As we weren’t due to check into our hotel until later in the afternoon, we had plenty of time to do another activity or visit beforehand. I always try and balance our trips so that some are more my type of thing, others are more what N would be interested in. This time I’d booked a Hampden Park national stadium tour. Hampden Park in Glasgow is where the Scotland National Football team play, as well as it being used for large events including sporting finals and matches.
Previously one of the oldest Scottish football teams, Queen’s Park, used to play at the stadium, but they moved out and will soon be moving into a stadium next door. As well as the stadium tour, the tickets also get you entry into the Scottish Football Museum which is inside Hampden Park.
We found the stadium easily, driving in and parking. On non match and non event days it’s free to park there which is handy, as it’s in a largely residential area. On the day we were there, there was a big Irish dancing competition going on, so there were busy periods in the cafe. But this didn’t impact the tour at all.
Tickets are bookable in advance, available on selected days, with a few slots over the day. Prices were cheaper than Wembley tour, but it was shorter at just under an hour, and obviously Wembley is much bigger with a longer tour. We didn’t actually have our tickets checked by anyone; we were sent to the cafe which has a waiting area for the tours.
We didn’t eat or drink in the cafe, but it was large and had quite a nice buzz to it.
The stadium tour
David was our tour guide. He had a lot of experience and knowledge and was whipping through the tour speeches. There was chance to ask questions although noone really did. A very quiet tour group on the whole.
The whole of the tour was accessible – we had someone in a wheelchair on our tour, and there were lifts they could use when we used the stairs up and down one level.
The tour started in the underpass where the teams arrive at the stadium on the bus. This was the only area we couldn’t take photos. David explained the home and away, (or east and west sides), and how that changes depending on the teams playing. The kit store was also in that area.
Then onto the changing rooms, Away and Home changing rooms. These are very white with all the lockers, and have the treatment room, showers and bath areas you can go in.
The away changing room had players jerseys from those who’d won cups and championships at Hampden Park National Stadium, while the home changing room had a selection of Scotland jerseys from mens and womens teams over the years. It was nice to be able to pick a jersey and have photos taken under them.
In the officials room we were allowed the ring the players bell that would tell them it was time to get to the tunnel ready to run out onto the pitch.
The tour guide told us various stories from those rooms. Not just about players, but singers and bands who’d used them in the past before their gigs as well.
Next was the warm up room. This is fake grass carpet so players can warm up – very different surface to that at Wembley. The room is also used for aftershow parties for singers/shows but just decorated differently according to their requests.
For a bit of interactivity, there was a goal set up for everyone to test the speed of their kicks which some took part in. You can collect your certificate for these at the end – we didn’t collect N’s. Although we didn’t see where to go for this anyway.
Unfortunately the players tunnel was closed due to work being done, so we went out to the stands via a different entrance.
After Wembley it did feel small, but there was still plenty to learn about. Hampden Park’s current capacity is over 51,800, but in the past before reconstruction and new regulations, the largest capacity recorded was over 149,000!
We learnt about the royal box, what the different VIP private boxes and areas are around the stadium. The police box area and commentary box were pointed out to use. And where the journalists sit sharing desks and computers. There were more seats for journalists than I expected.
Once the tour had finished, we were taken to the Scottish Football Museum situated only a short walk along a corridor.
Scottish Football Museum
The museum was the star of the show for us compared with the tour. Maybe if we were Scottish football supporters, it would have meant more to use. But the museum blew Wembley’s right out of the water in terms of size and what they cover.
There are different areas for the museum, starting with the real Scottish Cup which remains in there all the time, apart from the presentation each year at the final match.
Then you’re taken through the history of Scottish football, both mens and womens’ games.
The history of the stadium itself, the various different football teams and championships which have been played there. You see various caps, the Ally McCoist golden boot, old turnstyles from grounds.
The Euros gets an area, and there are different club and national jerseys to see.
We enjoyed sitting in the old stands and watching some old footage and information films.
There are also some interactive areas – different age phones which we should have been able to listen to commentary didn’t work for some reason. But we enjoyed playing table football for a bit. Not forgetting posing next to the cartoon thistle created for the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth games.
I liked that there was a good couple of areas focused on the womens game, and for those of us who support other countries, there was also the information about other matches and the Euros played at Hampden Park National Stadium and elsewhere in Scotland.
We both thought the museum and tour were good value for money, and worth a visit if you’re in the area.
Have you ever done a football stadium tour? Which football museums would you recommend?