Glasgow 2014: How the city embraced the Games?

George Square George Square, like so many other places across the city, has been "buzzing" during the Games

"The city is buzzing" is a phrase heard countless times over the past fortnight.

Be it on the train to work caught up among the throngs of excited spectators heading to various sporting venues, from the commentators on the TV and radio, or from ordinary folks just out and about soaking up the atmosphere.

This was billed as the "friendly Games" and boy did Glasgow deliver.

"I can't believe how alive the city is. The vibrancy is quite amazing," says volunteer Alastair MacDonald.

He's one of the red and grey Clydesiders - the faces of the Games - on duty in George Square where visitors, spectators, athletes, volunteers, and locals have gathered over the past 11 days to experience the buzz.

"Everyone is loving it. Everyone is smiling," he adds.


  • Nearly 3.5 million people passed through Central Station
  • More than 50,000 cuddly Clyde Mascots sold
  • About 171,000 attended the Rugby Sevens - a record-breaking number for the sport
  • Well over one million people visited the Glasgow 2014 website each day
  • More than 500,000 people visited the Live Site at Glasgow Green
  • Well over a million mentions of Glasgow 2014 on social networks since the opening ceremony
  • 15,000 Clydesiders volunteered at the Games
  • More than 1,500 paid staff working at the organising committee
  • 30,000 contractors
  • 1,800 Host City volunteers
  • 1.2 million tickets sold

It's almost seven years since Glasgow won the bid to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Since then brand-spanking new venues and a purpose-built village to house the athletes have sprung up in the east end and the national football stadium has been transformed into a world-class athletics track.

The road to Glasgow 2014 wasn't without its bumps - the tickets sale website meltdown and a swift U-turn over controversial plans to blow up the famous Red Road flats as part of the opening ceremony - not to mention the outbreak of norovirus among security staff.

But putting those teething problems aside, the Games have been a huge success and away from the sporting achievements the real star of the show has been the city.

"Not only has Glasgow and her citizens completely embraced the Games, but we have demonstrated our credentials as a world-class city and have truly shown that People Make Glasgow" says council leader Gordon Matheson.

And it would certainly seem that way.

"People have been very good to us, very kind and very friendly," says a member of the Papa New Guinea medical team who, along with a colleague, has joined the snaking queue outside the official merchandise shop.

"We are buying souvenirs to take home. We like the neck ties."

Clydesider Alastair MacDonald, dancing security guard, Duke of Wellington with gold traffic cone and members of Papa New Guinea medical team Volunteers, security staff, athletes and even the Duke of Wellington have been getting in on the Games fun

Already kitted out in their merchandise are Amy, 9, and Aidan Gall, 5, from Cumbernauld, in town with grandmother June and enjoying what has become a popular Glasgow pastime in recent days - spot the athlete.


It's a bit like walking around in a dream. Walking into work at Pacific Quay, Wet, Wet, Wet are doing a sound-check outside and there's Sir Chris Hoy walking out the front door.

For me, the highlights have been chatting to Eilidh Child as she savoured the atmosphere at Hampden after winning a silver medal, and teasing her about her lap of honour as the crowd chanted Hibs favourite "500 miles".

The disbelief on Ross Murdoch's face when he realised he'd stolen gold from his hero, Michael Jamieson was another day I'll never forget.

But my favourite moment of the Games was watching 13 year old Erraid Davies climb out of the pool and beam that infectious smile to the world after winning bronze in the Para 100m breaststroke.

The crowds have also been an enormous hit. In full voice, heart and with a welcoming "weegie wave". Cheering on the stars, the home nations and in particular, the underdogs.

About 40,000 people at Ibrox shouting for "Uganda" is something I'll never see again.

"I'm going to tell my friends that I saw two athletes from Team Australia at the cinema," says Amy.

At Glasgow Cross three mums with buggies and toddlers are engaging in another Games event - photographs with mascot Clyde.

"We don't have tickets for anything," says one of them, Jennifer Aitken. "But we are from Fife so being so close we felt had to come, we couldn't miss out."

They are headed to Glasgow Green - one of the city's heaving live sites. There you could race Usain Bolt (be it a digital version), watch the sporting action on big screens and sample the food, drink and entertainment on offer.

In Merchant City there's been live performances, street food, vintage stalls and queues here too - to meet some of the medal winning athletes - and maybe invest in a bright orange onesie - at the pop-up Irn Bru store.

There's also been lots going on at the BBC's own pop-up festival, BBC at the Quay, and live music and dancing at the Kelvingrove Bandstand.

"I think Glasgow has done very, very well, " says Anne Carter, who along with husband Bob, has been working as a technical official at the athletics at Hampden.

Lewis Russell from Leven meets Clyde and Amy an Aidan Gall sport their merchandise Photos with mascot Clyde and getting decked out in Games merchandise became must dos for residents and visitors alike
Merchant City Festival There have been street performers, pop-up restaurants and live music
Glasgow Green Crowds flocked to live sites at Glasgow Green, Merchant City, BBC at the Quay and the Kelvingrove Bandstand

And at the venues the friendliness of these Games has also really shone through.

Time and time again the Glasgow crowds have got behind the underdog. Perhaps most memorably at the rugby sevens at Ibrox when a chant of U-GAN-DA rang out as they came back from behind to defeat Sri Lanka.

"It was very mind blowing. We do not know where it came from but we really enjoyed it," says the Uganda team's manager Michael Wadera.

"Respect to all the people in Glasgow. The organisation, the hospitality, even the weather too - it has been great."

And it's true the weather did seem to take a shine to the city for the first few days, but when the heavens opened, as we all knew they inevitably would, Glasgow again had it's own unique way of handling it.

"Taps Oan" read the message on the big screens at Hampden in reference to the locals' penchant for a bare-chest at the first glimpse of the sunshine.

Glasgow Patter and Taps Oan signs A pub near Glasgow Green was offering examples of "Glasgow patter" and that patter was in full swing at Hampden

And that Glasweigan humour was also on display in the city centre where the famous cone on the Duke of Wellington statue's head was turned gold to mark Scotland's sporting success.

But perhaps one of the stand-out tales of friendliness at the Games came at a Billy Bilsland's bike shop near Glasgow Green.

Members of the Malawian cycle team brought their bikes in to be repaired but owner Neil Bilsland decided they were not really up to the job so lent them new ones for their race.

"They were two of the loveliest guys. Big smiles on their faces. We wanted to ensure that they had a great time racing in Glasgow," he says.

Malawi cyclists with Bilsland Cycles owner Neil Bilsland The Billy Bilsland bike shop helped out the Malawian cycle team

Near the bike shop on the edge of Glasgow Green one of the pubs has a blackboard outside offering some tips on "Glasgow patter".

"We're up to high doh with these Games," it says. Meaning we're fed up or stressed out.

But it's surely tongue in cheek as the Glasgow seen by the world over the past couple of weeks is far from stressed out. It's colourful, bustling and vibrant.

As I headed to the Green the other day, not as a journalist, but as an enthusiastic punter off to see the time trial and have a go on the big wheel, I overheard a conversation which pretty much summed up the Games.

A man in a suit strode purposefully across the road towards a group of English tourists. "Did you see the cycling? " he asked eagerly.

"I'm just on my lunch break - I saw a couple of them whizz past. It's fantastic isn't it. I need to get back to the office but you guys have a great day."

And as cliched as it may sound there's been countless conversations like that across the city over the past 11 days.

Ordinary people of Glasgow taking the time to say "Hiya. How you doing? Enjoy yourselves."

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