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Amateurs should not miss out on Hampden

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Jack Ross | 09:46 UK time, Monday, 21 March 2011

Every sport has its own field of dreams, the venue where those who love their game of choice aspire to appear at and compete on.

For football in Scotland it is Hampden Park that is the arena where legends are made and cup finals won. But have recent events conspired to show that even our traditional home of Scottish football is not immune to the commercial preferences our game has developed at the expense of the love and romance of our national sport?

I am making reference to the decision to prevent the Scottish Amateur Cup final being held at Hampden, the stadium which has hosted this level of the game's showpiece match for around 100 years.

Hampden Park was the setting for Sunday's Old Firm cup final.

Hampden Park was the setting for Sunday's Old Firm cup final. Photo:SNS

There are as always perfectly viable reasons for such a decision to be reached by those who own our national stadium and indeed the possibility of the tradition being continued is a possibility but with the caveat of a price to be paid.

But are these excuses acceptable in the face of the great joy and excitement those who play football at amateur level get from earning the right to grace the hallowed turf, or in the anticipation these players will have as they drive into the bowels of the stadium on cup final day and make the long walk from dressing room to the pitch?

I do not believe they are. As a youngster I always dreamt of playing at Hampden and was fortunate to do so in both a semi-final and final.

There should be no attempt to dilute the experience of Hampden Park and, while my memories were ultimately of losing matches there, the incredible pride in walking in the footsteps of Scottish football giants lives long in the memory of those who achieve it.

Therefore do not let this decision be another step towards a further detachment between those who love our game and those who administer it.

At a time when the average fan feels an ever growing distance between them and club, a compromise would surely show that there is still room in Scotland for football dreams to come true and for players playing solely for the love of the game to have their historic day at Hampden.

A further argument for the axing of this fixture could be the possible damage to the playing surface but given the condition of the pitch during the Co-operative Insurance Cup final it would seem that it is already suffering badly.

Whether this is as a result of a severe winter or the regular staging of pop concerts is debatable but what is clear is that the pitch is not befitting of the centre piece of our national game at present.

The players of the Old Firm deserve credit therefore for producing an entertaining match in difficult underfoot conditions and none more so than Steven Whittaker of Rangers.

I blogged around a year ago on the need for versatility in today's game and there surely cannot be a better example of a player capable in so many different roles than Steven.

His performance as a make-shift centre-half only highlighted his ability to produce performances in almost any role, adding to impressive displays as a full-back on both sides and as a central midfielder.

We are very quick in Scotland to laud the talents of those from beyond our borders and on many occasions point to the Dutch model where players are educated in playing all over the park and coached to be proficient with both feet.

Does Steven Whittaker not fit all this criteria given his defensive capabilities, his ease in a midfield role, his threat going forward and his use of the ball from both sides?

Should we then not use his abilities as a great example to our young players aspiring to reach the top levels and be more vocal in promoting our own talent as the benchmark?

Our national team is on the cusp of an exciting period, let's jump on the positivity bandwagon and allow our best amateurs their day in the sun at Hampden and give more credit to those professional players our system can produce.


  • Comment number 1.

    In relation to the use of Hampden Park, i think there are circumstances when the national stadium shouldn't be used. Yes it would be an honour for most players to play on it, but sometimes practicality must take precedence. I've been to semi finals that include St.Mirren that have been played there and there ends up being more empty seats than occupied seats however the decision not to let the amateur footballers use the stadium is beyond me. What methods do we use to inspire our younger players to make a living in football? not many from where i'm standing. I'm sure these amateur footballers would give their right arm to get a game at Hampden never mind a final.
    In relation to the Steven Whittaker point, i'd say spot on. The Dutch Total Football model where players are trained to play different positions is a model that the SFA should adopt. Pushing players outwith their comfort zones to learn new positions and think differently about what they need to do when they are on/off the ball can only benefit the individual and scottich football as whole. Watching some SPL games can be tedious when you can see the pass a player should make but the cogs in the players mind don't quite turn that fast.
    Finally, i'm quite excited about the current Scotland team. A lot of EPL and Championship players look to be improving the squad. As long as we stay away from the 4-6-0 formation, i think we'll do just fine.

  • Comment number 2.

    An honor?

    Please, why should amateurs get this honor? Surely all they have achieved is being the best of a bunch too poor to make it as pros? This honor should be reserved for those who are the best in the game.

  • Comment number 3.

    I agree with #1 and that Hampden should be available to Amateurs.

    Its a great pitch though I have to say on Sunday it looked less than perfect. Never seen a Hampden cup final on a pitch in that poor a condition. Embarassing.

