Friday 26 June 2009

Queens Park-Lesser Hampden

I visited Lesser Hampden for the Queens Park Supporters' Team tournament, which has been running for an amazing 23 years! Lesser Hampden, in it's heyday, could accomdate 12,000 spectators, but has now been redeveloped with a modern all-weather surface. It is still steeped in character though. It was marvellous to spend the day here, having travelled up to support my Belgian friends from the Paris Saint Germain Belgium Supporters' Club.

This was the entrance gate through which I entered the ground.

Outside, in the car park, was this sign. not the best of shots, but not bad, as the sun was directly in my eyes, so I was snapping it 'blind'!

This club minibus was parked up.

As was this one, in the club sponsors livery.

Here is the PSG team. Back row far left is Larry Marsh, a Dulwich Hamlet fan guesting, & next to him is our good friend Nicolas Lucas, who runs PSG Belgique, & pops over to watch the Hamlet a couple of times a season.

Here he thanks Larry for travelling up from London & playing.

This is the spot where I entered the ground. To the right are the club offices, & bar, in this building. We shall see more of it later.

The Scottish Football Partnership helped to fund the refurbishment of the ground.

With the pitch being laid by this organisation.

Here we look across the pitch, divided into four small sided ones for the day, & you can see what is left of the old one, pre-redevelopment on the far side.

We're going to stroll round clockwise. To the left you can just see the main Hampden Park Stadium outer walls. This steep grass slope extends all the way down this side.

Firm but friendly, was how I saw this sign, down by the pitch.

Here we progress down the touchline, along the open sloped side.

Dugouts around the halfway line.

Here is the other one.

The slope petered out in the corner, the gates presumably for ambulance access, as well as any pitch maintenance vechicles.

Behind the goal is more grass banking, but not as steeped.

From the top of this end we see just how close the main Hampden Park is.

Now we look the other way to the main, old, spectator area, & the pavilion.

Another similar shot, but a little closer.

From the same corner we look over, again, at Hampden Park.

Now we're on the banking along this side.

If you thought this old building looked like a farmhouse you'd be right! Lesser Hampden dates from 1923, when they purchased the adjacent farmland for their teams below the First Team to play on. The farm buildings were kept, to keep costs down, and converted into a pavilion. Although their exact age isn't known, they certainly date back to the nineteenth centurt, & a number of football historians reckon they are the oldest football buildings still in use in the world!

It's a wonderful structure!

Moving along, towards the front of the pavilion, we look across the pitch.

In front there is open wooden benching. This section is towards the back.

It stretches right down to the pitch.

Here we look up from the bottom, to the old farm buildings. I am totally enchanted by them!

Another angle, up the steps between the benches.

Here are the steps leading up to the pavilion, and the changing rooms.

Moving back, onto the pitch itself, we look up at the pavilion.

In front of the changing room door are some benches that are under cover, with a small roof over them.

With more open benches to the left of this area.

Here we are down at the front, at the beginning of the tournament, as everyone impeccably observed a one minute silence in memory of those who the various competitions were named after. People not known to many, but still respected. An extremely moving moment.

A shot from the other side of the pitch, actually showing a bit of football!

Here we are at the top of the pavilion steps. Before continuing around the remainder of the ground we're going to have a little nose inside.

One last glance of Hampden Park opposite before we do.

The changing rooms were immaculate. Tiled in Queens Park colours, & crests.

I was very impressed.

The showers were certainly better than the ones in the hostel I was staying in!

Clearly Queens Park take a lot of pride in their club-rightly so!

We head up some steps, and their is a balcony area, with some locked rooms, but a number of old pictures are displayed.

A long time ago, but proud of their heritage.

Through the window we look down on the pitch, with the blinds in club colours too.

Hanging up above the stairs, on the way down, is this poster of a great European night, after the big Hampden Park was refurbished.

Now we're back outside, and past the benches is more grass banking, as we head towards the building behind the goal.

A similar snap, further along, from a different angle.

Behind the goal is the food tent, with a piece of training equipment left out, not in the queue! ;-)

Here are three players from Appin FC, who won the main competition, who I asked to photograph due to their unusual kit, well unusual to an Englishman anyway!

That's the tour of the ground over, we're now heading into the bar area, behind the goal, which was full of club photos. Here is an arial one of the main stadium.

A recent, autographed shirt.

A general shot of the bar....this is only halfway through the competition!

Past the bar is this corridor, with lots of old photos on the walls. I don't know from which periods they are from, but I took pictures of a number of them...

There was also an iconic cover of one of their old fanzines..and no, he didn't play for them!

More old team photos...

And old notices.

This is the PSG team, with some Queens Park people, at the end of the competition. They had palyed each other in a friendly, at at the end of the match the Queens Park team took their shirts off & simply presented them to the Belgians as a gift, with no fuss whatsover! An amazing act of generousity that was really appreciated & won't be forgotten for a long time. As a personal 'bonus' I was given one too, even though I was only a supporter from England! Much appreciated. Thank you Queens Park!

The leg of a Queens Park fan! They have a fans' link up with German side SG Wattenscheid!

The competition is over, and Nicolas receives a momento from the tournament organiser Iain Campbell, in appreciation of them being the first ever overseas visitors.

The whole squad come up to have their picture taken with the trophy!

It was a wonderful weekend, I cannot speak too highly of the hospitality shown by the Queens Park people. I really do hope that I'm back in the not too distant future in my Dulwich Hamlet hat!


Anonymous said...

Nice photos, and great comments. And glad to hear you enjoyed yourself with the Spiders. Haste ye back.

Just to say: the building at Lesser Hampden is the oldest football-related building in existence; and Hampden Park, itself, is the oldest international ground in the world.

a proud fan of the club that brought the beautiful game to the world...

Anonymous said...

I live quite near Hampden and didn't appreciate quite how well set up Lesser Hampden actually was. As an occasional spectator at QPFC games I would love to see it developed a bit more and used for first team games - the atmosphere would be so much better and I think more people would attend more regularly - including myself....

gee said...

you dont go hampden but youd go lesser

Rabbler said...

Anons 1 & 2: Thank you for your comments. I must say that Hmpden Park IS Queen's Park, & don't think the Spiders should use Lesser for First Team matches, even if it met grading requirements, which it doesn't.

Anonymous said...

Lesser Hampden doesn't meet grading requirements, but Queens Park could easily have turned it into a great wee ground of unique character for their home games. They're not short of a bob or two. Playing in big Hapmden to crowds of usually less than 1,000 is ridiculous.

WDH59510 said...

In the 70s, QP used Lesser Hampden for first-team games when the pitch next door at Hampden needed a rest. They simply used the changing rooms at Hampden so the players walked from one ground to the other. At the time Lesser Hampden was a grass surface. Great pictures !