Sir Alex Ferguson has backed calls for Hampden to remain as the national stadium and issued a warning that if the Scottish FA call time as tenants then Scotland’s footballing history would be dismantled brick by brick.
The former Aberdeen and Manchester United manager started his playing career at Queens Park in 1957 retaining an affection for the part time club and the national stadium itself.
But with the threat of the Scottish FA turning to Murrayfield – the home of Scottish Rugby – in 2020, Ferguson is less than happy with that prospect.
Speaking to the Daily Record, Ferguson said: “This is about more than money. We’re talking about leaving your history behind you.
“It’s as simple as this, if the SFA move games to Edinburgh they would have to pull Hampden down as there’s no chance Queen’s Park could keep it going.
“Every brick you take away is a goal, a memory or a shot that hit the post or bar. Hampden is the centre of football.
“As a young player you always hoped to play at Hampden, always wanted to turn out for your country there. I didn’t manage that but many people grew up to fulfil that dream.
“The history of Hampden is riddled with fantastic games and that’s the point. You’re throwing away all that fantastic history, all those memories.
“These are memories people live with, ‘Remember that time we went to Hampden?’ That finishes. The minute you leave Hampden, that stops.
“In future, kids will never have a memory of Hampden and that’s the type of history you are throwing away and I don’t think that should happen at all.
“Queen’s Park will definitely die if Scottish football loses Hampden and their contribution to football has been tremendous, not just because they’ve been part of the game for over 150 years.
“They’ve also kept a club in the principle of what they believe in, of amateurs playing football for the love of it. That’s a fantastic history for any club, to go right through from 1867 playing against Rangers and Celtic and different teams at different times, but always being there – and they’re still there.
“I played for the Scottish League against England at the ground and it’s still a great memory. People filled Hampden and developed a loyalty to it because of the big games played there, including six European finals and major Scottish matches.
“In 1960, Real Madrid and Eintracht Frankfurt only brought a few thousand fans to the European Cup Final but 135,000 Scots turned up to watch.
“I played in a Scottish Cup Final for Rangers in front of 134,000. I remember the excitement of John Greig’s last minute goal for Scotland to beat Italy in 1965.
“In 1947 Hampden hosted Great Britain versus the rest of Europe in front of 137,000. Why would they contemplate Great Britain playing the Rest of Europe if it wasn’t in an arena that justified the occasion?
“We played St Etienne last year and I went into their museum to see the old Hampden goalposts they bought which are such a part of their history after the 1976 European Cup Final against Bayern Munich.
“I was at the game and St Etienne were fantastic. Their forward Jacques Santini hit the bar with a header and if the post frames had been elliptical, or oval, it would have been a goal. That’s their history, why they never won the European Cup. Square goalposts.
“There were some fantastic games. It’s one thing talking about something (Murrayfield) as an attraction to go to but it’s quite another to close the door on Hampden. That’s the hardest part.
“The minute you make that decision, you’re throwing away all that history and it can never come back.
“As soon as you turn the key in the door and walk away that will be the most horrible feeling.
“It’s like that movie, ‘You’ve Got Mail’. There’s a wee book shop in New York that’s engulfed by a superstore and they can’t live with them. They turn the key in the door the last day and it kills them. That’s what it would be like. If you close the door on Hampden for the last time, you can’t go back.”
Ferguson points to the West of Scotland as the heartbeat of the national game as sentimentality and history are the main reasons for his decision to back staying at Hampden.
He added: “Do we honestly think we can create the same type of history? We’re talking about the hotbed of football in the central belt of Scotland. Hampden Park is where all the history has been formed. We’re talking about leaving our national stadium here.
“If you look at the central belt of Scotland, the hotbed of football is the Glasgow area. You had six Glasgow teams at one time and in a 15 mile radius there were clubs such as Clydebank, Dumbarton, Airdrie, Hamilton and Motherwell.
“The history of Hampden is riddled with fantastic games and that’s the point. You’re throwing away all those memories, even for Edinburgh folk.
“It’s only an hour to travel to Glasgow to see their country playing for their clubs. A couple of years ago, when Hibs won the League Cup Final and that celebration, Sunshine on Leith? I don’t think there’s a better football celebration ever in the game.
“These are memories people live with. The minute you leave Hampden, that stops. We need history to tell us where we’re going, to remind us of our roots and where we can influence our future.”
Do you agree with Ferguson – should Scotland and the Cup games remain at Hampden or should the Scottish FA up sticks and head along the M8 to Murrayfield?