LIBERATING FOOTBALL TRAVEL

Queen’s Park

Scotland’s oldest club turns pro to build new future

A fan’s guide – the club from early doors to today

Scotland’s oldest football club, the only one to play in England’s cup final, Queen’s Park are still based at Hampden Park, the national arena and once the biggest football stadium in the world. 

The smaller ground alongside, usually referred to as Little Hampden, renamed The City Stadium in 2023, has traditionally been the club’s home ground but its redevelopment will stretch all the way into 2024-25. In the meantime, Championship fixtures with Airdrie, Raith and Arbroath take place with a few hundred faithful huddled in a stadium due to co-host Euro 2028.

At least it means that the Spiders can stay put in the Mount Florida area of south Glasgow, rather than trek up to Partick or even Falkirk or Stenhousemuir.

Also on the plus side, two promotions in as many seasons pushed Queen’s Park from the fourth tier to the second, following the decision to turn professional in 2019, after a century and a half of amateur operations.

Lesser Hampden/Peterjon Cresswell

Back then, in football’s very beginnings, Queen’s Park were not only top of the Scottish game but the British one. Founded in 1867, this club of gentlemen participated in drawing up the rules in Scotland, provided one entire team for the first international ever played, the 0-0 draw with England in Partick in 1872, and helped form the Scottish Football Association a year later.

Winners of the Scottish Cup for its first three years – no team even scored a goal against them until 1875 – Queen’s Park had already been invited to take part in the inaugural FA Cup south of the border in 1871-72. Drawing with Wanderers in the semi-final, the club couldn’t afford to return to London for the replay, nor for the semi against Oxford University a year later. Eventually they made (and lost) two consecutive FA Cup finals, in 1884 and 1885.

More than anything, though, Queen’s Park, more than any other club, invented football. Whereas players in England would dribble until they lost the ball – usually backed up by beefy team-mates behind them – the game Queen’s Park and Scotland played was a passing one.

Prime exponents were full-back Andrew Watson, the son of a plantation owner from Scotland and Guyanese mother, probably Britain’s first black footballer, and centre-forward ‘Toffee Bob’ McColl. Both played south of the border, McColl for Newcastle, Watson for the greatest sides of the day, Swifts and Corinthians.

Lesser Hampden/Peterjon Cresswell

For all their pioneering achievements, and ten Scottish Cup wins until 1893, Queen’s Park avoided joining the Scottish League until 1899. By then its clubs, professional in many cases, had surpassed them in technique, tactics and training. Queen’s Park soon slipped down the ranks – and pretty much stayed there for well over a century.

Several big names in the Scottish game started their careers in the black-and-white hoops of Queen’s Park, including Sir Alex Ferguson, 1967 European Cup-winning goalkeeper Ronnie Simpson and 1928 Wembley Wizard Alan Morton – but all then opted for salaried status at bigger clubs.

A relaxation in 1998 of the club’s strict rules protecting its amateur status, allowing the hiring of former professionals, helped Queen’s Park to runs in the league and occasional cup shocks. The League Cup win over Aberdeen in 2006 was complemented by promotion to the third flight the same season.

Until the club turned fully professional in 2019, fans could savour a rare derby with Rangers in 2012-13, a 2-1 win over Dundee in the League Cup that same season – and a late goal to settle the semi-final of the League One play-off against Arbroath in 2015. A narrow defeat to Stenhousemuir condemned the Spiders to more fourth-tier purgatory – but not for much longer.

Queen's Park team bus/Peterjon Cresswell

At the same stage the following year, the Spiders saw off Cowdenbeath, then Clyde, to scale the newly created Scottish pyramid to League One. Though back down in 2018, under Ray McKinnon, and following superb performances from Willie Muir in goal, the Spiders conceded only 13 goals in the pandemic-reduced campaign of 2020-21 to top the table.

In a tragic footnote, after being overshadowed by the arrival of young English keeper Calum Ferrie, Muir sustained a shocking injury in a friendly game with Alloa in July 2022 – the very club he was looking to join. 

Queen’s Park, meanwhile, had gone from strength to strength, attracting a crowd of nearly 2,000 to their temporary home of Firhill for the Championship play-off final with Airdrie. As he had done in the 89th minute of the semi-final with Dunfermline, former Dundee United striker Simon Murray hit vital goals in each leg for Queen’s Park. It was his penalty in extra-time that lifted the Spiders up to the second tier for the first time in 40 years.

Now based at Stenhousemuir while work continued at Hampden, Queen’s Park made sure that their stay wouldn’t be a short one by luring manager Owen Coyle over from India. Successful at top-level Burnley 15 years before, the former Irish international had spent most of his player career in Scotland.

Lesser Hampden/Simone Pirastu

It was an expensive gamble, and one that nearly paid off as Queen’s Park almost achieved a third straight promotion. In a tighter than tight in finish to the Championship season, one point separated four teams below Dundee at the top, Coyle’s side having lost 5-3 in a six-pointer with the eventual divisional winners.

At the Premiership play-offs, still within touching distance of a level the Spiders last attained in the 1950s, Queen’s Park took Partick Thistle to the wire in a ding-dong thriller in front of nearly 4,000 at Firhill. Hitting two late goals to level the scores at 3-3, the Spiders succumbed to a 97th-minute winner by the hosts. 

With the tie delicately balanced at 3-4, at the second leg in Stenhousemuir, Queen’s Park collapsed, Thistle banging in two away goals by the half-hour. A 0-4 defeat was a sad end to an epic season, Simon Murray again among the top goalscorers.

With Coyle back in India and Murray gone to Dingwall, Queen’s Park struggled in 2023-24, as workmen continued to finish off the development of Lesser Hampden – now called The City Stadium – for the following campaign.

For details of the stadium and transport there, see Hampden Park. Note that while Queen’s Park are using the national stadium, home fans are allocated block P2, visiting supporters block P4.

GETTING IN & What to buy

Shirts, tickets, merchandise and gifts

Tickets can be bought online for an across-the-board £20, £13 for seniors/students, £8 for under-15s. The club office usually operates Tue-Fri 10am-4pm. Tickets are also available on the day. For all enquiries, contact 0141 632 1275, tickets@queensparkfc.co.uk.

The Queen’s Park Supporters’ Association run an outlet on match days, as well as an online shop. The current home shirt is not so spidery, thickish black hoops running across a white background. Away is red with white adidas shoulder piping. 

Note also the coffee mugs, with the ‘City’ branding in preparation for the move to the new stadium.

Where to Drink

Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors

The Queen’s Park Cafe (530 Victoria Road) is almost as old as the club itself, ‘Established 1898’ as its sign says. It’s very much a pub, in fact, it couldn’t be more pub-like, these days more into racing than football. You’ll find it close to Queen’s Park station, a 15min walk from Hampden or an easy hop back to Glasgow Queen Street/Central. 

For other bars convenient for Hampden, see Hampden Park.