Glasgow's Football Stadiums

Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   Text © Copyright September 2022, Thomas Nugent; licensed for re-use under a Creative Commons Licence.
Images also under a similar Creative Commons Licence.


Glasgow - A city of football on a world scale

Glasgow has been a city of football almost since the rules of Association Football were established in England in 1863. As a well travelled Scot, whenever anyone abroad asks where I come from and I reply "Scotland", their next question is almost invariably "Celtic or Rangers?", such is the reach of the city's top two clubs. Partick Thistle and Queens Park are the two other professional clubs in the city (Clyde FC having moved out of Shawfield in 2010). Founded in 1867, Queens Park is the oldest existing football club outside of England, but only turned professional as recently as 2019.

In the early 1900s Glasgow was home to the three biggest football grounds in the world, being Hampden, Ibrox and Celtic Park, which had a combined capacity of over 200,000. In 2022, the combined capacity of these three stadiums is still a healthy 163,000. This article give a short history of each of these stadiums, plus Firhill, which is the only other stadium still in professional football use in the city in 2022.

1 Hampden Park Stadium

Opening DateOwning ClubCurrent CapacityOriginal & Maximum CapacitiesRecord AttendanceStadium TypeUEFA CategoryWikipedia Article
31st October 1903Queens Park FC (until 2021)51,866100,000 & 150,000149,415 (1937)Bowl5HampdenExternal link

NS5961 : Hampden Park Stadium from the air by Thomas Nugent
Being the national stadium, Hampden is probably the most famous one in the city. It is located amongst the tenemented streets in the Mount Florida suburban district around 2.4 miles south of the city centre. Built by and for Queens Park FC, it is the third stadium to bear the Hampden name, the other two being within a free kick's distance away.

The stadium is also the headquarters of the Scottish Football Association (SFA) and the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL). It also houses the Scottish Football Museum.

NS5961 : 2007 UEFA Cup Final, Hampden Park by Alan O'DowdNS5961 : Hampden car park by Jim Smillie NS5961 : Hampden Park by davefalconer NS5961 : 'The Boss' at Hampden Stadium by James T M Towill NS5961 : Scottish Cup Final 1978 by Colin Smith NS5961 : Hampden Park - 10:00:00 Weds 30 July 2014 by Anthony O'Neil

1.1 The first Hampden Park 1873-1884

Founded in 1867, Queen's Park is the oldest club in Scottish football. They built the first Hampden Park in 1873 and it was named after Hampden Terrace, which overlooked the ground. This street was named after an Englishman named John Hampden, who fought for the roundheads in the English Civil War. This ground hosted the first Scottish Cup Final in 1874 and a Scotland v England match in 1878.

1.2 The second Hampden Park 1884-1903

Expansion of the Cathcart District Railway forced a move to a second Hampden park, which was located just 150 yards away and opened in 1884. This later became Cathkin Park, the home of Third Lanark FC, which became defunct in 1967 due to bankruptcy. Preserved by a legal condition which limits use of the the space to recreational use, it is now a public park, still with a grass football pitch and the remains of the old Hampden terracing and bowl formation still very much in evidence.
NS5861 : Terraces, Cathkin Park by Euan Nelson
Incredibly, sections of terracing at the old stadium are still intact today, although the metal stanchions are probably not original (the original ones would have been wooden). Listen carefully and you might just hear the Hampden Roar echo off the remaining terracing.

The section shown here is fairly clear and intact, compared to that in other parts of the ground which have succumbed to verdant growth over the past hundred-plus years.

NS5861 : Cathkin Park, Glasgow by Euan Nelson NS5861 : Cathkin Park by Alan Murray Walsh NS5861 : Cathkin Park by Alan Murray Walsh NS5861 : Cathkin Park by emma mykytyn

This 11 minute Youtube video is of interest, it includes photos of the old stadium as well as recent (2021) video footage LinkExternal link .

1.3 The third Hampden Park 1903-Present

There being no space for expansion at the second Hampden, the club moved 500 yards to the south, where the current Hampden still stands. When opened, it was the biggest football stadium in the world, with a capacity of 100,000. The capacity was greatly increased between 1927 and 1937, peaking at 150,000. The Hampden record attendance of 149,415 for a 1937 Scotland v England match is still the European record for an international football match. It remained the biggest stadium in the world until the Maracana Stadium opened in Brazil in 1950. The capacity has been steadily reduced over the years since then, to meet the requirements of the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 and later as part of the 1999 conversion to an all-seater stadium, which resulted in the current 51,866 capacity.

