Monday 13 April 2020

Hampden Park: Six Classic Matches

Hampden Park in Glasgow which is home to Scottish lower league amateur side Queen's Park is also the country's national stadium. The venue plays host to the national team and also the nation's two major domestic cup finals. Hampden was once the country's largest stadium and for many years it regularly drew crowds of well over 100,000 to it. The stadium has hosted some fascinating matches over the years, from epic Scotland v England battles to thrilling domestic and European Cup finals. Here are six of the best.

England v Scotland, Home International, 1937
When 149,415 Scottish supporters turned up to Hampden for the visit of England in 1937 it was a record attendance for football in Britain, it still is. At the time it was also a world record, today only beaten by the 199,854 who turned up to see Brazil v Uruguay at the 1950 World Cup. The game was also the first ever all-ticket Scotland match. There was a big rivalry between the two British sides and fans had turned up for what would be another cracking encounter between these two old foes.

For those unable to get a ticket, following the match would prove rather problematic. The Scottish FA refused to allow live national radio commentary which in the days before the internet or television sets in every home would have realistically been the only way to follow the game. This decision was taken as in the past radio broadcasts on Scotland matches had been seen as having a negative effect on attendances at local games around the country on those days.

As for the match itself, England took the lead on 40 minutes thanks to a ten-yard shot from Fred Steele following a perfect pass from Ronald Starling. England had played well up to that point and their goal according to the match report in The Times the following Monday was 'one worthy of the football they had played'. England's lead did not last too long, however, as two minutes into the second-half  Scotland drew level. The goal was an easy finish from Frank O'Donnell which came after a Thomas Walker cross. The scores remained level until the 80th minute when Scotland took the lead. Bob McPhail knocked home a loose ball following a Douglas Duncan shot which was blocked. Duncan's shot had come after the keeper failed to hold on to the ball from a James Delaney cross. Scotland lead 2-1 and eight minutes later that became 3-1, again thanks to a goal from Bob McPhail. McPhail's second was a header and came from an Andrew Anderson free-kick. McPhail would in total score seven times in 17 appearances for this country but these two came on the biggest occasion of all, a Scotland/England clash. The match ended 3-1, Scotland had beaten the 'auld enemy' and England had lost four away matches in a row which was an unwelcome feat they had last achieved between 1874 and 1880.

The Scotland fans could go home happy having seen their team victorious and as for record crowd, well many of the spectators would actually be back again the following week with 147,365 in attendance as Celtic beat Aberdeen 2-1 in the Scottish Cup final. This is seemingly claimed to be the highest ever attendance for a club match in Europe and I would have thought the world. Certainly, if there has ever been a bigger club attendance outside the continent I am unaware of it!

Glasgow Celtic v Leeds United, European Cup semi final, 1970
The two well above 100,000 attendances mentioned so far in this piece are not the only six figure crowds Hampden Park has witnessed, there have actually been many more. One such other occasion where there was a six figure attendance came in the second leg of a European Cup tie that became known as the 'Battle of Britain'. This saw Scottish side Glasgow Celtic face Leeds United of England in the semi finals of the 1969-70 competition.

Knowing how important the home crowd could be for his side, Celtic manager Jock Stien decided to move the match from the clubs Celtic Park home to the national stadium across town and some 136,505 turned up, to this day a European Cup record. Whilst a ticket price increase saw a slightly lower than expected attendance at Elland Road for the first leg, Hampden Park would be nearly three times as full.

Celtic had won the first leg at Elland Road by one goal to nil with many in the media suggesting Leeds had been outthought and outplayed. Leeds manager Don Revie had rested key players for prior league games to prioritise this European Cup tie but in that first match it clearly hadn't paid off. 

Before the second leg, there was the matter of two cup finals. 108,434 saw favourites Celtic lose 3-1 to Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden whilst at Wembley Leeds drew 2-2 with Chelsea in the FA Cup final. Leeds would have to partake in a replay, one which they ultimately lose but that came after their visit to Hampden, however. Having already lost out to Everton for the First Division championship, Leeds did not yet know it, but their season rested solely on the European Cup - this despite Don Revie's men having been at one point seemingly heading for the treble.

