. The club enjoyed its first ground for a period of ten years, when the march of civilisation, in the shape of the Cathcart Circle Railway, built to meet the convenience of an extending south side population, forced it to retire from the scene of its early triumphs, and seek fresh fields and quarters new. Truth to tell, it was not averse to this, as the old quarters had become restricted, and scarcely suitable to the requirements of the club.

Return to Book Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus