No Time to Rest
Scotland – Journey
Buck’s Bar Southside
When the meals were brought out, they were served in boxes, similar to a pizza box, with grease-proof paper under the food. The portions were huge, which went some way to explaining the slightly inflated cost. I have to say the chicken itself was slightly disappointing and seemed like those cheap cuts of chicken that taste rubbery when cooked.
The fries and the sauce etc were good though and I didn’t leave any which means: A) it couldn’t have been bad and B) the fries were the only skinny part of the experience.
It’s also worth pointing out the decor of Buck’s Bar. It is done out in a rock music style and this is also what you will hear while eating there. Old T-shirts have cleverly been turned into cushions and the ambience is good, if devoid of other people. (there were more folks coming in as we were finishing off.)
We paid our bill and set off for part two of our pre-game itinerary.
Scotland – Cathkin Park
I remembered hearing about Cathkin Park a couple of years ago and always thought it would be neat to see. The second home stadium for the Scottish national team and now an overgrown relic in a public park of the same name.
From 1884 until 13th May 1967, football was played here, first by the Scotland national team and subsequently by Queen’s Park and Third Lanark. Since that final game in 1967 (Glasgow Challenge Cup Final between Cambuslang Rangers and Rutherglen Glencairn), the ground was allowed to fall into disrepair and quickly became overgrown.
Three sides of the ground are still there, covered mostly by trees but in the gaps, terracing can still be seen, complete with original crush barriers, and it’s an amazing thing to come across. A football pitch still sits in the bowl below the terracing and is currently used by three teams: Hampden AFC, Jimmy Johnstone Academy and a phoenix version of the folded Third Lanark team.
It’s a remarkably peaceful place in the middle of a busy city and the only noises were those of birds, nature rustling in the undergrowth and trees and… someone pulling bits off trees in a sustained and concerted effort.
I didn’t like to ask…
I would thoroughly recommend any football fan who finds themselves in Glasgow to go and take a look at this place. There are sure to be people who would want it to be restored and pull down the trees etc but I have to be honest, I love it just the way it is. The only thing I would suggest is that it’s not allowed to deteriorate further.
If Third Lanark and or Hampden AFC ever decide to renovate this place, I would hope they build any planned stand on the side that is currently open and leave the rest for posterity. It’s a living museum as it is.
For a more detailed review of Cathkin Park, I’d recommend this article.
Scotland – Cathkin Park Gallery
Scotland – Cathkin Park Video
Scotland – Hampden Bowling Club
The next part of the football history to check out is a short walk from Cathkin Park and is the site of the original Scotland national team stadium. Hampden Bowling Club may be the central attraction on the site nowadays but it was once the world’s first purpose-built international football ground.
Unfortunately, nothing remains on the ground these days, other than the memories that are written on the plaques surrounding the bowling club’s fence. From 1873 to 1884, this was where Scotland played their international matches, including a very famous 5-1 win over the ‘Auld Enemy’, England. 10,000 spectators were present on that day according to the information on the plaque.
Why this particular win is highlighted, I’m not sure because they also beat England 7-2 and 5-4 on the same ground. Wales fans shouldn’t laugh at this because their team were beaten 9-0, 5-1 and 5-0 here, too.
In what is probably the highlight of the site nowadays, a mural has been painted on the wall of the clubhouse building by the side of the railway line that runs right past it. The mural, painted as recently as 2019, depicts the famous win over England in 1882 and is lovely to look at.
You can read more about the inadvertent discovery of the bowling club’s history here.
Hampden Bowling Club – Gallery
Scotland – Pre-Match Drink
From here, we walked to the modern version of Hampden Park, a stark contrast to the history we had just been looking at. We walked along the northern side of it as we headed for the Montford House bar on the East side of Hampden Park. The Tartan Army were starting to gather, along with stalls that were being set up to sell merchandise and food outside the ground.
We walked past the brick facade of the north stand, through the car park and over the road. The pub was already pretty busy with kilted fans and feathers of varying sizes sticking from their Glengarry hats. The security staff at the door gave the impression that it may not always be a party atmosphere here. For us though, it was a friendly atmosphere and apart from a shifty-looking exchange of drugs at a table opposite, there were no problems, just happy people having a drink with mates.
Scotland – Hampden Park Exterior
Because of the blog I write and the need for photos and video, we left the Montford at about 6 pm to go and have a good look around the stadium before we went in. Surprisingly, Hampden Park has no shop where you can buy official merchandise, so you have to get anything you want from the sellers around the stadium.
I think this may be something the SFA could look into changing. A large shop full of replica kits and merchandise would go down a treat on nights and days like this one. Still, this didn’t stop me from getting a programme and Mrs Hopper bought one of the much-maligned half and half scarfs to go with the one we bought at the Norway v Sweden game we attended in the summer.
