Scottish pride is hard to define but it is a feeling that starts on the outside and quickly travels inward triggering a variety of emotions not commonly seen from a scotsman – shivers start to migrate down the spine, the hairs on your legs and arms stand at attention, your feet start to move in a bouncing motion and a broad smile creeps onto your face. There have only been a few times in my life where this type of pride has overtaken me and more often than not it was in Hampden Park. Standing on a cold windy day in the upper terraces of Scotland’s national stadium alongside 51,000 fellow Scots, the first chords of The Proclaimers 500 Miles would start to blast over the loud speakers. The crowd slowly starts to jump as one, eventually becoming one as the vocals kick in. When i wake up well i know i’m gonna be i’m gonna be the man who wakes up next to you! The stadium eventually erupts as scottish pride reaches fever pitch with the chorus – tadalalala tadalalala tadalalala tadalalalalalal.
Those are the memories along with the hundreds more created over the years on that pitch – Scotland battling the Magical Magyars of Hungary in 1954 in front of 113,506 fans, Dalglish goal against England in ’76, McFadden’s goal against Holland in 2003 just a few examples that the fans will take with them if Scotland is to leave Hampden. After a 111 year stay, the Scottish Football Association is considering whether or not to renew its lease (which expires in 2020) of the national stadium or blow the final whistle on the Mount Florida Stadium. The SFA are consulting with various groups as they review the options including renewing the lease for another ten years or parting ways in favour of playing the games around the country or at another stadium like Murrayfield in Edinburgh. Traditionally a Rugby venue, Murrayfield has played host to several big events over the years since it refurbishment in 2005 and could easily accommodate the Scottish football team as well.
That option has been met with much publicized rejection primarily by former players who maintain that Hampden’s history and legacy should be saved despite the crumbling stadiums growing list of problems. However the fans appear to feel differently and are hoping that their voices are heard. A recent survey of 2,293 fans by the Scottish Football Supporters Association found in favour of leaving with only 15% of the fans wanting to stay with 34% favouring a switch to Murrayfield. Of the remaining, 25% believe that the national teams should play their games on the road across Scotland’s various stadiums whilst 24% believe that a new Hampden should be built. That option seems incredibly unlikely given that the SFA has barely two pennies to rub together.
Leaving Hampden makes the most sense. Whilst a negotiation would be needed to secure either Murrayfield as a central base or with the various grounds it would likely be cheaper than renewing the existing lease. Those savings could be diverted into improving Scotland’s future chances of qualification with youth investments in line with Project Brave ( the SFA’s blueprint for future development). Those concerned that moving to another stadium will result in a loss of atmosphere need not worry as it wasn’t the stadium that filled me with Scottish pride but the fans themselves. There is a reason why the Scottish fans are missed at major tournaments and it has nothing to do with whats happening on the pitch. The fans make the atmosphere and will do so regardless of where the national team plays its games. Hampden’s legacy will be maintained in our memories and in the archives but its time for Scotland to move on, leave home and write a new chapter filled with lots of scottish pride.