Football Commentator & Columnist
Hampden Park: Martin Tyler shares his memories of commentating at the home of Scottish football
Memories of Scotland v England, Zinedine Zidane and being threatened with arrest
Last Updated: 18/05/20 7:40am
At a time when football grounds have closed their doors, we've asked Martin Tyler to share some of his favourite facts and memories of the homes of clubs around the world.
This week, Sky Sports' Voice of Football is looking at some grounds across Europe. Today, he takes us on a trip to Hampden Park in Scotland...
Keep an eye on The Football Show on Sky Sports News and @SkySportsPL for some special Tyler's Teasers from Martin.
How I travel there
The Glasgow shuttle from Heathrow is ideal.
What it's like to commentate there
The ground is not as huge as it used to be. Back then the television position was high and linked to the old press box. Now it is lower, a little far back to be perfect, but very workable.
It is the only ground where I have been threatened with arrest. It is common practice for commentators to wait at the mouth of the tunnel pre-game for confirmation of the team line-ups and one day at Hampden I was positioned in that way. Then the heavens opened and I crossed a line, literally and metaphorically, by seeking shelter a yard or two beyond my entitlement.
A senior steward, who I am sure was only doing his duty, told me in no uncertain terms that I should not be where I had moved to, even if it was only for respite from the rain. When I had the temerity to question his ruling, the threat of calling the police followed. I took my subsequent soaking stoically and, in the circumstances, sensibly.
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Did you know?
For a period either side of the Second World War, Hampden Park had the largest capacity of any football stadium in the world, just short of 150,000.
Real Madrid have won two of their 13 European Cup / Champions League crowns there, both in memorable fashion. In 1960 their great strikers Ferenc Puskas (4) and Alfredo Di Stefano (3) shared the scoring in an extraordinary 7-3 win over Eintracht Frankfurt.
In 2002, Zinadine Zidane struck the left-footed volley that beat Bayer Leverkusen, one of the greatest goals in the final of Europe's elite competition.
My memories of the ground
My Hampden history goes back to the 1980s, but my most notable memory is my most recent visit for Scotland 2-2 England in June 2017 in a World Cup qualifier.
Both managers, Gordon Strachan and Gareth Southgate, were very generous with their time in the build-up and as a commentator that kind of access is priceless. Scotland were based in a beautiful hotel outside Glasgow and with the game staged on June 10, the weather was much better than on the day I have described above!
The majority of the match was engrossing and seemed to be going with international rankings - Scotland then 61st, England 13th - when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, just on as a substitute for Marcus Rashford, found a shot that beat Craig Gordon. This edition of the game's oldest international fixture then wrote its own place in history with a truly sensational last six minutes.
My notes from the day remind me that Celtic's prolific striker Leigh Griffiths had never scored for Scotland, and 87 minutes into this his 13th cap, that was still the case. That changed spectacularly when he curled a free-kick from the edge of the penalty area past England's defensive wall and beyond the reach of Joe Hart, to the goalkeeper's left. Cue bedlam in Hampden!
When Scotland won another set-piece in an identical position the Scottish fans produced a modern-day version of the old "Hampden Roar" made famous when the stadium had a much larger capacity. Even from the commentary position it was clear that because England feared an instant repeat the other side of the goal, to Hart's right, was now a very presentable target.
Alongside me, Gary Neville recognised what would happen well before Griffiths picked out that opposite corner with aplomb. Quite a double to break his duck for Scotland.
Scotland had not beaten England at Hampden for 32 years. Gordon Strachan had played that day. In qualification terms his team needed all three points but the Griffiths fairytale did not have the perfect ending.
Harry Kane pooped the Hampden Park party with a 93rd-minute equaliser after Scotland had squandered possession with victory only moments away.
What I like about this ground
I grew up with the then annual Scotland-England rivalry and Hampden Park was right at the centre of it.