With Scotland currently in the middle of the pack population-wise amongst UEFA members and with coefficients to match, many would be surprised to learn that this country of just 5 million people holds the European record for largest attendance at a soccer match.
On April 17, 1937, an incredible crowd of 149,415 crammed into Hampden Park to cheer the Scottish national team to a 3-1 win over the Auld Enemy: England. It was the last match of the 1936-37 British Home Championship, a competition that involved the national teams of those two countries plus Wales and Ireland that was held from 1884-1984. The win secured second place for Scotland in that edition, behind Wales.
The capacity of Hampden Park at the time was estimated at 183,724. However, it would never host a crowd that exceeded 150,000.
At the time, the attendance figure set a world record, a mark that would be broken at the 1950 World Cup. The current world record crowd of 199,854 attended the final of that competition, which was contested between hosts Brazil and Uruguay and played in Rio de Janeiro. Many Scots lament the fact that since Scots had brought the sport to Brazil, they themselves are to blame for having lost this world record to that country.
Hampden Park was the world’s largest stadium from 1903-50. It hosted a crowd of more than 100,000 for the first time in 1906 when 102,741 attended a Scotland-England clash that year. Its last six-figure attendance came in 1973 when 122,714 attended the Scottish Cup final between Celtic and Rangers. Today, Hampden Park has an official capacity of 51,866.
Incredibly, Glasgow used to be home to not just the world’s biggest stadium but each of the world’s three largest facilities with the other two being club grounds Celtic Park and Ibrox Stadium.