The Original Hampden Riot

With all the news of rioting around the world at the moment, it’s a good time to retell the story of the original Hampden Riot in 1909.

When thinking of the rivalry between Celtic and Rangers, ‘the Hampden riot’ of 1980 is rarely far from one’s thoughts. However, this fixture has a history of mayhem at the national stadium, which stretches back much further. Many historians deem the original Hampden riot, on 17 April 1909, to be a major development in the rivalry. On this occasion, the Glasgow clubs were playing out a Scottish Cup Final replay. The match finished 1-1 and everybody had assumed that there would be extra time, including the players, who stayed on the pitch. However, this assumption did not take in to account the fact that SFA rules did not permit extra time until a second replay had been played.

Rumours of conspiracy quickly spread around the stadium, sending fans on both sides into splenetic rage with the conviction that the game had been deliberately drawn to ensure a third pay day. Many supporters spilled onto the pitch to remonstrate, charging in the direction of the changing rooms, where the players had sharply headed. So palpable was the anger among the pitch invaders that dozens of police officers had to use truncheons to stop them from advancing beyond the field.

Suddenly, bedlam erupted! Wooden terracing was set alight, goal posts were hauled down and punches flew at intervening police officers. The rioters set pay boxes ablaze and slashed the fire brigade’s hoses when they arrived at the ground. Turf was also uprooted, and ambulance staff were even assaulted when trying to treat injured police officers.

Reinforcements had to be called from the local constabulary, yet the relief they brought in managing to move the mobs away from the stadium was only temporary, as rioting continued for a further two hours on the streets of Glasgow’s south side.

Disorder on such a large scale was never going to avoid punishment. Indeed, the SFA called an urgent meeting on the Monday morning to decide upon appropriate action. The meeting revealed that the rioters had used knives and bottles as their weapons of choice, which had injured no fewer than 54 police officers. The committee also calculated total damage costs at £800. The SFA decided to donate £500 to Queen’s Park FC to repair their Hampden Park Stadium, whilst Celtic and Rangers were both fined £150 each to split the remaining cost of repairs. Considering that the match tickets raised £4000, this was a pittance for each club to pay. Following payment of the fines, representatives from both clubs made it clear to the SFA that they were against holding another replay. Therefore, the 1909 Scottish Cup was made void.

*This story is included in Take Me To Your Paradise: A history of Celtic-related incidents & events


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About Author

Hailing from an Irish background, I grew up in Bournemouth with the good fortune to begin watching Celtic as a young child during the Martin O'Neill era. Still living on the south coast, I have a season ticket at Paradise and also travel to European away matches when possible. At the age of 19, I published my first Celtic book (Our Stories & Our Songs: The Celtic Support). Then, last year, I published my second book (Take Me To Your Paradise: A History Of Celtic-Related Incidents & Events), which is sold in Waterstones and official Celtic FC stores.

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