In addition to hosting Scotland's international football matches, Hampden also hosts the latter stages of the Scottish Cup and the Scottish League Cup. It should not be forgotten that Queens Park's home games were held here until 2019, attracting an average attendance of 600 (six hundred, not thousand) in more recent years.

It was converted to an athletics stadium for the 2014 Commonwealth Games which were held in Glasgow. This entailed major changes, which put the stadium out of use for regular football purposes. During this time internationals were played at Celtic Park and Ibrox, with the cup finals taking place at Celtic park.

Hampden has also hosted three European Cup/Champions League finals, two European Cup Winners Cup finals and a UEFA Cup final, plus rugby union and boxing matches.

In addition to sports, the stadium has been used as a concert venue for many of the top acts in the world, from the Rolling Stones to Ed Sheeran. It is reported that in 2009 more people attended concerts at Hampden than attended football matches.

1.4 The Hampden Roar

The "Hampden Roar" is legendary and can be heard for miles around, usually after Scotland score a goal. Even though somewhat muted since the reduction in stadium capacity, it was measured at 115 decibels during a 2018 Old Firm match. Compare this to loudest EPL 'roar' of a mere 97 decibels, which was recorded at Anfield in 2011.

2 Celtic Park Stadium

Opening DateOwning ClubCurrent CapacityOriginal & Maximum CapacitiesRecord AttendanceStadium TypeUEFA CategoryWikipedia Article
13th August 1892Celtic FC 60,41140,000 & 80,00092,000 (1938)Square4Celtic ParkExternal link

NS6163 : Celtic Park from the air by Thomas Nugent
Opened in 1892, making it the oldest stadium in the city, the home of Celtic FC is located in the Parkhead district, around 1.9 miles east of the city centre.

The first Celtic Park was located in the vicinity of the current stadium, in the area in the top right corner of the adjacent aerial photo. The proximity of the old stadium to the Eastern Necropolis prompted one journalist to write that moving to the new stadium was like moving from the graveyard to paradise, a nickname which is still in use today.

NS6264 : Inside Celtic Park by edward mcmaihin NS6163 : Celtic Park by Thomas Nugent NS6163 : Celtic Park Christmas lights by Thomas Nugent NS6264 : Celtic Park, Parkhead, Glasgow by Stephen Sweeney NS6264 : Waiting for the Opening Ceremony by John Allan NS6263 : Celtic Park by Thomas Nugent

2.1 The first Celtic Park (1888-1902)

The first Celtic Park was conceived and built by volunteers over a six month period following the foundation of the club in 1887. Such was the financial success of the venture that the landlord of the ground raised the rent substantially several times, to the extent that the club decided to move to another location nearby. The location of the original Celtic Park is described as being to the east of the cemetery, which suggests it was at the corner of Dalmarnock Road and Janefield Street, an area which is occupied by housing and schools today.

2.2 The second Celtic Park (1902-present)

The new stadium site is on the opposite side of Janefield Street and slightly further west than the first one, but is still bounded by the cemetery, which is now on its north side. It was of an oval design with a cycling track and a running track around the football pitch. Cycling events were hugely popular and provided a second income for the club, with crowds of 10,000 spectators not uncommon. The World Cycling Championships were staged here in 1897. All trace of the oval was obliterated by the 1990s re-development. The new ground also set some firsts during its early years. The first press box in the UK was opened here in 1894 and the first two level grandstand in the world followed in 1898. The addition of the double-deck grandstand increased the ground's capacity to 50,000.

Fires were responsible for the destruction of three wooden stands at the ground over a 25 year period, which led to the construction of increasingly more robust structures, including a new grandstand by Archibald Leith in 1929.

Floodlights were introduced in 1959 and were used for the first time in a match against the English champions, Wolverhampton Wanderers. The floodlights enabled the introduction of mid-week European football, which is still a highlight of every season.

The next major redevelopment was in 1971 when the new 'main' stand was opened. A new front façade was added to this stand prior to the club's centenary season 1987/88.

