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Gordon Smith: Hampden and its repeated repair scheme

Hampden is to get a new surface laid just like last year (SNS Group)
Hampden is to get a new surface laid just like last year (SNS Group)

It is a well-worn quote (from John F Kennedy’s inaugural Presidential address) but one that fits the bill when considering how to solve the perennial problem of the Hampden pitch.

I said last week in comments running alongside this paper’s exclusive revelations about the shoddy state of the surface at the national stadium that it couldn’t be right to play the showpiece League Cup Final in such conditions.

Since then, of course, Hampden Park Limited have had a rethink and announced a new surface will be laid ahead of the meeting of Hibernian and Ross County.

It is the fourth time such a measure has been taken in seven years and the news clearly highlighted an ongoing issue.

There are a few factors at play here: Scotland’s climate, the time of year and the amount of use Hampden gets.

The first is out of our hands and the second has already seen the men in charge of the national game make a change, with the League Cup Final to be switched back to the first half of the season.

It is the third where I see most scope to take steps to help ourselves. Specifically for Queen’s Park to help the Scottish game.

Given the huge amount of revenue they raise for Hampden Park Limited, who as tenants in turn pass on much-needed cash to the Spiders, I don’t think we should look to move the big concerts – Coldplay, Rihanna, Beyoncé and Bruce Springsteen are scheduled for the summer – or shut it down as a future venue.

Likewise the Scotland matches, be they competitive or friendlies, should remain unaffected.

Where better to play the majority of these games, than the country’s National Stadium? The ground that the majority of players and fans feel a genuine affection for.

What I would like to see is Queens switch their games to Lesser Hampden when the weather gets bad.

It would be convenient, the two grounds are almost in spitting distance and their own offices are on site, and the artificial surface would give them the best chance of getting their games on.

There is plenty room, too, with seating to accommodate any League Two fixture.

I have been told this doesn’t happen for two reasons: switching surfaces in mid-season could be seen to disadvantage individual opposition teams and the safety certificates were not in place.

Quite frankly, I don’t find either acceptable.

Provided the pitches meet the required standards, footballers should be ready to play on any surface they are asked to over the course of the season. As for safety certificates, if they are not in place now they should be!

I’m not for a second suggesting Queen’s Park should get unceremoniously thrown out of their historic home.

Rather a flexible solution be found to help cope with a force of nature that is anything but – the Scottish weather.

A few words for Davie Cooper

The observation that my old pal Davie Cooper would have turned 60 in this past week does nothing to ease the sorrow at his early passing.

We signed for Rangers in the same month and were close enough that we actually had a catch-up lunch scheduled in Glasgow for the day after he died.

He was quite simply the most technically-gifted footballer I ever played with. A genius who in any other European country would have been seen to even greater effect as a playmaker.

It was the role Motherwell used him in at the end of his career, and where Davie was at his dazzling best.


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