Friday, February 8, 2019

Restoration - Week 37

Weather been Hellish of late but still managed another 2 weeks of graft at Cathkin. Horrible, dirty and unglamorous work but necessary and every day a little improvement is evident. With the ground frozen hard we turned again to cleaning the concrete pitch wall, cleaning and scrubbing down years 

of growth but it is restoring well, but still too cold and wet to start repainting. We moved 100 buckets of earth this week from the terracing and running track and the work to level this important aspect of the stadium has been tough-going! Tyre marks, ruts and moss have ruined the top layer, rendering it

unsafe to run on and thus the ground has lost a valuable asset. We are cutting it down 2 inches all round the pitch and defining the borders which should enable the pitch to dry out better as the water will run into the lower level of the track, as it used to be.

We have cleared 70 feet of this track now but with the frost it has been the stuff of nightmares this last 10 days. As the photos here show the track below is in firmer condition which we are packing hard and will then resurface with fresh blaes in the summer months.

The trees are now all bare of leaves and this is my favourite time of year to work at the park as you can clearly see exactly what remains of the terracing and can get a real feel for how the ground once looked. Also this week we were sent some amazing press reports and sketches of how the stadium

looked when Alloa Athletic were the first team to grace New Cathkin Park when Thirds took over the ground in 1903. Every week another little bit of this old ground's amazing history pops up and we are condensing all of this information into a souvenir book which is being written up at the moment.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Restoration - Week 36 - 1 Year In!!

A year now into our restoration of the ground and thanks again to more clearance work from the Council's team we have all sections of the terracing basically cleaned up!!

As you can see from these photos the ground has not looked as good as this for years and we are delighted with the progress thus far. Been back-breaking work at times but more determined than

ever before to continue this work and get the old place back to proper usage. I reckon the Council's help has saved about a year's work from CPL and although the terracing in the South-East corner

is in very poor condition, it can now be accessed once again and with the trees now bare of leaves the place does really feel like a 'sleeping' old football stadium once more and far better an experience

for those wishing to visit Cathkin Park. Hopefully now we can push on with fundraising to get to the next phase of our work and start replacing some of the missing concrete between the terrace steps.

But for now enjoy the pics and thank you for all the interest, support, comments and 'likes' on our social media pages and for all of the recent press coverage. Much appreciated!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Restoration - Week 35

Back to Cathkin again this week and worked on the East Terracing once again as well as cleaning more of the terrace stonework we managed to get another 5 foot section of the pitch wall cleared of moss and old paint in preparation for repainting this month.

The Council have cleared the leaves from the North End and the ground does really look much improved in this last 11 months of work. Cleaned another 2 x 1/3 sections of terrace steps and filled with blaes and got some weeding done on this same section.

The running track is again looking rough so decided to crack on with levelling and clearing it as well and recycling the top layer to again rebuild our planned 'Spion Kop' on the old stand-side as this will provide a firmer base on which to refashion a rudimentary Victorian terrace in the years to come.

But as you can see it's slow work but does massively improve the track surface and we aim to get most of the 400 yard track levelled and cleared by the end of this year which will make it far safer to run on once again. This is a track that the likes of Willie Maley and Harry McNeill raced on late in the 19th Century and deserves to be restored to a functioning surface again.

Delighted with how the old pitch wall has turned out following a three days of intensive scrubbing! And depending on the weather we will start repainting it in sections as we restore each small part of this East Terrace. We also began to replace the top surface of grass at this end of the ground which

was damaged previously but replaced with stone chip which has prevented the grass from regrowing. There is a broken drain underneath which has allowed the ground to flood at this East corner but the grass should now recover with our mix of turf over the top in all the 'bald' areas. So, almost a year into the restoration we are on track to make further repairs and improvements to the ground in 2019.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Restoration - Week 34

So we are 34 weeks into our restoration work! Work commitments have slowed things down this month but delighted to get stuck back in to the East Terracing again. Moss has already crept over the recently-cleared stonework and weeds re-appeared but we will go back along each terrace and clear it again before the end of this year.

Cleared another 3 sections of tree roots, weeds & earth this week and back-filled 1/3 terrace step with red blaes. Also managed to level out another couple of square foot sections of the running track and removed another dozen buckets of waste from this area. The whole ground is carpeted with leaves

but we will wait until all the trees are bare before sweeping the terracing again. Winter is my favourite time of year to get this work done as the trees devoid of vegetation finally reveals the full atmospheric 'bowl' of the old stadium and shows us exactly what still remains underneath.