Hampden Park Exterior – Gallery
Aside from the North and South Stand facades, Hampden Park is a strangely bland place from the outside. One thing of note to look out for is the building site that will become the home of Queen’s Park once it is finished. I’m sure most of you already know that Queen’s Park played at Hampden Park for most of its history until recently.
The Scottish FA reached a deal with the club to buy Hampden Park from them for the seemingly meagre sum of five million pounds. Queen’s Park, meanwhile will play their home games at Lesser Hampden, which was originally their training pitch adjacent to the main stadium.
The club is currently playing their home games at Stenhousemuir’s Ochilview ground and judging by the way Lesser Hampden is currently looking, it may be some time before they move home. I’m sure it will be worth the wait once it is finished and I look forward to returning once it’s completed.
Lesser Hampden – Gallery
Scotland – Hampden Park Interior
With our circuit of Hampden and Lesser Hampden done, we made our way inside Scotland’s national stadium. Our tickets were from the original date of the fixture, which had been scheduled for June 7th. Due to unforeseen events in Ukraine, this match was cancelled and rearranged so that the more important World Cup qualifier, which had been postponed earlier in the year, could be played.
Tickets were bought online from the Scottish FA website at a cost of £30.00 each, plus a £1 admin fee for who knows what, seeing as the tickets are emailed and printed at home, thus saving money for the seller. A modern trend I would be happy to see reversed. Ticket stubs used to be a good memento along with a match programme.
We found our designated turnstile and placed the QR code into the ticket scanner and in we went.
We climbed our way up the steps (of course I had bought tickets for the uppermost tier!) and got our first glimpse of the inner sanctum of Scottish football.
An oval bowl consisting entirely of seats in red or blue, with two sections in the design of the Scottish saltire. Mostly one level, with just the South Stand, which is where we were seated, having an extra upper level that makes that side of the stadium slightly higher. This stand also contains the dressing rooms and the player’s tunnel.
At each end of the pitch, there is quite a large arcing area between the stands and the playing surface, which could make fans feel distanced from the action but to be honest, from our section in the southwest corner, the view was still pretty good.
Hampden Park Interior – Gallery
Directly below us was the section designated for Ukrainian supporters and there were a decent number of them in attendance. Presumably, there would have been even more if Vladimir Putin hadn’t been a complete dick!
Throughout the day we had seen sporadic groups of Ukrainians, including in George Square in the heart of Glasgow city centre, where they were having a drink at the tables outside a bar. The Scots were engaging with them and shaking hands and generally making them feel very welcome which was great to see.
An amusing interlude then took place in the stadium, where a fellow Hopper had seen my Twitter post and said he was on the opposite side of the pitch. I exchanged tweets with him and slowly honed in on his position across the pitch.
As kick-off approached, we were treated to a fabulous light show along with Scottish staples, such as the Proclaimers and… Baccara? I don’t know exactly how it came about, but the Scotland fans have taken the 1978 classic ‘Yes Sir, I Can Boogie’, as one of their own and there are some great videos online of the Tartan Army singing it.
Scotland – Pre-Match Entertainment
Scotland – Teams Take the Field
After taking multiple photographs and videos, it was time for the teams to enter the arena and line up for the anthems. I’ve always loved listening to Flower of Scotland on TV and was looking forward to that but first up was the Ukraine anthem and it’s never been more poignant than right now with the country’s very existence under threat. The section below us sang along and then it was Scotland’s turn.
A lone piper led the anthem from the pitch and the Tartan Army took up the words (plus a couple of un-penned ones.) It’s the kind of song that can send goosebumps down the spine when sung at full volume but tonight, it was only at about 60%, I would say.
Then came the moment that had been dividing fans online. The Scottish FA applied to UEFA for permission to hold a minute’s applause before the game, as a mark of respect for the passing of Queen Elizabeth. A lot of Scots don’t recognise the monarchy as theirs, while lots of others do and it was always likely to be a controversial move from the SFA.
Permission was granted and the applause was led by the two sets of players and officials grouped around the centre circle. Initially, the boos were loud but in all honesty, the applause soon drowned them out as respect for the dead won the day.
Now it was time for the real action!
Scotland – The Game
As this is a long article and the match is not the main reason you are probably here to read it, I will keep this part short.
The first half was started by Scotland, resplendent in their newly unveiled home kit. The first real action came 10 minutes in with a chance for Ché Adams, with the Ukraine keeper saving the low shot comfortably.
