The Olympic Football Tournament’s northernmost stop takes the action into the heart of Scotland, where Glasgow is sure to provide the warmest of welcomes. Famed for the friendliness of its people and a fierce passion for football, Scotland’s largest city – the third-most populous in the UK – is sure to add its own unique flavour to the 2012 mix.
Glasgow first came to prominence in the 18th century as a major transatlantic trading base and soon, as shipbuilding and heavy engineering flourished around the River Clyde, it became known as the ‘Second City of the British Empire’. Tough times followed as many of these traditional industries declined, but recent decades have witnessed the city renewed and reborn. These days, Glasgow is renowned as one of Britain’s premier destinations for shopping and socialising, and offers all this from within a half-hour drive of the awe-inspiring beauty of Loch Lomond, the Trossachs and beyond.
Edinburgh may be Scotland’s capital city, but there is no disputing Glasgow’s status as the country’s football heartland. The ‘Old Firm’ derby between Celtic and Rangers is world-renowned and, between them, these famous old clubs have won the Scottish championship on a staggering 95 occasions.
Crowds of 60,000 and 50,000 respectively continue to pack out Celtic Park and Ibrox Stadium, while Hampden Park has held the European attendance record ever since 149,415 squeezed in to watch Scotland face England in 1937. The national stadium is also remembered for hosting arguably the greatest-ever European Cup final: Real Madrid’s thrilling 7-3 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in 1960, which was watched by 127,621. The fact that Hampden, Celtic Park and Ibrox all sit within a four-mile radius provides a vivid physical demonstration of Glasgow’s love affair with the beautiful game, and while the former no longer accommodates colossal, six-figure crowds, it’s sure to provide the perfect venue for some thrilling Olympic action.