We have launched an ambitious plan to start raising funds to replace the missing concrete and eventually replace the old brick pavilion which once stood on the North trackside, with the announcement of our upcoming theatre show THE BENNY LYNCH STORY. We have been developing this idea for 7 years and delighted to have Davie Carswell come up with an excellent script. Benny fought 5 times at Cathkin and won every bout and this seems a fitting tribute to launch CPL as a Production Company.

The wonderful cast includes Stephen Purdon, Holly Jack & David Hayman and is directed by David Hayman Jr and the tour dates are above. We will be donating a percentage of the profits of this tour to the Benny Lynch Statue Fund and to the #Restore2ndHampden Fund. The show will run again in Glasgow in 2020, when hopefully Benny will have his statue up by then! Check out our show's website here:

We have gained nationwide press coverage this month for the show and huge thanks to Simon Houston and George Mair for covering the tour and getting the show out there. Lots more to come folks and hope to see you at some of the shows?

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Restoration - Week 33

Like something from an enchanted forest, parts of the old ground are coming back to what they once were and emerging from a blanket of moss and weed. With the wet weather I have been able to dig deep and get entrenched large roots cut out and removed from this East section of the terracing.

The moss particularly has been thickest here and on these riser steps and again most of the concrete has long gone, so we are bucketing out the ash infill and scrubbing what stone remains. As you can see from these close-ups, the moss is like a green sticky wool and a bugger to remove properly.

But another ten hours graft this week made another wee dent in this section and every little bit done greatly improves the look of the terracing. Working with wire brushes as it is the only way to remove the moss almost strand by strand, but it is a laborious process.

However the stonework underneath is in great condition and scrubs up really well. Been sifting all of the spoil from here as well but still not unearthed anything of historical interest! Then we remove all of the ash, stone and mud from each terrace step before repacking the earth underneath and then

covering with buckets of red blaes from the track. This is, I hasten to add only a temporary solution and this will need to be back-filled with concrete in the next 12 months before we can truly sign off the work here. But it looks 100% better than it did in January when we began the restoration!!

We aim to have this section completed by the end of 2018, which would be 1/3 of this terrace restored and both riser stairwells. The side sections will be cleared and fixed up once the trees have shed their leaves and we can see the terracing a bit more clearly.

Then the plan is to move on to the last remaining untouched section still extant, on the SE corner, which has all but disappeared under the trees and waist-high weeds. And again due to the soft earth due to the heavy rain we managed to get working again on the running track this week, clearing another 12 x ? ft section. This was then packed hard and levelled out and is an improvement on the bumpy, unsafe surface it has been for as long as I have been involved here. It's another BIG job and will take at least a year to put right. But already I can envisage the thundering footsteps of players

racing around the running track again....or perhaps that is just the ghosts of all of those footballers who trained and played here over the last 134 years? 

Thursday, November 1, 2018

When New Cathkin was 2nd Hampden...

From the QPHistory blog: Queen’s Park’s new ground, also named Hampden Park, was to be opened on Saturday 18 October 1884. On the previous day, the North British Daily Mail gave some details of what it described as Queen’s Park’s “handsome new ground”

The ground was fully six acres in extent and a short distance from the Govanhill Car Terminus. It was also in the immediate vicinity of the proposed Govanhill Station of the Cathcart District Railway.The railway contractors had been responsible for levelling the pitch, which was a turfed two acres, practically flat and with just sufficient fall to allow natural drainage. The running track was exactly a quarter mile and was 15 feet wide.

The bicycle track would not be completed until the following spring. On the south side of the pitch, on rising ground, was a grand stand that was 80 yards long and had seating for 900.The area in front of the stand was terraced. On the north side of the ground was another grand stand, 100 yards long and seating 1,200.

There was a new brick pavilion in the south-west corner of the ground. As well as changing facilities, the pavilion had club and committee rooms. The Evening Times said that the entrances to the ground were at the north-west corner.

The new Hampden Park opened on Saturday 18 October 1884 as scheduled,with a match between Queen’s Park & Dumbarton. As the oldest member of the Queen’s Park side,Charles Campbell had the honour of taking the kick-off before a crowd of up to 6,000.Queen’s dominated but it finished 0-0.

One newspaper commented that the pitch was almost dead level, showing a remarkable contrast to the old Hampden Park. QPFC Team: G Gillespie; J McDougall and J G Wallace; C Campbell and J G MacDonald; R M Christie, D S Allan, W Harrower, W W Watt, W Anderson and N McWhannell.