Maybe the pressure had been too much for Leeds captain Billy Bremner in the first leg, after all, he was a Scotsman and a lifelong Celtic fan. That did not seem to matter in the second leg, however, as he put his side in front after just 14 minutes. A right-footed screamer from 30 yards went in off the post and Leeds were back level in the tie as Hampden Park was silenced. Leeds dominated most of the first-half but were unable to score a second and the visitors had to settle for a 1-0 lead at the break.

Celtic came out a different side in the second period and roared on by the massive wall of home support seemed on fire right from off. The visitors, meanwhile, were beginning to tire. It was only a matter of time before the hosts found an equaliser, two minutes to be exact. The Leeds defence failed to deal with a short corner, David Hay played a smart pass to Bertie Auld and Yogi Hughes was there to head home from Auld's cross having outmuscled Jack Charlton to the ball.

A collision saw Leeds goalkeeper Gary Sprake leave the field injured and it wasn't long before his replacement David Harvey conceded. Four minutes after Celtic drew level they were in front. Jimmy Johnstone dummied the ball past Norman Hunter and played the ball to Bobby Murdoch whose low drive slipped through the 'keeper's hands. 2-1 on the night, Celtic 3-1 up on aggregate. Leeds had chances for an equaliser, most notably when Johnny Giles fired wide from six yards out on 72 minutes, but Celtic held firm and it was they who ended up victorious with a 2-1 win sending them through to a second European Cup final in three years. 

Celtic would lose to Feyenoord in the final but the supporters at Hampden that night were not to know that. At the end, a jubilant crowd stayed behind for 20 minutes demanding a lap of honour from their heroes who duly obliged. Celtic had, as The Glasgow Herald put it, 'crowned themselves Champions of Britain at Hampden Park'.

Hibernian v Glasgow Rangers, Scottish Cup final, 2016
Heading to more recent times, the next match brought to you took place just four years ago. Hibernian are traditionally one of the bigger names in Scottish football, but even so, Glasgow Rangers are definitely a much bigger one. Both sides, however, had been playing in the second tier when they met at Hampden for the 2016 Scottish Cup final. 

Rangers, having gone bankrupt had reformed as a new company four years earlier and had to start their new life in the fourth tier. Having initially secured two straight promotions they entered the cup final having just been promoted back to the top flight after two seasons in the second tier Scottish Championship. Hibernian went into the final having lost in the promotion play-offs in what was also their second season in the Championship having been relegated from the top flight a couple of years earlier. 

Rangers had won the Scottish Cup 33 times but Hibs had surprisingly won it only twice and the last of those two victories had come some 114 years earlier. Since then they had been runners up 10 times most recently a distressing 5-1 defeat to Edinburgh rivals Heart of Midlothian just three years earlier. It was an itch they were the desperate to rid themselves of.

The match itself was an absolute cracker. Hibernian were in front after just three minutes when Anthony Stokes ran into the Rangers penalty area before adeptly placing the ball beyond Rangers 'keeper Wes Foderingham. Rangers, meanwhile, looked nervous and were making too many mistakes with passes going astray and possession easily lost. Ultimately Hibs were unable to capitalise on this, however, and it actually took only 24 minutes after that Hibs goal for Rangers to get their act together and score themselves. A James Tavernier cross saw Kenny Miller leap above Hibs defender Darren McGregor to head home the equaliser. There were chances aplenty with poor defending giving the attackers lots of opportunities but the score remained level at the break.

