THE FIRST HAMPDEN
After the clubs formation in 1867, Queen's played nine ordinary (friendly in today's terms) games between 1868 and 1871, both home and away. However, they had no fixed home, and there was a great desire amongst the membership to establish a place they could call home.
The club were offered ground near Dixon's Blazes, the famous ironworks based in the Gorbals area of the city, but this was rejected on the grounds that it was too far from the clubs origins in the Langside area. Queen's were determined to stay local, but an attempt to rent part of the Queen's Park Recreation Ground was rejected by the City Council early in 1873.
Queen's weren't put off by this refusal, and a second bid was more successful, with the council agreeing on 21st October 1873 to lease the ground to the club for a period of six months at a cost of twenty pounds. At the time the ground lay on the east side of Cathcart Road, but now lies on the west side of the road as the route of Cathcart Road was altered to cater for the Cathcart Circle train service in 1883. The area of the ground where Queen's originally played is now covered by the railway, the Hampden bowling club, some flats and the bottom part of Queen's Park Recreation Ground.
The bowling club and flats that occupy part of the original Hampden site
The next thing to be decided was what to call their new home. Just to the south of their 200 yard by 100 yard pitch was Prospecthill, upon which local builder George Eadie had recently built a row of flats. He had called this terrace Hampden Terrace, after John Hampden, a parliamentarian and General in Cromwell's army in the English Civil War. As this terrace dominated the local landscape, the name was taken for the new ground.
Queen's didn't hang about, and the first game at their home ground was played on 26th October, only five days after the council had agreed to lease the ground to them. The game was the club's first Scottish Cup tie, and resulted in a 7-0 victory against Dumbreck. This game was also the first time that the famous black and white hooped jerseys were worn by the club.
Queen's were still not the master of their own destiny, and after the initial lease on the ground had expired the best terms they could extract from the council to extend their stay was at a rate of £6 per acre per annum, but the council could also give the club three months notice to quit.
Despite the lack of security over their tenancy, Queen's strived to improve their ground and built a stand, eighty yards long and six seats deep, in 1876 at a cost of £306 13s 3d. While this was undoubtedly a huge amount at the time, Queen's were regularly operating in the black as their gate receipts grew and grew as football mushroomed in popularity. Indeed, at the time the new stand was constructed, the club already had over six hundred season ticket holders.
The original pavilion was a bit of a ramshackle affair, indeed it had no running water or sanitation until May 1875. This structure was replaced in 1878 by the purchase, at a cost of £65, of the Caledonian Cricket Club's pavilion, which was taken down and reconstructed at Hampden at a cost of £84. While even the new pavilion was not ideal, the club were reluctant to invest in too big a structure that could not easily be moved while their lease was for such a short term.
It should perhaps be explained here that the stand and pavilion were completely separate structures, a common way of building football grounds in these pioneering days. The last such example of this in Scotland was at Broomfield in Airdrie.
The pavilion at the first Hampden Park, circa 1878
The worry about the club's tenure was to prove well founded, as the expansion of Glasgow resulted in the building of the Cathcart Circle railway line. Unfortunately the planned route for the railway went right across their pitch, and the club were told to move by May 1883.The second Hampden Park
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