Another bit of info from John Litster"s THIRD LANARK : "A new pavilion was built on the South side of the pitch (1883) and alongside it was erected the stand from 1st Hampden. In Nov 1887 a roof was erected over the South stand" Soooo, this is indeed the original stand from the first Hampden Park!

From A HISTORY OF QPFC 1867-1917 by Richard Robinson, we have this...On the 12/01/1886 Scottish Athletic Journal stated " A picture gallery has been added to the many attractions at Hampden Park. Quite a number of works in oil have been presented to Queens Park FC by the merchant friend of one of it's most influential members"

"it is confidently expected that the collection will receieve some valuable additions from the private galleries of the members. The exhibition will be open to the public soon" (1886)

The photo above shows the brick Pavilion in 1887 with the players from Sheffield and Glasgow at the Inter-City match at Hampden 2."1889, the pavilion at second Hampden Park was raised a storey, a gymnasium added, and a competent instructor installed."

The idea of a gymnasium for the members seems to have originated with Mr. James Lawrence, who was president of the Queen’s Park for three seasons. At the annual general meeting in May, 1889, he drew attention to the want of variety in the system of training, running being really the only form of exercise members could avail themselves of. The chairman, Mr. Stewart Lawrie, said that the erection of a small gymnasium had been thought of, and, as a substantial balance was in bank, the idea would probably take definite shape very shortly. It did take shape when the pavilion was enlarged in 1889, and a spacious gymnasium was built at the back, with Mr. Benson, Glasgow University Gymnasium, as instructor.

There were regular QPFC Sports Days: "In the late ‘eighties and early ‘nineties there was a great influx to the club of athletic and •cycling members, who found the conveniences of the Queen’s Park track met a much-felt want, and these took full advantage of its amenities.The club at first was reluctant to take such men into full membership, as its first and last business was football. Permits were issued for training on the track, with full use of the pavilion and trainer to non-members

It was a great satisfaction to the club to find its efforts in this direction so fully appreciated. The track was constantly being improved, widened, and the banking brought up to the latest speed requirements.Interestingly though, looking at the original Hampden 1 Pavilion below, it seems that the

roof was removed from here and shifted across Cathcart Road to Hampden 2 in 1884, when the world's first brick football pavilion was erected at the new ground. The second storey was built in 1889 with the profits from the large crowds Queens Park were attracting. According to Graeme Brown at the Hampden Bowling Club the roof was moved 5 times and taken to pieces each time!

Queens Park played their home games at Titwood Park, home of Clydesdale Cricket Club whilst waiting for their new ground to be completed in the 1883/84 season. The new 2nd Hampden was on ground leased from Messrs Dixon & Co Ltd. The pitch at the new ground was levelled by the Railway contractor and the grandstands on both sides of the pitch were erected.

The new brick pavilion was built at a cost of £95 and the old wooden pavilion placed at it's rear. In 1889 as we have seen previously, the pavilion was extended with a second floor added, spending £550 and taking the unusual step of covering the South stand. And in 1888 the first ever 'World Cup' was played here on the 19th of May, as Renton defeated English Champions West Bromwich Albion 4-1!

This world famous match is portrayed above in this sketch, courtesy of Robert Bradley & Douglas Gorman. The striking thing for me about the sketch is how imposing and impressive 2nd Hampden is sketched with the large QPFC flag above the players pavilion. This tradition would continue with Third Lanark when they moved into the ground in 1903 and renamed the stadium 'New Cathkin Park.'

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Restoration - Week 32

A cold snap but cracked on with the East Terrace this week and cleared lots more buckets of spoil from this section. Ground frozen hard so unable to work on the running track which has deteriorated again recently, but got another series of terrace steps completely cleared, roots removed and bushes

cut away to clear more of a path through this jungle! Ignoring the weeds for now until we can get a decent amount of weedkiller and letting the leaves carpet the other terraces for now before we sweep and bag them later in November when the trees are finally bare.

Again it has been close work with wire brush and scraper, followed by repacking the earth below before resurfacing with red blaes and nice to see so much of the original stonework coming back to life under 50 years of growth and neglect.

But the photo above demonstrates just how much we still have to do to clear this terrace and how thick the trees and weeds have grown through this area over recent years. But the old ground is now enjoying it's 135th year of existence and we are only 10 full months into it's restoration and already the place feels very different.

Restoration - Week 37

Weather been Hellish of late but still managed another 2 weeks of graft at Cathkin. Horrible, dirty and unglamorous work but necessary and e...