A Written Warning to the Scottish Football Association

22 Nov

Scotland v USA 1Last week, Hampden Park, spiritual home of Scottish football and one of the the most venerable sporting venues in the world, was honored by the presence of a literary giant, when I made an appearance to watch Scotland take on the USA in a friendly international match. Anxious to avoid publicity, I arrived incognito without my Literary Giant badge, and watched proceedings from amongst the common people, including those very commonest of people, my brother and my nephew.

A friendly match against the USA doesn’t rank as a particularly big occasion at Hampden, but it seemed that the organizers were taken by surprise that anyone turned up at all. Or at least that anyone would want to buy a ticket. We arrived with half an hour to spare, having eventually found somewhere to park. I don’t blame anyone for the lack of parking at Hampden. Parking would not have been a major consideration when the stadium was built in 1903. What I do blame the organizers for – and hence this stern written warning – is that ticket sales were conducted from two portacabins with huge lines of fans positioned in front of them, condemned to miss the start of the match. This is like Walmart opening two cash registers for the Thanksgiving sales.

Given the quality of the match of which I was eventually permitted to see all but the opening minutes, there is a slight chance that the SFA had my best interests at heart in trying to dissuade me from entering the ground. But that would be a very generous interpretation. What’s more, the national anthems might have been the most entertaining part of the whole evening, and they made me miss that.

Once inside, I found myself reflecting on the last international match I attended there, which was against Switzerland. Or it might have been East Germany. The fact that it could have been East Germany is an indication of how long ago it was. The stadium was unrecognizable, of course. Gone were the old terraces, where I used to stand with up to 81,000 other fans on what seemed like worn down railway sleepers, and gone from the new all-seater stadium was much of the atmosphere that made the old place, with the famous Hampden roar, so special. On the other hand, it was a lot more comfortable.

As for the match itself, not much to report. In a dull 0-0 draw, Scotland may have been marginally the better team, but still did their best to gift the game to the visitors in the last few minutes, by deciding that there was no need to do any more of that boring defending stuff. Jozy Altidore, in particular, came very close, taking a brief break from fouling to fizz a shot inches wide of the post.

So a written warning to the SFA for making me miss those national anthems.



2 Responses to “A Written Warning to the Scottish Football Association”

  1. Anonymous November 22, 2013 at 11:45 am #

    so for dullness did it beat that dundee dunfermline match i dragged you to a few years back? those starlings at have time were quite special though

    • Augustus Gump November 22, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

      Nothing could ever beat that match for sheer awfulness.

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