sport news The future of the original Hampden hangs in the balance  

sport news The future of the original Hampden hangs in the balance  
sport news The future of the original Hampden hangs in the balance  

A padlocked pavilion on the south side of Glasgow is all that remains of the world's first purpose-built football stadium.

The terraced slopes, changing rooms, turnstiles, season books and player baths of the first Hampden Park set the template for Wembley, the Maracana, the Santiago Bernabeu and the San Siro to follow. And at the Annual General Meeting of the Hampden Bowling Club on Sunday night, the old place could be mothballed forever.

A tarpaulin sheet covers a roof riddled with asbestos and leaking Victorian tiles. The doors of the iconic pavilion are now double bolted. And, 24 hours after the third and current Hampden plays host to 50,000 fans in a World Cup qualifier against Israel, the fate of its older sibling will be placed in the hands of the local community.

A registered charity, the bowling club - and the history it entombs - will be wound up unless new committee members raise their hands in the air. For anyone bold enough, the task thereafter is to raise the £150,000 needed to restore the building which sheltered Andrew Watson, Charles Campbell and the revolutionary Scotch Professors - inventors of the passing game - from the wind and rain.

The original Hampden Park, the first purpose-built football stadium in the world,  is at risk of being demolished as members of the bowling club need to raise £150,000 to save it

The original Hampden Park, the first purpose-built football stadium in the world,  is at risk of being demolished as members of the bowling club need to raise £150,000 to save it 

'Sunday is D-Day,' says Fifer Graeme Brown, stepping down as club secretary after six-and-a-half years. 'It's massive. We have an AGM and the 70-plus members are invited plus members of the community.

'At the end of the meeting, the existing committee will stand down and we will try to re-elect at least five new trustees of the charity.

'If we can't do that, the bowling club - and the first Hampden - will be lost on Sunday night.

'I think we will get a committee. But it needs the right committee to drive it on.

'The bowling club is owned by City Properties, an arm of Glasgow City Council. If we don't exist, the lease will be terminated and revert to City Properties.

'The best case scenario is for someone with a football interest to come along and throw a ring of steel around it for a while until we sort out what happens next.'

When Brown moved home to Kingsley Avenue in 2011, he knew nothing of the origins of the lawn bowling club across the road. Responding to a flyer through the door appealing for new members he joined the club as a social member a year later. The obsession which would fuel his every waking hour was taking root.

'When I joined as a social member I walked past three framed pictures,' he recalls. 'Alec Gray was a retired member and he asked me if I knew the history. I'm actually a Glenrothes boy who moved to Glasgow when I was 17 and never left.

A drone shot shows the stricken bowling club (bottom) and the current Hampden Park (top)

A drone shot shows the stricken bowling club (bottom) and the current Hampden Park (top)

'I had no idea of the history and he said to me: "You're sitting on the site of the first Hampden".

'He then brought through the three pictures. One featured the first Scottish Cup final, played here. The second was a picture of the first Hampden pavilion with the Queen's Park committee sitting outside in 1878. The third pic was the scorecard from Wanderers vs Queen's Park in 1875.

'He told me the ladies changing room as it is today was the England team's changing room. And we were sitting in the Scotland changing room filling out my membership form.

'I said: "What you on about? Hampden is up the road…"

'He said: "No, no, that's the third Hampden built. Cathkin Park was the second and this was the original".

'The problem, Alec told me, was that there was no map to prove it. No one believed them.'

It took time and dogged detective work to find proof that the bowling club was indeed the home to Queen's Park and Scotland's national team for a decade between 1873 and 1883. Confirmation arrived on Saturday March 11, 2017; the 135th anniversary of the day Scotland thrashed England

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