• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Why the host city has gone to the dogs

IT WAS 27 degrees in Abuja yesterday.

Slightly warmer than Glasgow, but only slightly. In Nigeria's capital the sporting story of the day saw the country's football association meeting to discuss the failure of the Super Eagles at Brazil 2014.

One wonders, though, if many in the city were also asking themselves 'what if?'. What if Abuja, not Glasgow had won the bid for the Commonwealth Games? What would yesterday have been like in Abuja? What would it have been like in Glasgow for that matter?

Quieter probably. Glasgow greeted the first day of the Games yesterday by turning itself inside out. The weather probably helped, but by lunchtime the Merchant City was a bustling human traffic jam of tourists, games volunteers and locals soaking up the games atmosphere. Some were still hopeful of experiencing it at first hand. There were queues outside the ticket office in George Square from before nine in the morning.

Others had already had their Glasgow 2014 experience. On the corner of Wilson Street, Hammad Khawaja was killing time before heading home to Lancaster. He'd come up for the Opening Ceremony. The thing that struck him, he said, was how many countries Britain used to control. Mr Khawaja is originally from Pakistan but lived in Glasgow before moving to England. The city has "become more vibrant" in his time away.

Nowhere more so than Glasgow Green. On the main stage was a 70-strong choir of Glasgow 2014 volunteers, while Alesha Dixon - yes, that Alesha Dixon - was the first to race against the virtual Usain Bolt at Virgin Media's interactive track. Usain won. Dixon's heels may not have helped. She got her Scottish manager to go next. "That's how Glasgow does it," the compere said. " 'Hold my fags, I'm going to beat Usain'."

Hurdler Eilidh Child appeared for a low-key meet-and-greet at 1.30pm, by which time the first medal of the Games had been won.

As England's Jodie Stimpson crossed the line, Nolan Clarke waved his tiny St George's flag at the big screen. Mr Clarke and his wife June have travelled up by caravan from Devon for the Games. They'd been to London two years ago, too. Last night's ceremony, was, June reckoned "much better than the Olympics".

"We loved the dogs," added Nolan, "a real Scottish twist".

They have tickets for hockey and badminton. "That's all we've been able to get." So what are they going to do for the rest of their time? "Come down here, look at the big screens and join in with everybody else."

Back in the Merchant City Jock the dog - one of the aforementioned stars of the Opening Ceremony - was making a personal appearance. In Brunswick Street, Siobhan Wilson sang Burns songs as people applied suncream. Glasgow was enjoying itself.

So what have we learnt. That Alesha Dixon isn't as fast over 30m as Usain Bolt. That the Team Scotland captain can walk around Glasgow Green and not be recognised (that may change), and the real hit of the Opening Ceremony was the dogs.

Back in George Square people were queuing to have their picture taken in front of the giant G. The host city volunteers say they've been given people's phones hundreds of times to take photos. "I'm making a fortune," one of them jokes. "I've got 10 cameras in my bag."

Contextual targeting label: 
Sport

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

250071