When the second-half was 19 minutes old Rangers took the lead. Andy Halliday was allowed time manoeuvre before shooting from 25yds out with his shot flying past Conrad Logan in the Hibs goal. Rangers might have thought they'd won the match until Stokes grabbed his second on 80 minutes to draw his side level. Liam Henderson, on as a sub, saw Stokes head home at the near post from one of his free-kicks. 2-2 and the game was seemingly heading for extra-time but there was one more twist in the tale and it came in the second minute of stoppage time. Henderson was involved again, this time he took a corner and David Gray was the hero as he headed home from said corner. Hibernian went 3-2 up and the scenes were wild. Their fans could not believe it, after 114 years they were on the verge of finally winning the cup again. 

Scoring so late in the day Hibs did not have to hold on for long and at full-time, their fans fled onto the pitch in jubilation. The Rangers fans joined them but the police were quick to react and stop any potential trouble leaving the fans from Edinburgh to celebrate peacefully what was a momentous occasion. With that injury time winner there had been a dramatic finale to what had been an action packed game and a true cup final classic as Hibs ended their mammoth wait for another a Scottish Cup trophy.

Glasgow Celtic v Glasgow Rangers, Scottish Cup final (replay), 1909

The 1909 Scottish Cup final between Glasgow Celtic and Glasgow Rangers is perhaps remembered more for the violence that occurred after the replay than any of the action on the pitch. Both matches were held at Hampden Park with the first match ending in a 2-2 draw before the replay the following week.

Goals from Jimmy Quinn for Celtic and Jimmy Gordon for Rangers saw the replay level at 1-1 and with little in the way major action on the field during the second-half the match drifted towards a draw. The fans in attendance, some 60,000 spectators, were hoping for extra-time and did not fancy the prospect of forking out another shilling for a third match. 

At full-time, the players were not sure what was happening but eventually left the field when they realised extra-time was not scheduled. The fans not realising there would be no extra play hung around in the stadium but some perhaps getting a little bored eventually decided to run onto the pitch. It was all good humoured at first but eventually, things turned sour. According to some reports, a half intoxicated dancing man was assaulted by a police officer and things escalated from there. 

The Scottish Football Association (SFA) announced a second replay would take place the following Wednesday and then things got out of hand. Bottles and stones were thrown and fans tried to invade the dressing rooms but that was foiled and some fans then started dismantling the goalposts. Baton charges by the police proved ineffective and fans set alight barricades torn from the terraces. A battle between fans and police lasted till about 7pm before the last of the fans finally dispersed with injuries on both sides estimated at around 100 in total. Damage from the riot was estimated at £8,000, nearly a million pounds in today's money. Despite all this, one newspaper reported that 'only one man was arrested in the course of the outbreak'. Others claimed that there were more arrests but regardless, in reality, the numbers were, all things considered, probably rather small. The police struggled to keep order and arrests seemingly proved difficult.

The third match did not take place. The SFA wanted to play the match outside of Glasgow but both clubs refused and the SFA decided to cancel the match and withhold the medals and the trophy. No one would win the cup that year.

Violence, when the Glasgwegian rivals known as the 'Old Firm' faced each other, would occur on numerous occasions over the years, most famously after the 1980 cup final that became known as the 'riot cup final'. Wild west battles between rival supporters when they invaded the pitch saw some of the worst football violence Britain has ever seen.

Eintracht Frankfurt v Real Madrid, European Cup final, 1960
As far as European Cup finals go, the 1960 edition was an all-time classic. The final saw a thumping display from Spanish side Real Madrid as they won Europe's premier competition for the fifth straight season having won all of the first four editions of the recently introduced tournament. 

Some 127,621 people turned up at Hampden Park to see Europe's number one side and they were in for a treat although the match didn't start as predicted with Real Madrid's German opponents Eintracht Frankfurt taking the lead 18 minutes in. Real Madrid found themselves 3-1 up at the interval, however, responding with two goals from Argentinian-cum-naturalised Spaniard Alfredo Di Stefano on 27 and 30 minutes and a third coming from Hungarian international Ferenc Puskás on the stroke of half-time. Two of football's all-time greats proving too good for Eintracht. First, Brazillian Canário weaved past several players before a low drive across the box allowed Di Stefano to draw the sides level. Di Stefano's second three minutes later was another close range effort coming after an initial shot from Canário was blocked by the 'keeper whilst for the third Puskás smashed the ball into the net from just outside the six-yard box having picked up the ball on the edge of the area when Eintracht's defence failed to clear the ball.