The publication of the Taylor Report in 1990 brought the need for all major stadiums to be all-seater by August 1994. Celtic were in a precarious financial position at this time and reportedly came within hours of being declared bankrupt. Enter one Fergus McCann, a Scots-Canadian businessman, who took financial control of the club and started to rebuild the stadium with almost immediate effect. The present day 60,000 capacity stadium was built in stages, which entailed Celtic playing their home matches at Hampden Park Stadium during the 1994/95 season. The North Stand was the first to be opened, in 1995. This was followed by the Lisbon Lions Stand in 1996 and the Jock Stein Stand in 1998. This redevelopment resulted in the stadium format being changed from oval to square.

In 2016, in another UK first for the stadium, part of the North Curve section was kitted with rail seating, to create a 2,600 capacity "safe standing" area. Rail seating can be quickly converted from seating to standing, depending on the category of the match being played. For domestic games the seats are locked back out of the way and fans can stand and use the rails to lean against if they wish. For UEFA games where there is a requirement for fans to sit, the seats can be locked back in place. This has proven to be very successful and popular with the fans and has been regarded as a model for use in the EPL which announced plans to pilot safe seating at five stadiums in England and Wales.

Celtic Park has hosted many Scotland international games and cup finals, mainly during periods when Hampden was unavailable due to redevelopment (early 1990s) or in use for the Commonwealth Games (2014). The opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games was held here in the presence of HM Queen Elizabeth II.

In addition to sports, the stadium has been used as a concert venue for many of the top acts in the world, including The Who, Prince, Bryan Adams, U2 and Wet Wet Wet.

3 Ibrox Stadium

Opening DateOwning ClubCurrent CapacityOriginal & Maximum CapacitiesRecord AttendanceStadium TypeUEFA CategoryWikipedia Article
30th December 1899Rangers FC 50,81740,000 & 80,000118,567 (1928)Square5IbroxExternal link

NS5564 : Ibrox Stadium from the air by Thomas Nugent
Opened in 1899 as Ibrox Park and known as Ibrox Stadium since 1997, the home of Rangers FC is located in the Govan district, around 2.6 miles south west of the city centre.

The first Ibrox Park was located in the vicinity of the current stadium, in the area in the foreground of the adjacent aerial photo

NS5564 : Ibrox Stadium by Thomas Nugent NS5564 : Ibrox Stadium by Thomas Nugent NS5564 : Ibrox gates by Thomas Nugent NS5564 : Ibrox Stadium by Kenneth Hall NS5564 : The Sandy Jardine Stand at Ibrox Stadium by Steve Daniels NS5564 : The players' tunnel at Ibrox Stadium by Steve Daniels

3.1 The first Ibrox Park (1887-1899)

The original Ibrox park was located immediately to the east of the current stadium and in fact the footprints of the two grounds overlap. The final match at this first ground was played on 9th December 1899. During its short life, the ground hosted three Scotland international matches.

3.2 The second Ibrox Park (1899-Present)

The second and current ground opened on 30th December 1899. It followed the oval style of Hampden Park, Celtic Park and other Scottish grounds of that time, with a running track around the football pitch. With its 40,000 capacity, it competed with Hampden and Celtic Park to host the major matches in Scotland, including internationals and cup finals.

The ground was the site of a disaster during a 1902 Scotland v England match when part of a wooden grandstand collapsed, resulting in 25 fatalities and 500 injuries amongst the supporters. This disaster resulted in substantial improvements being made to the ground, including the formation of earth embankments to create the terraces, and the later construction of a new 10,000 seat grandstand in 1928. Expansion of the earth terraces continued in the 1930s and enabled 118,567 supporters to witness a match v Celtic in 1939, this is still the record attendance for a league match in the UK.

Floodlighting was added in 1953, and some terracing was roofed during the 1960s, after which the ground remained largely unaltered (although capacity was reduced to 80,000 on safety grounds) until the 1980s.

A further disaster struck the ground in January 1971 when 66 Rangers fans died as a result of crushing as they exited the ground via Stairway 13. Following this disaster, The Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975, resulted in a further reduction in capacity to 65,000 and the eventual complete redesign and reconstruction of the site.

Reconstruction took place over several phases from 1978 to 1981, the end product being a £10M 44,000 all seater stadium, based on the design of Borussia Dortmund's Westfalenstadion.

The 1990s brought further ground improvements which raised the capacity to just over 50,000. This was increased to the present 51,817 capacity by the addition of seats to the Govan Stand in 2006.

The ground was renamed to Ibrox Stadium in 1997.

