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Celebrating Scottish Footballing History

Date: 29th April 2021

It seems everyone in Scotland is looking forward to this summer’s European Championships. 

Unfortunately a fair chunk of the Tartan Army won’t be allowed into the games at Hampden or Wembley.

So if you love your Scottish football and want to get a fix before the tournament starts, I believe there’s plenty of history on our doorstep that we can enjoy for free. 

With the national lockdown winding down, then there’s lots of special places for supporters to visit. 

Now I’ve concentrated my efforts to the West of Scotland; Glasgow, Ayrshire and Lanarkshire. Although there’s stuff all over the country, from Dumfries to Edinburgh and beyond. 


Obviously Glasgow is full of footballing history as you’re almost falling over stadiums. 

In the west end, take a trip to Firhill home of Partick Thistle and checkout the wonderful mural on a wall just as you arrive at stadium. Be warned cars love parking in front of the art work, so you might not get that all important Instagram picture without them somewhere in the background. You should also checkout the outside of the main stand, very traditional!

Heading deeper into the west end and you might stumble upon the old headquarters of the SFA. At 6 Park Gardens, there’s still a mosaic of the Scotland badge at the top of the steps.

You’ll find plenty of cafes, bars and restaurants in the trendy west end area. At Park Gardens, you can also walk through Kelvingrove Park and head towards the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum which has just reopened.  

Before departing from the west end, I suggest going into the Partick area and checking out the West of Scotland Cricket Ground, Hamilton Crescent on Peel Street. This is the destination of the first ever international football match. It was here in 1872 that 4000 attendees watched Scotland host England in a 0-0 draw. Without that match we might not have had a World Cup or a Euros.

The ground now also holds a small garden centre, which is nice for a wee peruse. It also gives you a reason for entering into the ground and taking it all in. There’s a couple of plaques referring to the first international game and for hosting a Scottish Cup final between Rangers and Vale of Leven.


Across the River Clyde, you’ll find Ibrox Stadium. Personally I love taking pictures of the main stand on Edmiston Drive, as it is one of the best examples of football architecture. There is also a statue of John Greig, arguably the club’s greatest captain. The statue commemorates those that lost their lives during the Ibrox Stadium disasters in the twentieth century.


On the site of first Hampden in Glasgow’s southside, there’s a fantastic mural celebrating Scotland’s historic win over England in 1882. Playing that day for Scotland was Andrew Watson, the first international black footballer, and he’s proudly displayed here. For the best vantage point head to Cathcart Road! 

There’s also a nice mural of Andrew Watson and Pele in a lane just off Kilmarnock Road in Shawlands. I’d love to see a statute of Watson being erected in Glasgow’s Southside, perhaps at the other end of the bowling club. 

Just across the road (Cathcart Road) from the first Hamden, you’ll fall onto the site of Second Hampden at Cathkin Park. The ground has pretty much remained empty since former tenants Third Lanark were dissolved in 1967, the same year Celtic won the European Cup. 

Cathkin Park remains a very eerie and even magical place for any ground-hopping football fan. The terraces remain there with volunteers trying to fight mother nature to reclaim the land. I feel it would be an ideal place to hold an open air museum. 

You might fancy completing the Hampden set by visiting our current home in Mount Florida. Be sure to lookout for Lesser Hampden and the nice bit of street art which is dedicated to former Queen’s Park captain Edwin Garvie, who tragically lost his life during the First World War. 


Also in Glasgow’s Southside you have Cathcart Cemetery.

If you enjoy an atmospheric walk and have no issues with graveyards then this is worth a visit to pay some respect to some of our game’s founding fathers. There’s quite a few former players, managers and football presidents in Cathcart Cemetery. The @Hampdeners and @CathcartCem are hosting a fascinating talk on how Scotland invented the beautiful game and how Cathcart Cemetery is the final resting place of many of the early pioneers of world football. It’s an online event, so get your tickets for next Thursday here

The three graves I visited last weekend were RS McColl, Hugh MacColl and Willie Maley. 

RS McColl was a former Rangers and Scotland player who went on to start a newsagents. There’s still a few RS McColl’s within the Glasgow area today. Hugh MacColl was a founding member of Sevilla FC and he was also the Spanish club’s first ever captain. Willie Maley and his brother Tom played in Celtic’s first ever game. Willie would go on to manage the Hoops (their first official boss), remaining in charge for over forty years! 

When a Celtic supporter found the Maley grave, he discovered it was in disrepair. One blog later saw a group of Celtic fans come together to form The Celtic Graves Society and they helped fund repair works to the great man’s gravestone. Once again showing how fans can come together and make something special happen.


At Celtic Park in the city’s east end, the club have a few statues dedicated to their champions. 

Pictured is legendary manager Jock Stein, who guided Celtic to the European Cup and to nine league titles in a row. There’s also Jimmy Johnstone, Billy McNeill and Brother Walfrid statues outside the ground. The club shop has reopened for any souvenir hunters.


In Lanarkshire there’s two statues of wonderful wingers produced from that area. 

In Hamilton, you’ve got this stunning Davie Cooper bronze statute. The magnificent player is ideally situated looking onto the football pitches at the Hamilton Palace Grounds. 


Down the road in Viewpark there’s the Jimmy Johnstone memorial garden. It’s great that the local community still take pride in the fact that they helped nurture Celtic’s greatest ever talent!

How Scotland could do with those two world class Lanarkshire wingers within their ranks now. Uddingston isn’t too far away from Viewpark and if the statue hunting has got you feeling all nostalgic then head along to the Tunnock’s Tearoom on the Main Street. It’s always nice to support local businesses when you’re venturing out. 


In the seaside town of Saltcoats, they too celebrate a Lisbon Lion. Bobby Lennox was born in the town and he takes pride of place as you head into the centre just across from the train station. 

We spent a lovely morning in Saltcoats. The sun was shining and we queued up to get a couple of filled breakfast rolls from The Kandy Bar. It was the splendid statue that brought us there but we stayed due to the nice weather and the bustling town centre. Plus who doesn’t like seeing the seaside? It was a fine weekend treat after a dismal winter lockdown. 

In East Ayrshire there’s Glenbuck. Well there was Glenbuck, the mining town has since been demolished.

Yet this town was the birthplace of the great Bill Shankly. Liverpool fans helped in getting this memorial stone placed in the site of the old town, overlooking where the football pitch used to be. It still gets visits from diehard Red supporters, who never forget what fantastic work he did in making Liverpool a footballing superpower. 


The town’s local team the Glenbuck Cherrypickers produced a wealth of footballing talent. Formed some time in the 1870s they lasted until 1932, producing around fifty professional footballers within that short time. 

It’s a real shame that the area wasn’t preserved and used as an open air attraction like New Lanark or Summerlee. A cafe, a recreation of Shankly’s house and a football pitch there would definitely add more life and attract more visitors. 

I wish the Scottish tourist board would see that football and it’s history can bring people to different places within Scotland. From statues and graves in Dumfries to the stunning pitch on Eriskay. 

Yet we don’t have trails or websites to guide potential visitors. Why isn’t there more statues, murals or plaques honouring heroes like Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Kenny Dalglish, Billy Bremner, Ally MacLeod and the like in Govan, Stirling and Ayr? 

We should do more to celebrate local heroes and those that the working class can identify with! 

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