At Scotland’s two appearances to date in the European Championship Finals we have played in four cities and not only didthey contrast sharply but so did the stadia.
Scotland opened their Euro 92 campaign against the Netherlands in the 44,000 capacity Ullevi Stadion in Gothenburg. 35,720 saw us lose 0-1 thanks to a goal from Denis Bergkamp. Scotland then moved from the largest stadium in the tournament to the smallest – the 23,000 capacity Idrottsparken in Norrkoping. There,17,638 saw us lose, somewhat unluckily to Germany 0-2 whilst only 14,660 witnessed our 3-0 victory over the C.I.S. High prices plus low expectations may have been factors in these low attendances but comparatively speaking Sweden’s grounds were small and UEFA would raise the bar soon thereafter.
I purchased the two Swedish postcards in 2000 but I suspect the images pre-date the Euros. Interesting to note that on the reverse of the Gothenburg card there is a list of the record attendances for sports events held there including boxing,ice hockey, speedway and speed-skating as well as football. This is also the stadium that held mixed fortunes for Aberdeen and Dundee United in their European Finals. In 2009 a new football-only stadium opened in Gothenburg – I expect the track at the old stadium had something to do with it.
Way down south – in Birmingham – 34,363 and then 34,926 of us piled into Villa Park to see Scotland draw 0-0 with our friends the Netherlands and then beat Switzerland 1-0 at Euro 96.The famous Holte End is nearest the camera and from there I clearly saw John Collins handle the ball in the far away penalty box against the Dutch but fortunately for us the referee, who was much closer, missed it completely. In between these two games a crowd of 76,864 were at Old Wembley [aka the most famous greyhound stadium in the world] to see a tragicomedy involving Scotland and England. When they rebuilt Wembley it too ditched the perimeter track. They also got rid of the external drainpipes which ticket-less Scots fans scaled to gain entry to the stadium in the 1970s. In case you didn’t know, Peter Parker was a Scotland supporter.
And so to France 2016 – hopefully. There the ten stadia have a capacity range of 33,000 to 81,000. Bring it on – please…
First posted on Facebook May 9th, 2015