Take a step through the turnstile and listen to the roar of the crowd. Before you lies a rich collection of artefacts and memorabilia which tells the secret story of football. It is a story of glory, tragedy and the game that Scotland gave to the world.

"You are standing in the oldest, continuously used national football stadium in the world, in the most important country in world football history," says Ged O'Brien, manager of the newly opened Scottish Football Museum at Hampden Park, Glasgow

He is well qualified to make such a bold assertion. He has, after all, been piecing this story together for the past 12 years. Scots may not have invented the game per se, but there is a wealth of evidence to suggest that the passing style we recognise in modern football originated on a public park little more than a free-kick's length away from where we stand.

This is a museum which beckons you in through a section of fence and a turnstile preserved from the Hampden of old. The crowd noises you will hear on entering are those of the stadium's world record breaking crowd of 149,415, recorded in 1937.

Here you can walk into the old Hampden dressing room - it has been lovingly rebuilt - in which so many great teams have prepared for so many great games, and afterwards spilt the champagne of victory or the tears of defeat. Baxter, Law, Bremner, Dalglish, di Stefano.they have all been here.

The museum opened in its original form in 1994, in a corner of the Museum of Transport. Since then a dedicated team of researchers have hunted down a truly amazing collection of artefacts, some of which were previously believed to be lost for good.

Amidst a mighty collection of cups and medals there is the oldest trophy in the world, the Scottish Cup. The first ever World Championship trophy, won by the long defunct Renton against West Bromwich in 1888 sits nearby.

You also will find what is believed to the first cup ever won by Celtic and the impressive Glasgow Charity Cup on display. Somehow the museum has even managed to procure a medal presented to the third placed team - the USA - in the first World Cup.

The collection of Queen's Park FC, believed to be the oldest club in the world, features prominently. Although the original version is too fragile to be put on show, there is a facsimile copy of the minutes from the club's first ever meeting in 1867 - an event O'Brien believes was a defining moment in football history.

There is a panoply of Scottish international shirts, from the faded splendour of the Rosebery colours (pink and yellow hoops) worn by RS McColl against England in 1900 to the lightweight fashion items worn by today's team.

The world's oldest surviving ticket for a football match, the Scotland v England game in 1872, is on display along with various letters and telegrams sent to and from Queen's Park, challenging other teams to play against them.

O'Brien explains that Scotland's football history is inextricable from its social history.

"In the 19th century Scotland was the most industrialised country in the world, and for the first time you had people with money in their pockets.

"Thousands of people would flood out of the factories at the end of the week and this was something they looked forward to.

" He is also proud to remind you that Hampden still holds European attendance records, set in 1937, and that these were world records until the building of the mighty Maracana in Brazil

The museum follows Scottish football through the industrial revolution then into the 20th century and the growth of professionalism in the sport. Scottish players, increasingly admired for their passing style of football, migrated south to accept the financial rewards offered by wealthy English clubs.

The continuing Scottish influence in England is well documented in the museum, with shirts worn by Billy Bremner for Leeds United in the 1970s and Willie Gibson's Newcastle United league championship jersey from 1927.

One case in particular which is bound to prove a popular one - for Scottish visitors at least - is dedicated to the "Wembley Wizards" team which beat England 5-1 in 1928. The match ball, smuggled from the pitch under a player's jersey, and the shirt worn that day by Jimmy Gibson take pride of place.

Walk further and you may be confused to walk past life sized sculptures of flailing defenders dressed in white and orange, before realised that you have just "re-enacted" the steps of Archie Gemmill on his way to scoring that wonderful goal against Holland in 1978.

Other highlights include the press box which once perched precariously atop the old Hampden stand. You may raise a chuckle at Archie McPherson's sheepskin jacket or Dougie Donnelly's anorak, but - unless you have never watched football on television - these are inescapably part of the fabric of Scottish football history.

Although many Scottish clubs are underrepresented in the museum, its curators hope to fill in any gaps - with the help of those clubs, of course. There are still gems hiding in the attics of former players and their families, and they can find a safe home in the museum.

Although Scottish football, and the national team in particular, dominates the museum, there is something here to entice football fans of any nationality.

A French shirt worn by the legendary Raymond Kopa in 1953, a Real Madrid shirt from Alfredo di Stefano's testimonial match in 1967 and an England shirt donated by Terry Butcher can all be found in the collection.

"The history of the game is very Anglo-centric, and that is because the history in Scotland has never been adequately looked at," says O'Brien. At last the first steps have been taken to putting that injustice right.

For more information contact the museum on 0141 616 6100 or visit the website at:

http://www.scottishfootballmuseum.org.uk/

 

 

 

 

 

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