Ibrox has hosted many Scotland international games and cup finals, mainly during periods when Hampden was unavailable due to redevelopment (early 1990s) or in use for the Commonwealth Games (2014). Rugby Union sevens events at Ibrox during the 2014 Commonwealth Games attracted over 171,000 supporters. Boxing has also been hosted at the stadium.

In addition to sports, the stadium has been used as a concert venue for many of the top acts in the world, including Frank Sinatra, Elton John, Billy Joel and Rod Stewart.

3.3 The first Ibrox Disaster (1902)

Disaster struck at a Scotland v England match on 5th April 1902 when part of a metal framed wooden stand (the West Tribune Stand) collapsed and hundreds of supporters fell around forty feet to the ground below, resulting in 25 fatalities. Bizarrely, by today's standards, the match continued after a short break and was played to a conclusion. This was due to concerns that abandonment of the match might hamper the rescue efforts as the 68,000 supporters attempted to leave the ground. The result was voided and a replay took place a few weeks later at Villa Park, Birmingham.

The collapse of the stand was later attributed to poor design, combined with uneven load distribution on the day due to the movement of supporters towards the rear of the stand which afforded a better view of the pitch (as a result of some fans having occupied the running track). The architect, Archibald Leitch, was naturally distraught as a result of the the event and vowed to rebuild a better Ibrox if given the opportunity (which he did). He also went on to design, or part design, a further twenty prominent football stadiums Around the UK.

3.4 The second Ibrox Disaster (1971)

Disaster struck again at Ibrox on 2nd January 1971, towards the end of the "Ne'erday" Old Firm match against Celtic which had attracted 80,000 supporters. Sixty six rangers fans lost their lives and a further two hundred were injured as the result of crushing on Stairway 13 as they headed for the exits. Thirty two of the victims were under twenty years old.

Investigations following the disaster revealed a history of accidents on stairway 13, including one which resulted in two deaths in 1961. Rangers FC was ruled to be at fault due to negligence and was sued for damages in sixty one cases brought by relatives of the deceased.

The Government appointed Scottish judge judge Lord Wheatley to conduct an inquiry, the findings of which formed the basis of the Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds (Green Guide), first published in 1973.

The disaster led to an almost complete rebuilding of the Ibrox ground. The Manager at the time (Willie Waddell) visited Borussia Dortmund's Westfalenstadion for inspiration and the influence of that stadium can be seen in the design of the present day Ibrox Stadium. By 1981, rebuilding had changed the format of the stadium from a bowl to a square, with three new stands contributing to the 44,00 capacity. Developments through the 1990s took the capacity up to 50,000, earning UEFA five star status as a result.
NS5564 : The 1971 Ibrox Disaster Memorial by Thomas Nugent
At the east end of the Bill Struth Main Stand. Erected in 2001 "In memory of the 66 fans who tragically died at stairway 13 on 2nd January 1971". John Greig was captain of Rangers in the 1970s and was voted best ever Rangers players in a poll of fans.

The sculpture is by Andy Scott LinkExternal link .

The memorial has changed since I last photographed it 10 years ago NS5564 : 1971 Ibrox Stadium Disaster Memorial.

THE 66 WHO DIED:

Bryan Todd, Robert McAdam, Peter Wright, John Gardiner, Richard Bark, William Thomson Summerhill, George Adams, John Neill, James Trainer.

Richard Douglas Morrison, James Whyte Rae, David Douglas McGee, Robert Colquhoun Mulholland, David Ronald Paton, George McFarlane Irwin, Ian Frew, John Crawford, Brian Hutchison.

Duncan McIsaac McBrearty, Charles John Griffiths Livingstone, Adam Henderson, Richard McLeay, David Cummings Duff, David Fraser McPherson, Robert Lockerbie Rae, Robert Campbell Grant, John McNeil McLeay.

David Anderson, John Buchanan, John McInnes Semple, John Jeffrey, Robert Maxwell, Matthew Reid, Alexander McIntyre, Peter Gilchrist Farries, Thomas Melville.

John James McGovern, George Wilson, Robert Charles Cairns, Hugh McGregor Addie, James Yuille Mair, Margaret Oliver Ferguson, Robert Turner Carrigan, George Alexander Smith, Walter Robert Raeburn.

Andrew Jackson Lindsay, Charles Dougan, William Mason Philip, Russell Morgan, Peter Gordon Easton, George Crockett Findlay, Charles Stirling, Thomas Dickson, James Graham Gray.

