Standing a bum deal at Hampden


I expect I know where I will be on Sunday, March 15. Football isn’t my forte, but I rather think my son will ask me to join him on a trip to Glasgow and the final of the Scottish League Cup between Celtic and his beloved Dundee United.

I’ve been at Hampden before to watch the Tangerines in action, and I’ve also seen Scotland play at the national stadium.

The protocol – if that is the right word for behaviour at matches at this level – I find a wee bit confusing.

We are all provided with seats. Not very comfy seats, but seats nevertheless. Now, to my mind, seats are for sitting on. Seat, bum, sit. Pretty simple and a fair assumption of what I should do.

But on those occasions I seemed to be the only person out of 52,000 cheering souls who accepted the simple logic that seats were for sitting on. Seat, bum, sit. I sat, but all around me they stood. They stood and they shouted and they sang, and they gesticulated (in a nice way, of course) at those who were not adorned in the same colours as they.

I didn’t know the songs, I didn’t know the gesticulating gestures, so as they sang and shouted and gesticulated, I sat. And I couldn’t see a thing except the bum in front of me that should have been on a seat, damn it. Somewhere down there. Away down there – because at Hampden the pitch is away down there – there were 22 players kicking a ball about and trying to score goals.

I had read – well I knew – that in stadiums such as this we were supposed to sit. This is on the grounds of safety and because that’s what seats are for. Seat, bum, sit.

But good money had been paid to watch this beautiful game, and so I joined the 51,999 others and I stood.

I feared that I would be blocking the view of the person seated behind me. But, of course, he wasn’t seated, was he.

On the odd occasion when there was a dull lull in the excitement of the match, people – fans – did sit. So I took my cue from them and I, too, sat. And I soon learned when to stand, in unison, with all the rest. You could sense the excitement mount; there was a collective intake of breath, and the stadium rose as one. And I rose with them. My previous trips to Hampden have been an education. I now know that seats aren’t for sitting on.

And ‘up for the game’ has taken on a new meaning.