Following the club’s move to the third Hampden Park in 1903, the minor elevens has difficulty in finding suitable pitches for their matches. To alleviate this, the club decided to rent an area of seven acres of ground to the south of the Main Stand, although because only two acres were required for the pitch the rest was let for sheep grazing! The pitch was called Lesser Hampden and opened in October 1908, although the surface was far from perfect, and with the growth of the motor vehicle in the 1920’s this area was used as a car park during matches and this further deteriorated the surface, and it was felt that another piece of land was required for a practice ground.
Map of Hampden in 1910 with the original Lesser Hampden to the South East
The area behind the West Stand was identified as a suitable area for the new pitch, although at this time it was literally a ploughed field as the area was part of Clincart Farm. When Hampden was opened this was almost open countryside, but by the 1910’s the Cathcart Circle railway line had brought a rapid expansion of housing in the area, and the field had become surrounded by flats on Cathcart Road, Somerville Drive and Mount Annan Drive.
New Lesser Hampden was opened in 1923 with a capacity of 12,000, and became the HQ for the Victoria XI and the Hampden XI, and was also used by the Strollers if the Hampden pitch was being protected for a big game.
The former farmhouse was converted into a pavilion and, following major renovations undertaken in 2015, this building is still used and is the oldest football building in the world.
With the advent of the Second World War in 1939 the pavilion at Lesser was taken over by a group called the Parashots, who were an early incarnation of the Local Defence Volunteers, who in turn became known as the Home Guard.
However the biggest threat Lesser Hampden faced during the war came from a Mr Blair, who turned up one day armed with ploughing orders for the playing surfaces of both Hampden and Lesser Hampden! The club’s committee were of the opinion that this would not apply to sports fields, so Mr Blair was sent on his way and no further was heard of the matter.
By the mid 1970’s Lesser was used occasionally for first team matches, usually to protect the pitch at Hampden in advance of big games, but the major redevelopment of Hampden in the 1990’s saw the construction of temporary buildings on the Somerville Drive side of the ground to house the administrative functions of the club. This was built in 1997 as a short term measure but ended up being used until 2013 following the financial issues surrounding the rebuilding of the main stadium.
The rebuilding of the main stadium also saw the first eleven play their home games at Lesser from September 1998 until the end of the 1998/99 season.
The European Cup Final of 2002 and the Cup Winners’ Cup Final of 2006 saw Lesser Hampden taken over to provide space for the hospitality marquees. Lesser was also utilised as the pre-match area for fans at American Football games when the Scottish Claymores played at Hampden, although the damage caused to the pitch by this had the side effect of making Lesser unusable for training or matches until several weeks into the season.
The next major change to Lesser came in the summer of 2007 when the grass pitch was lifted and replaced with an astroturf surface, which allowed the majority of youth team home games to be played at Lesser along with the Strollers matches and first team training.
Two additional changing rooms were added in front the temporary portakabin structure, then in the summer of 2012 construction began on a new changing rooms and offices for Queen’s on the Letherby Drive side of Lesser alongside the original pavilion.
This new building was required as not only was the temporary structure constructed in 1997 well past its best, but Lesser Hampden was to be taken over by the Commonwealth Games to allow construction of an athletics warm up track for the main track which would be housed in Hampden Park. This involved the old artificial surface being ripped up in November 2013 and all first team training, home Strollers and youth matches being played at Toryglen Sports Centre.
Once the Commonwealth Games were over the athletics track at lesser was ripped up and an artificial surface relaid, and Queen’s returned to Lesser in October 2014.
Since then, it has been used for first team training, as well as reserve and youth matches.
With the sale of the main Hampden stadium completed in the summer of 2020, Lesser Hampden is under redevelopment, with plans for two stands on the East and West sides of the ground with a combined capacity of around 1,800.
Below are a selection of pictures showing Lesser Hampden through the years: