The Hampden Collection was set up in 2017 and are a group of people dedicated to the preservation of the history of Hampden, the surrounding community and are collaborating to celebrate the magnificent story of Hampden Park. Yes, and there are 3 of them.
Hampden Bowling Club sits on the site of the First Hampden Park, home to Queens Park FC, the Scotland team and the Scottish Cup from 1873 to 1884. This was the world’s first purposefully built international football ground and template for all modern football stadia. Furthermore, this is where the ‘Scotch Professors’ developed the modern passing game of football and exported to the world, which is now played or watched by 3.5 billion people.
In 1884, Queens Park, Scotland and the SFA with their Scottish Cup, were forced to move from their first home to the Second Hampden at Cathkin, due to the building of the Cathcart Railway. They would move once again to their Third and present Hampden in 1903, when they realised that they had outgrown their current abode. They used thirty years of stadium experience to build the world’s biggest football ground.
The 1st Hampden was ‘lost’ for over 100 years until extensive research revealed the only known map of its location in the National Records of Scotland in 2017. The Hampden Collection was founded to promote this discovery and campaign for recognition of the three Hampden Parks, and all who played on them.
In 2021, Archaeology Scotland found the foundation stones of the original Hampden pavilion, beer bottles, clay pipes and teacups from the period, and wire fencing, which encompassed the original pitch. These amazing discoveries now need celebrated and interpreted for a global audience. They form the heart of our campaign.
1st Hampden is the ‘centre spot’ of what has been termed ‘Football’s Square Mile’, which is the World’s most important football heritage site. This Square Mile encompasses the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Hampden, birthplaces of the Glasgow Football Club Titans: Queen’s Park, Third Lanark, Rangers and Celtic. Furthermore, this includes Cathcart Cemetery, which is the ‘Scotch Professor’ Burial Ground, and the final resting place of Hugh McColl, RS McColl, George Pattullo, Willie Maley and William Wilton, naming but a few. These were the grand architects of the ‘Scotch Game’, which transcended international boundaries, and taught the world how to play football.
Football’s Square Mile is the home of the Scotch Professors, as they colloquially became known, who created the passing, running and inclusive game of football, and transported it to every corner of the planet. Queen’s Park, widely considered to be the grand architects of modern football, built the World’s first purposefully built, enclosed international football ground at 1st Hampden, created many of the rules and inventions we use today, and created the template for how you watch the game, including the fabled season ticket. And, of course, football is today viewed by a global audience of 3.5 billion people. Would this audience have 24/7 access to football without the inventions of the Television and Telephone? All of this was invented by the genius of Scots.
Graeme Brown, The Hampden Collection Founder, explains, “Our mission is to take back Scotland’s footballing heritage from those who have either rewritten it, or done little with it. Football is the ‘Peoples’ Beautiful Game’, crafted and created in Scotland for the World to enjoy. And finally, when there is a major tournament, football is indeed ‘Coming Hame’ to Football’s Square Mile, Glasgow, Scotland.”
The importance of the project is echoed by Archaeology Scotland, who completed two archaeology digs in the summer of 2021. Lead Archaeologist Dr Paul Murtagh explains, “The discoveries we made at 1st Hampden are of international significance. Through the painstaking research carried out by the Hampden Collection, and by carrying out geophysical survey as well as archaeological excavation, we were able to prove that this was the location of the 1st Hampden, the first purpose built football ground in the world.” He continues, “We discovered the footings of the 1st Hampden pavilion, as well as artefacts related to the people that watched some of the formative games of Scottish and international football. These artefacts allow us to connect directly with the supporters and players that were witness to the birth of football, and one of the most important cultural revolutions of the last 150 years”.
The launch of the campaign coincides with the 149th anniversary of the World’s first international football match, held at West of Scotland Cricket Ground in Partick, Glasgow, on St Andrew’s Day, 1872. Queen’s Park Football Club fielded the entire Scottish team against England, gifted the National Team their strip, organised the whole event and gave the World international football.
Although playing at Queen’s Park Recreation Ground at the time, Queen’s Park chose West of Scotland Cricket Ground as their venue, with 4,000 people paying a shilling to enter the ground. Following the success of this event, Queen’s Park realised they had to build their own ground, and in 1873, they opened 1st Hampden Park. In the following years, after this seismic event, football exploded across Scotland and began to take the World by storm, with the Scotch Professors leading the way.
Commenting on the launch of the campaign, Leeann Dempster, Chief Executive of Queen’s Park Football Club, explains the importance of this project, “The history of Queen’s Park is synonymous with Scottish Football, and we are delighted the heritage of the 3 Hampden Parks is being recognised, which forms a large part of the square mile footprint. This campaign will give the birthplace of modern football the biggest accolade of all, and I encourage everyone to learn the story of the Scotch Professors, and how they invented and exported the modern game.”
There are ten selection criteria for UNESCO World Heritage Status, including ‘to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius’ and ‘to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilisation which is living or which has disappeared’. We can argue Football’s Square Mile has 5 of the 10 criteria set out by UNESCO, and we only need 1. There are twelve months to garner grass root support for this project and turn it into a viable reality.