Thomas McRobbie, Ian Scott Hunter, Nigel Patrick Pickup, Russell Malcolm, Alexander Paterson Orr, Thomas Walker Stirling, James William Sibbald, Frankie Dover, Walter Shields, Thomas Grant, William Duncan Shaw, Donald Robert Sutherland.
by Thomas Nugent
Shared Description

NS5564 : The Ibrox Disaster Memorial by Steve Daniels NS5564 : Ibrox Greats by Bob Simpson NS5564 : 1971 Ibrox Stadium Disaster Memorial by Thomas Nugent NS5564 : Ibrox Stadium by Thomas Nugent
NS5564 : The 1971 Ibrox Disaster Memorial by Thomas Nugent NS5564 : Ibrox Memorial by Bob Simpson NS5564 : Ibrox Remembers 1971 by Bob Simpson


4 Firhill Stadium

Opening DateOwning ClubCurrent CapacityOriginal & Maximum CapacitiesRecord AttendanceStadium TypeUEFA CategoryWikipedia Article
18th September 1909Partick Thistle FC 10,10240,000 & 65,00054,723 (1928)SquareN/AFirhillExternal link

NS5867 : Firhill Park football ground by Mark Anderson
Opened in 1909, the home of Partick Thistle FC is located in the Maryhill district, around 1.6 miles north west of the city centre. It is also around 1.6 miles from Partick, where the club was established in 1876 and where they used several different grounds until being forced out of Meadowside Park in 1909 to make way for a shipyard.

The land on which the stadium stands was leased and then later purchased from the Caledonian Railway Company and is bounded on two sides by the Forth and Clyde Canal

NS5867 : Firhill Park by Thomas Nugent NS5867 : Partick Thistle Football Club by Philip Halling NS5867 : Firhill Park by Thomas Nugent NS5867 : Firhill Park by Thomas Nugent NS5867 : Partick Thistle Football Ground by Chris Upson NS5867 : Firhill Park by Stephen McKay

4.1 The first (and only) Firhill Stadium

The stadium is built on former industrial land within a bend on the Forth and Clyde Canal, adjacent to Firhill Basin. When it opened in 1909, the ground would have been surrounded by iron works, foundries and timber yards. Where there was heavy industry, there were lots of people too and this was a factor in the decision to move to Maryhill when forced out of Partick. The fact that there was no football club in the north west of the city as also a major consideration at that time.

Opening of the stadium, which was originally a bowl design, was delayed by one month at very short notice (fans were already outside the gates, waiting for the match to begin), due to safety regulations not being met. Some alterations to the slope of the terracing were required and these were completed within three weeks. During this time, the club's home games were played at Ibrox (actually just one game).

The capacity was increased to 60,000 in 1920 and further increased in 1921, although the desired 80,000 capacity was never delivered.

The present 'main' stand was opened in 1927, followed five years later by a reduction in capacity to 40,000 in order to accommodate greyhound racing facilities. Floodlights and a new grandstand were added in 1955. Two years later, in 1957, the greyhound racing facilities were removed, enabling an increase in capacity.

The next major development took place in 1994, when the Jackie Husband stand was opened.

In 2002, the club was compelled by the Scottish Premier League to increase capacity from 9,000 to a minimum of 10,000 in order to meet minimum seating requirements for SPL grounds. This resulted in the building of the John Lambie stand at the north side of the ground.

Between 2005 and 2017, several developments were proposed, which would result in a fourth stand being build at the south end of the ground. None of these ever came to fruition and that part of the ground remains open to the elements.

Firhill has hosted other sports over the years. Unlike Celtic Park and Ibrox, these were on-going concerns as opposed to one-off events. Glasgow Warriors professional Rugby Union team was resident at Firhill from 2005 until 2012 under a ground sharing scheme. They later moved out to Scotstoun Stadium which is around two miles to the west. Regular greyhound racing took place for almost thirty years from 1928 and provided a regular income to the club. The first Rugby League match in Scotland was held at Firhill in 1996 and was later one of the venues of the 2000 Rugby League World Cup. Boxing has also taken place regularly at Firhill, including the 1952 European Bantamweight title fight, when local lad Peter Keenan lost his title to the Belgian challenger Jean Sneyers in front of 30,000 supporters.
KML
You are not logged in login | register