Firhill Stadium, viewed from Firhill Road
|Owner||Partick Thistle F.C.|
|Partick Thistle F.C.
Hamilton Academical F.C.
Firhill Stadium or Firhill Arena (also previously known as Firhill Park, but commonly referred to as simply Firhill) is a football, rugby union and rugby league stadium located in the Maryhill area of Glasgow, Scotland. It has been the home ground of Scottish Premiership football club Partick Thistle since 1909.
Past ground-sharing agreements have also seen Firhill act as a temporary home for two other football clubs, Clyde and Hamilton Academical. It was also a venue for the 2000 Rugby League World Cup and the Glasgow Warriors rugby union team between 2007 and 2012.
Partick Thistle played at various sites between 1876 and 1891, including Kelvingrove, Jordanvale Park and Muir Park. The club settled at Meadowside, beside the River Clyde, in 1891. They were forced out of this site in 1908, however, to make way for a shipyard. The club found some spare Caledonian Railway land in Maryhill, which became the site of Firhill. The ground was due to open on 21 August 1909, but the match was postponed because it had not been declared safe for public use and planning consent had not been obtained. Firhill opened a month later.
The site was purchased by the club for £5,500. The record attendance for a Partick Thistle game at Firhill was set against Rangers in 1922, when 49,838 people attended. The present main stand was constructed in 1927 and the terraces were improved. Although the main stand resembles an Archibald Leitch design, it was in fact designed by David Mills Duncan, who had previously worked for Leitch. The stadium's attendance record was set by the 1928 British Home Championship match between Scotland and Ireland, when 54,728 people attended.
Firhill was one of several Scottish grounds that used greyhound racing as an alternative source of income in the 1930s. There were no further improvements until the early 1950s, when Thistle had a relatively successful period. This success financed a roof over part of the terracing and floodlights, which were first used in a friendly match against Tottenham Hotspur in November 1955. Firhill hosted the first European Cup match ever to be played in Glasgow, when Swedish club Djurgårdens played their "home" match against Hibernian in 1955–56. Djurgårdens played at Firhill because of the freezing conditions in Sweden at the time of the match.
Firhill became designated under the Safety of Sports Grounds Act in 1977, which reduced its capacity from over 40,000 to 20,500. In 1986, Firhill became the first Scottish ground in modern times to be used by more than one team, when Clyde moved in after being evicted from Shawfield. This arrangement lasted until 1991. Hamilton Academical then shared Firhill with Thistle in two different spells, the first arrangement beginning in 1994. To cope with the resulting additional usage, undersoil heating was installed in 1994. The Jackie Husband Stand, opened in December 1994, is an impressive large cantilever stand which was built on the site of a huge section of enclosed terracing.
The North Stand was built in 2002 to meet the Scottish Premier League criteria on stadium capacity, which stated at the time that member clubs must have 10,000 seats in their ground. Ironically this criterion was later changed to only 6,000 seats, which not only allowed for the relegation of Partick Thistle, but meant they had spent much of their resources on a stand that under new regulations was unnecessary. Originally, the stand only ran for two thirds the length of the pitch, but it was extended in 2003. The construction of this stand was assisted by the sale of some land to allow the construction of student flats which now lie behind the stand.
Structure and facilities
The modern stadium comprises three seated stands, with an unused area at the south end. The current capacity of the ground includes 10,102 seats with no standing areas available. The Main Stand was built with an original capacity of 6,000, but now holds somewhere closer in the region of 2,900 seats. There is a small enclosure of terracing at the front of the stand. In January 2006, the club announced that the Main Stand would no longer be used on matchdays due to high maintenance and stewarding costs. There have been exceptions, however, including the Scottish Cup match against Rangers and the final match of the league season against Greenock Morton. On both occasions away fans were seated in the North Stand and the Main Stand. Also when Glasgow Warriors played derby matches against Edinburgh, the main stand was typically used.
All home fans are now housed in the stand opposite the old stand, the Jackie Husband Stand. The stand is a large cantilever building, and was constructed in 1994 with a capacity of 6,263 and is named after former Thistle player Jackie Husband. The newest stand is the North Stand, at one end of the ground. This stand was built in 2002 to replace the old terracing, in order to comply with SPL standards. This has a capacity of 2,014 and houses Thistle's singing section.
Thistle had announced plans to replace the disused terracing at the south end of the ground, commonly known as the "City End" with a new structure that would consist of a 1,000-seat stand as well as residential and office accommodation. However, planning permission from Glasgow City Council was not forthcoming. Planning for a new development is ongoing. The grassy bank at the City End has come to be known by the fans as "The Bing".
In December 2005 Firhill also became the home of Glasgow's professional rugby union team, Glasgow Warriors, when they moved from their previous base at Hughenden Stadium. After returning to Hughenden in 2006, the Warriors took up a two-year residency at Firhill from the start of the 2007–08 Celtic League season. This was extended in April 2009 for a further five years. Glasgow Warriors left Firhill after the 2011–12 season and moved to Scotstoun Stadium.
In 1996, Firhill was the site of the Scottish national rugby league team's first game on home soil, a victory over their Irish counterparts. Rugby league, very much a minority sport in Scotland, has returned to the ground on several occasions since, including for the 2000 World Cup.
Maryhill railway station, which is served by trains from Glasgow Queen Street, is the closest railway station to Firhill. The walk between the two sites takes between 20 and 25 minutes. Firhill is better served by the Glasgow Subway network, with Kelvinbridge and St George's Cross stations within 15 minutes walk of the stadium. The A81 road (Maryhill Road), leading to Firhill Road, runs from the M8 motorway.
- Inglis 1996, p. 459
- "Partick Thistle". Scottish Football Ground Guide. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
- "News – Partick Thistle Football Club". Ptfc.co.uk. Retrieved 19 June 2010.[dead link]
- Firhill pitch can cope with rugby, insists chairman, stv interview, 21 June 2007[dead link]
- Rumsby, Ben. "Glasgow to stay at Firhill for next five years – Scotsman.com Sport". Sport.scotsman.com. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
- "Warriors look to create fortress at Firhill". Magners League Official Website.
- "STATEMENT FROM GLASGOW WARRIORS AND SCOTTISH RUGBY ON SCOTSTOUN STADIUM". www.glasgowwarriors.org (Glasgow Warriors). 30 September 2011. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
- Reid, Alasdair (28 June 2012). "Early season-ticket sales rise 500% as Glasgow settle in at Scotstoun". The Herald (Herald & Times Group). Retrieved 14 July 2012.
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