Eleven minutes into the second-half Real Madrid went 4-1 up with Puskás scoring from the spot to grab his second. 4-1 was 5-1 just four minutes later and it was that man Puskás scoring again to complete his hat-trick. Real Madrid broke after picking up the ball all too easily from an Eintracht corner and eventually a handsome through ball from Luis del Sol perfectly found Francisco Gento who fired the ball across the box for Puskás to knock home. Eleven minutes after their fifth Europe's finest side grabbed a sixth as Puskás nabbed his fourth. Di Stefano drove the ball into the box where Puskás, in plenty of space, turned and powered the ball home. The Spaniards really were ruthless. A minute after Puskás made it 6-1 it was 6-2, however. Erwin Stein did well to keep hold of the ball before firing it into the net. Stein would grab another consolation four minutes later after Real Madrid failed to clear the ball, a rare mistake from the Spaniards, but inbetween his two goals Real Madrid grabbed a seventh. Di Stefano became the second player to grab a hat-trick for Real Madrid that night as a thunderbolt shot rattled the net with the goalkeeper almost looking keen to get out of the way. 7-3 was the final score.

This pulsating European Cup final is to date the highest scoring final the competition has ever seen and, along with a 4-0 FC Bayern München victory in a 1974 replay, it is also the joint highest winning margin in a final. Real Madrid's era of dominance abruptly came to an end the following season, however. Having lost out to arch rivals FC Barcelona in the league title race, Barça then beat them 4-3 on aggregate in the first round of the 1960-61 European Cup. Barça lost to SL Benfica in the final and Benfica would win the competition two seasons running defeating Real Madrid themselves in the final a season later. A further final defeat for Real Madrid followed in 1964 before winning the competition again in 1966 but it would be then another 15 years before they reached the final again and a further ten before they won it. 

That memorable night at Hampden was a fitting end to an era, one that had seen Real Madrid truly dominate European club football.

Bayer 04 Leverkusen v Real Madrid, Champions League final, 2002
Our final match, the 2002 UEFA Champions League final, is mostly remembered for one moment - Zinadine Zidane's goal. But What a goal it was!

Real Madrid had won the European Cup/Champions League a record eight times whilst opponents Bayer 04 Leverkusen had one sole UEFA Cup title to the name, the one major highlight of a mostly unglamorous history in UEFA competitions. The pair were due to meet in the final of the 2001-02 Champions League at Hampden Park and unsurprisingly Real Madrid were favourites.

When the match got underway it didn't take long for a couple of goals to be scored. The first goal came for Real Madrid and it took just 9 minutes for them to take the lead. A low shot from Raúl found the net after Hans-Joerg Butt went to ground early and messed up what should have been an easy save. Leverkusen were level just five minutes later, however, when a Lúcio header from six yards out found the net after a cross from the left. A shock equaliser.

It was almost 1-1 at the break but in first-half stoppage time, Frenchman Zinedine Zidane had other ideas. The Real Madrid star and World Cup winner scored one of the all-time classic Champions League/European Cup final goals. The right footed £47m man hit a left footed volley from 17 yards out smashing it into the back of the net after a high ball into the box from Roberto Carlos dipped. A truly sensational goal from, at the time, the world's most expensive footballer. Wow factor 8 or 9 as Zidane single handedly put his side back in front.

Leverkusen looked the better team for large parts of the second-half but never really threatened the Real Madrid goal too much, their only real chance coming when Dimitar Berbatov headed over from 10 yards out. Real Madrid had chances of their own through Fernando Morientes and Míchel Salgado but ultimately there were no goals in that second period. 

Zinedine Zidane had produced what would end up being one of the iconic moments of European football in the Champions League era. He had won Real Madrid the Champions League by scoring an absolutely stunning goal to earn them yet another European title.

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