Hampden Park - Sample Essay

Hampden Park began to create more records as it grew with the addition of more terracing and a North Stand. The attendance of the Scotland game versus England in April 1937 was officially recorded as 149,415. It is believed that as many as ten thousand more may have seen the game. It has to be remembered that Scotland’s population was under 5 million people so the attendances at these matches show the popularity of football within the country. (Smout, 1994)

International Football identities very much represent the identity of the particular country; for example, England are portrayed as thugs due to their ‘so called’ fans extreme behaviour. Fans’ behaviour is described in contrasting styles either they represent Carnival style of support, or they are Hooligans. Carnival behaviour is still associated with alcoholism, but it remains non-violent (Finn, 1998). In past years Scottish fans showed moderate violence whilst at Football matches, but still nothing compared to the antics of their southern neighbours, England. Often the social identity of Scottish fans is complicated by the existence of other, earlier variants of Scotland fan behaviour, which was Hooligan based.

Like in 1977 when Scotland defeated England at Wembley and full of joy the Scottish fans entered the pitch after the final whistle and ripped up the turf and broke the goalposts. This was to symbolise an epic victory and to get souvenirs of the game. So the carnival and hooligan categories have heuristic and self-identifying value. They are important analytical categories for examining the cultural structures of the Scottish fans’ activities. The Carnival-Hooligan differentiation also provides a consciously nurtured resource through which supporters develop and publicly sustain their distinctive cultural identities. (Finn, 1998)

As a nation, Scottish football behaviour is today a very ‘carnivalesque’, and this also includes when Scottish Club teams travel abroad to play other teams; for example, when Celtic travelled to Seville for the UEFA Cup Final against FC Porto in 2003. The Celtic fans’ behaviour was well mannered and passionate to say the least, and strictly non-violent but very loud! The interpretation and evaluation of Scottish fan behaviour is given greater complexity by the continuing uncertainty over how they should respond, and how they will respond, when they are confronted by ‘Hooliganism’, particularly relating to fans front England, of whom Scotland share the greatest rivalry (Finn, 1998).

Scotland fans’ effort to be non-violent is very much a symbol of their cultural identity, as well as it being a direct attempt to distinguish them from the English. The English are portrayed as ‘Hooligans’, and it is to Scottish people’s annoyance that many foreigners cannot distinguish between the two countries and their social and cultural norms. Underpinning the Tartan army’s repertoire is a collective anti-Englishness, strongly associated with the popular typification of English fans as ‘hooligans’ (Giulianotti, 1991).

This anti-Englishness possesses both a practical and cultural dimension. Scottish supporters deliberately project an image of themselves as being Scottish not English, and the stereotype of English fan hooliganism has proved highly ‘efficacious’ in generating a rapport with the local hosts when they are abroad. The hosts do make the assumption that Scottish fans are English, or mix this with the assumption that ‘British’ are Hooligans. Meaning that foreign people see British as Hooligans because of the English’s behaviour. This is probably due to fact the English have the same passport as the Scottish, so the expectation is that Scottish fans are violent. Scottish fans tend to defend themselves by explaining their cultural and historical differences, then expressing their contempt for such violent behaviour, and proceeding to blame it all on the English (Finn, 1998).

There are people in Scotland who share the sense of ‘Britishness’ with the English. In Football, Glasgow Rangers show unionism towards England. This maybe derived by Rangers’ intolerance towards Catholics and Celtic in general. But Englishmen who have played for Rangers in the past have shown their assimilation into Rangers’ club culture – for example Paul Gascoigne played the ‘Flute’ after he scored in a match against Glasgow Celtic. This action was seen as an insult as it was seen as Irish ranting. (Finn, 1998).

Domestically in Scotland there always have been, and still are today, issues with Catholic and Protestant religion. This stems into Football especially, where many clubs formed by the Catholic Irish population are involved in the rivalries and battles with the Protestant majority. For example the extreme rivalry between Glasgow Rangers and Glasgow Celtic. The historic racialisation of the Catholic Irish by significant sections of the dominant Scottish Protestant population is usually disguised when sections of the Scottish society and Football, discursively masked by the use of ‘sectarianism’ and the implicit failure to recognise inequalities of power between majority and minority groups. It is a fact though that anti-Catholicism is part of Scotland’s history and culture, so ‘anti-Catholicism’ is essentially seen as Scottish and part of what it means to be Scottish. The current efforts are to reach a social reality within Scotland, that racism is banished, and the avoidance of anti-Irish racism. (Dimeo, 1998).