If you'll be traveling to Scotland, whether you're a lover of sports or not, attending a football game at Glasgow's Hampden Park is one of the best ways to become familiar with the local culture. Of course, in Europe, football is soccer to Americans, and in Scotland, football is an obsession with most residents.
Catching a game at Hampden Park is the ultimate authentic Scottish experience. Glasgow is the center of Scottish football, and home to the two biggest teams in the nation, the Rangers and Celtic FC. They are one of the world's biggest rivalries, with both in existence since 1888, far surpassing one of the NFL's biggest rivalries, the Oakland Raiders and the Denver Broncos.
Glasgow's Hampden Park is home to the Scotland's national team, and its fans are called the Tartan Army. Many fans attend the game wearing a traditional Scottish kilt, and while it's certainly not a requirement, if you have the urge to do so, now would be the time. If not, a pair of jeans with a dark blue shirt will do just fine.
Hampden Park is also home to the Queen's Park Rangers FC, whose colors are blue and white, not to be confused with the English or Welsh football clubs. The Scottish club is the oldest outside of England and Wales founded back in 1867.
All European football leagues start their season in August, continuing through May or June of the following year. Tickets for the Queen's Park FC matches can be purchased right at the gate for only £12.00. For Scotland matches you'll have to go online. They initially go on sale to members of the official Scotland Supporters Club, and if any remain they'll be made available to the public.
If you decide to attend a match between the Rangers and Celtic, keep in mind that this is a very heated rivalry, and you may not want to bring small children. Generally, most events are family friendly. Always remember to be respectful of all fans and use reasonable common sense. Rangers' fans are allocated to the east side of the stadium, though the north and south ends of the stadium will provide the best view of the game.
If you're hungry, try the highly recommended Hampden Steak Pie for just £1.90 They're typically filled with steak, ox kidney, chopped sausages and mouth-watering gravy, topped with a delicious puff pastry.
As with most sporting events, you'll find a fair number of heavy drinkers. If you decide to imbibe, remember that driving under the influence of alcohol is taken very seriously in Scotland. You don't want to spend your holiday in a Scottish jail. Public transport by rail or train is both cheap and easily accessible.
Most importantly, have fun and bring a little passion and enthusiasm for the game. You'll likely have a great adventure as well as meet some of the friendliest people in the world.
Written by K.C. Dermody
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