The rain started its steady descent and kept up for the rest of the game, making the surface slick after all the pre-match watering it had. The Ukraine fans made their presence felt in the first sixty minutes, with a steady chant of “Oo-Kran-e-ah!” although this died off a little as the second half went against their team.
In the 21st minute, two more chances followed for Scotland in what was a pretty even first forty-five, with both Ryan Christie and John McGinn being denied a goal. The final chance of the half again fell to Scotland and introduced the games pantomime villain in the form of Valeriy Bondar.
With Ché Adams bursting through the Ukraine defence, Bondar threw himself into Adams and tried to make it look like an accidental clash of heads as he lay on the floor. Neither the referee nor the Tartan Army was convinced and he was rightly shown the yellow card. The presence of Stepanenko to his right is probably the only factor keeping it from being a red card.
This action brought about the end of a relatively dour first half.
Half-time – Scotland 0 Ukraine 0
It’s been a while since our last 0-0 game but I have to admit, heading into the second half, I feared this might be the one that broke the run.
I need not have feared.
The Second Half
Scotland started the second half looking the better team, a momentum that they kept up for the whole half, with the just rewards following. Also kept up for the whole half was the booing of Bondar, much to the amusement of Mrs Hopper.
Stuart Armstrong had a shot saved and another shot went sailing over the bar, with a string of corners adding to the mounting pressure on the Ukraine backline. Aaron Hickey had a thunderous shot deflected just wide of the upright and Ché Adams was again twice denied. Once by the crossbar and again by the outstretched leg of the Ukraine keeper.
It felt like just a matter of time now before Scotland scored and it finally happened in the 70th minute.
Captain John McGinn had been instrumental in many of Scotland’s closest chances and it’s no surprise that he is a firm favourite with the Tartan Army. It’s also no surprise that he was the man to finally make the breakthrough.
Kieran Tierney was muscled off the ball on the edge of the area but the ball found its way inside the box and it was McGinn’s turn to muscle the defender off the ball, turn and fire a low shot into the bottom corner of the net. Cue wild celebrations on and off the pitch.
From this point on, there was only ever going to be one winner because Scotland didn’t relent the pressure and two more goals followed before the final whistle.
The second came in the 80th minute with yet another Scottish corner. This time it was substitute Lyndon Dykes, the Queens Park Rangers striker, who headed home not long after coming onto the pitch. A perfect cross from the corner by Newcastle’s Ryan Fraser got the finish it deserved as Dykes leapt highest at the near post and nodded into the opposite corner of the net.
Seven minutes later and a complete déjà vu moment. The Ukraine defence clearly hadn’t learned their lesson and once again Dykes nodded home from a Fraser corner kick. There may have been a hint of luck about this one though as he connected with a messy combination of head, neck and shoulder, all at the same time. It didn’t matter to anyone of a Scottish persuasion, however – it was 3-0!
This brought the game to an end and it should be noted that Ukraine didn’t manage a single shot on target throughout the match. Three goals and a stout defensive performance will give the Scotland team a lot of confidence going into Saturday’s game against the Republic of Ireland at Hampden.
Full-time – Scotland 3 Ukraine 0
Attendance – 42,846
Entrance Fee – £30.00
Programme – £5.00
A match report can be read here, via the Scottish FA website.
Scotland – Match Highlights
Some Personal Videos of the Match Action
Scotland – After the Game
Following the game, I tried to get a video of the Ukraine fans but by this time, some of them had understandably already exited the stadium. Still, there were a good number of them applauding their team at the end of the match.
We followed the herd out of the ground and made our way toward Mount Florida train station. Along the way, we saw more evidence of Scottish fans making their Ukrainian counterparts feel welcome as they mingled outside the stadium.
We joined a large queue for the train station that was being monitored and organised by the police. We considered getting a taxi but decided the queue was moving at a decent pace and we stuck it out. Special extra trains were laid on that went directly to Glasgow Central and this made the wait very much bearable and was well organised by those involved.
About 45 minutes later, we boarded the train to Glasgow Central and were soon pulling into the station. Our hotel was just across the road from here which was very convenient.
Almost like someone planned it…
A comfortable sleep saw us wake to the sound of the alarm the next morning and prepare ourselves for the journey home. This started with a walk to Queen Street station, where we caught the 10:45 Edinburgh train. We arrived at Waverley on time at 11:37 which gave us plenty of time to grab a coffee before catching the 12:00 departure to Newcastle.
A smooth run brought us into Newcastle at the scheduled time of 13:37 and we walked to catch our bus home. This duly arrived at 14:05 and despite being full, we managed to find a seat on the top deck. We were home at 15:00 and happily put up our feet with a hot coffee before getting back to the grind of catching up with our work, which had been neglected for the last day and a bit.
Onto the next!