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
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 :—
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
Your obedient servant,
(Signed) J. D. Marwick.
The club made a second application, 25th September, 1873,
to which the reply was:—
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 :—
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
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.