    Versatile players yes, I'm sure there are more given the oppporchancity.

  • Comment number 4.

    I played in the Scottish Amateur Cup final for St. Patrick's FPFC 5 years ago. What a proud day it was for all of us being able to play at the national stadium when you think of the legends who have played there before!!

    There were prob over a thousand fans at the game and I'll never forget the feeling when we scored our goals and hearing the crowd going wild and then the celebrations at the final whistle ....brilliant!

  • Comment number 5.

    Would just like to make a comment about the Amateur Cup Final being played in Hampden. In Ireland there was big controversy over the opening of Croke Park to both soccer and rugby. One idea to sweeten the deal was that new competitions were created for Intermediate and Junior GAA clubs to complement the already existing Senior Club Championship. The finals for these competitions would be played in Croke Park. The offshoot of this is that any adult player in Ireland begins the year with the opportunity of ending in Croke Park (in actul fact some English clubs have got to finals as well, with clubs from London and Liverpool reaching finals.

    I was lucky enough to be part of a team that reached a final and it is something that will stay with us for the rest of our lives. We come from a club that has been battered by Emigration to such an extent we are joined with another local club. The fact that we got to Croke Park was amazing for a small area was amazing but what made it quite simply remarkable was that our neighboring club reach a different final the same year. What this meant was that two small communities from the arse of old Ireland were playing in one of the finest stadiums in the world and for players and supporters it will never be forgotten.

    By moving these finals away from Hampden, the SFA are ruining something special for not only players but also their families, club members and supporters.

  • Comment number 6.

    Great posts.

    Perhaps the ideas here should be to try and keep who we have here already and look at getting more non-pro's to Hampden, and what is the national stadium.

  • Comment number 7.

    Thank you as always for your responses.

    Frustrated_Buddie, the point regarding semi finals is very valid. I have played semi finals at both Hampden and Fir Park and the atmosphere at the latter on these occassions was fantastic, especially for St Mirren's victory over Hearts. Ideally, Hampden would only be used for finals (although as a player and you get the chance to play in a semi final there you cannot help being excited about it!)

    The Goalie and John Brennan, really enjoyed your memories of cup finals at major stadiums. Probably as good an argument as any for the Amateur Cup Final to continue at Hampden.

    John, in the example you gave it is great to read of an organisation keen to promote gaelic football/hurling as it recognises its importance to the country's population. Scotland's most popular sport is of course football and we should be doing all we can to encourage both participation and enjoyment at all levels.

  • Comment number 8.

    Many thanks for your support, Jack, this issue is hugely important for all involved in the amateur game - good to see it highlighted here. We've put together a campaign to try to secure the future of the final, including a petition, and we'd be grateful for the support of all football fans -

    We're gaining momentum, with grassroots, political and media support, but every signature helps!

  • Comment number 9.

    I find it rather sad that the Scottish Amateur Cup Final has been prevented from being played at Hampden Park.
    It's ironic that the club which calls Hampden home is the only amateur club side in the Scottish League, so surely more reason to play the final there? Tradition and history should also be considered in this context as if we lose these then we lose what makes football in this country unique.

    Fans wishes should also be taken into consideration. No matter the team you support, big or small, seeing YOUR team walk out at Hampden for a final is a proud moment and one which most average fans hardly see in their lifetime.
    I have been lucky to see this twice as a Falkirk fan. Both times we lost but both days will stay with me as fantastic memories.

    This should be afforded to all fans, professional, part-time or amateur.

  • Comment number 10.

    stevenk101, I wish you well in your campaign.


  • Comment number 11.

    I live in Australia now but find it hard to understand that you would stop 1 game a year ,especially for the amatuers where the grass roots of our game comes from eg QUEENS PARK,also it being a CUP FINAL Remember Scotlands World Cup Song WE HAVE A DREAM, why not let that live on for at least 2 teams ONCE a Year.

  • Comment number 12.

    Good blog as always. It is important for the spread of the game that the best at amateur level also get the chance to play at the home of the Scottish game. To #2, quite an ironic statement given Hampden is the home of an amateur team.

  • Comment number 13.

    Amateurs should not miss out on Hampden?
    Yes they should, we should make sure they do.
    If there is an association for amateur football in the country then there should be a national stadium for amateur football in the country. You can't have your cake and eat it.

  • Comment number 14.

    Post 12: "spread" good gag, very apt way to describe amateurs!!

  • Comment number 15.

    Ha! Excellent. Maybe they can eat their cake after all...


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