Our Unique Heritage

Hampden Bowling Club sits on the site of the First Hampden Park, home to Queens Park FC and Scotland’s National Team from 1873 to 1884. This is the birthplace of world football. Here is our video:

They say that the original is always the best. The First Hampden was built in 1873 by the ingenious commercial drive of a group of men from Queens Park Football Club. Up until that point, football was played in open spaces like the Queens Park Recreation Ground or on the cricket grounds of the West of Scotland or Kennington Oval.

The First Hampden was the World’s first enclosed, purposefully built, international football ground and had innovations including, turnstiles used for the first time, the season book allowing their members access to their ‘home’ games and proper facilities, including the fabled stadium bath. They realised the general public would come and watch their beautiful game and most importantly pay for the privilege.

In 1884, Queens Park and Scotland, were forced to move from their first home to the Second Hampden at Cathkin, due to the building of the Cathcart Railway. They would move once again to their Third and present Hampden in 1903, when they realised that they had outgrown their current abode. They used thirty years of stadium experience to build the world’s biggest football ground.

The most important attribute of this story is that you can still stand on the grass and sit in the changing room where Queens Park and Scotland developed the modern passing game of football. This was Scotland’s Tartan Fortress, where they played 6 times and were undefeated. Scotland beat England 7-2, 5-4 and 5-1 over a four year period and hosted Wales three times: with wins of 9-0, 5-1 and 5-0. You can stand on the grass where the Scottish Cup was first presented to Queens Park in 1874, who would go onto win it, nine times more.

Furthermore, First Hampden is the cornerstone to Scotland’s claim to be at the forefront of world footballing history. Scotland dominated the early game with their thinking, not only on the pitch, but also influenced many of the rules that today govern it, as well as creating the stadium template to watch it. They were aptly called the ‘Scotch Professors’ and are the founders of the beautiful passing game that is currently watched or played by 3.5 billion people around the world.

Unfortunately, the site of the First Hampden was encased in myth, legend and guesswork for over a 100 years until the Secretary of Hampden Bowling Club finally proved it beyond doubt in 2017. Our nation had lost this Southside Gem and we are now on a mission to put it back on the map for the world to see. This hallowed ground only exists today, because Hampden Bowling Club has preserved the original pavilion and grass and a group of local residents have preserved Kingsley Rose Gardens.

Today, you can put on your bowling shoes, play on the First Hampden turf and listen to the trains speed past. If bowls is not for you, then head over to the Hampden Collection, and learn more about our story or step into Kingsley Rose Gardens and listen to the echoes from history.

Finally football, and stadiums to watch it in, are Scottish inventions. They are as big as whisky, porridge, telephone, television and penicillin. These are national treasures, given to the world for the greater good, and we have the luck not only to have one Hampden Park but three of them. The First Hampden, in our eyes, is the most important and should a symbol of pride for Glasgow Southside, as the rightful birthplace of world football.

Any other country would give their right arm for our football history and heritage. Our mission is to explain how important Hampden is to the local community, the nation as a whole and to the world at large. We have one simple phrase:

“Scotland invented football and Hampden is its home”.

We hope you will visit this monument to football and would appreciate your help in sharing this story.

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