Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Firhill Tarred with Murrayfield’s Brush?

In all the chatter last week about how Gordon McKie had let down the pro-teams in recent years, there were a couple of comments that look nice when you want to make a point in an article about their general rugby malaise but I didn’t think were strictly fair.

The pro-teams have been let down in terms of funding, but to say that both teams play in grounds devoid of atmosphere is, from what I have seen on TV a bit harsh. Of course I am not talking about Murrayfield which holds true of every criticism levelled at it last season – too big, too empty, too immune to the feelings of season ticket holders. I’m talking about their cousins in the west, who instead of battling SRU bureaucracy, are battling the Old Firm in their own heartland to try and snaffle a group of regular supporters.

Sure the crowds are not massive but it seems to me that Glasgow are certainly trying to build the sort of fanatical and supportive crowd that has to be the key element of a team’s support – especially in Glasgow where they take fanaticism seriously. When I’ve seen it on TV it always seems noisy, supportive and good fun. Having never been myself I felt I should do a quick poll on Twitter, here are some of the comments that came back:

“Given the size of the crowds the atmosphere at Firhill is great especially when the team need backing.”

“Crap compared to the French grounds, but still a good atmosphere. Better than most other grounds in the league!”

“Firhill is always noisy, plenty of kids support and crowd involvement. The sound that hits the other stand is amazing!”

“Obviously never been to a Glasgow game at Firhill! Maybe they went to Firpark??”

“No comparison. Firhill is small enough to have a good atmosphere even with the (sadly) smaller rugby crowds of the modern era”

Thanks to the tweeps for their comments, which go some way to show that there is indeed a strong vocal support for Glasgow: a core around which to build a fanbase. Mission for next season: get along to a Glasgow home game!

Then just as I thought I’d figured it out and I (plus chums above) was right and everyone else wrong, I saw this discussion over on the new rogue 606 and another can of whoopass is opened on Firhill, this time by Ruan Pienaar. We can probably all agree that the pitch does often look a little like a rabbit warren in a sand-dune, although it’s not totally clear if that is what he meant. Still, if I gave up the sun and surf of Durban to play in the Rabodirect Pro12, I’d be bitter too.

My initial opinion was that Glasgow were some way ahead of Edinburgh in terms of developing a community spirit (if not a pitch). They have great training facilities, seem more involved in the community, regular chat on Twitter and all that. Plus Sean Lineen seems to have made a few astute signings in Troy Nathan and Tommy Seymour and while the crowds lessened somewhat last season, a few good results could see things on the up at Firhill again.

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1 Response

  1. Rory – yes you should prioritise getting along to Firhill to sample the atmosphere for yourself. To be honest I’m not bothered if Pienaar does not like the ground, I would be bothered however if the Glasgow players hated playing there!

    The pitch after Christmas was a bit of a disaster and had as much sand on it as it did grass, but I don’t think it effected the rugby much. Unlike Murrayfield we don’t have access to expensive lights to make the grass grow back. The changing rooms are also meant to be quite small and visiting teams seem not to like this. This, however, is quite different from fans experience.

    The crowd are vocal and proximity to the pitch means that you feel very involved in the game. There’s many a time I’ve come away from a game and been surprised to see the official gate as it’s felt that there were many more people at the game than the count indicates.

    The other plus is the Foyer of the Main Stand and the Players Bar. Several times a year players will be available to sign things for the kids in the Foyer of the Main Stand. Next to this is the Players Bar where players and supporters can mix after the game. This all helps to generate an atmosphere where you feel that it’s not an us and them but that we are all part of the same club.

    There are things that could be done to improve the Firhill experience, but some of this is out of the Warriors control as they only rent the place. So I’m not sure it’s worth paying for a Big Screen or other things like that as who knows how long we’ll be there.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion