Played in Glasgow – charting the heritage of a city at play

  • By: Ged O’Brien
  • Format: 228pp softback 210mm x 210mm
  • ISBN: 978 0954744 557
  • Published by Malavan Media in association with Historic Scotland in March 2010
  • Featuring specially commissioned photography by Stuart Wallace, award winning photographer with the Sunday Times
  • Special offer: £5 post-free to UK (original RRP 14.99) BUY NOW

Glasgow has long been at the forefront of sporting development. It is well documented – if not always acknowledged south of the border – that the modern form of Association football owes its origins to the ‘passing game’ of Queen’s Park FC in the 1870s, and that by the early 20th century Glasgow’s three leading football clubs had the largest stadiums in the world. Nor is it a coincidence that the world’s first specialist stadium designer, Archibald Leitch, was a Glaswegian engineer.

But beyond Hampden Park and the famed (and often infamous) rivalry of Celtic and Rangers, there exists across Glasgow a fascinating network of Junior clubs, community grounds and hidden heritage. The red, dusty ‘blaes’ pitch – scourge of many a schoolboy’s knees – is as much a part of that heritage as are the swards of Glasgow Green.

Over the last century Glasgow has had three racecourses and eight greyhound tracks. It has a surprising number of long established cricket clubs, and a range of fine Edwardian and Art Deco pavilions too. It was in Glasgow in 1848 that the rules of modern bowling were set out – leading to a higher concentration of greens in the city than anywhere else in Britain. The most popular of these greens, laid out on the site of the 1901 Kelvingrove International Exhibition, will host the 2014 Commonwealth Games tournament. Also in Glasgow is the world’s oldest manufacturer of bowls equipment, Thomas Taylor.

As might be expected in Scotland, the map of Glasgow is dotted and ringed by a web of nearly 40 public and private golf courses, many with their own topographic quirks and interesting clubhouses. Less evidence survives of nearly a hundred former curling ponds, although author Ged O’Brien has discovered the 1902 clubhouse of the Partick Club, hidden away in a Glasgow park. O’Brien also reveals where Britain’s first black footballer lived in the 1880s when he captained Queen’s Park and was capped by Scotland, and the site of the private swimming club where the sport of water polo was invented in 1877. Two other Victorian private baths clubs survive and thrive – the Arlington and the Western – each with original features not to be found anywhere outside Scotland. Less well known is a network of home-made ‘doocots’, built by rival pigeon-fanciers on wastegrounds across the city as part of a time-honoured local tradition. O’Brien enters this secretive world to explain how it is done.

With its accessible blend of social, cultural, historical and architectural detail, backed up by stunning archive and modern photography and maps, Played in Glasgow offers a new angle on the city’s rich heritage as it prepares the next generation of 21st Century sporting facilities for 2014.

Played in Glasgow was sponsored by Historic Scotland and Glasgow City Council and predated Glasgow’s hosting of the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

“Played in Glasgow is a superb addition to the lexicography of sport in Glasgow, and, in my opinion, the most intelligent, informative, well-researched and wonderfully readable of any that I have ever come across.” Mike Stanger, cricketscotland

“If sport without a history is sport without a soul, O’Brien has struck a blow for preserving that soul.” Doug Gillon, The Herald

“An exhaustive volume of original research… part of the uniformly brilliant Played in Britain series.” The Observer

“Overtly, Played in Glasgow is about sporting heritage, but really it is about one of the most appealing of human emotions, enthusiasm… O’Brien has written not only a fine book but also a good piece of ethnology.” John Burnett, Journal of Ethnological Studies

Ged O’Brien acted as a consultant to the National Museum of Labour History and chaired the Greater Manchester branch of the Football Supporters Association. Thereafter he taught in both Nottingham and Southampton, before moving to Glasgow in 1993 to become project director of what was to be the world’s first national football museum, opened at Hampden Park in 2001. He also served for five years as chair of the Association of Sports Historians. By this time, totally smitten with Glasgow, he returned to teaching in 2005. Ged’s research on Scottish football history and on the footballer Andrew Watson can be found here.