THERE was welcome news for Scottish football fans this week – as we reported yesterday, Nicola Sturgeon has announced that restricted numbers of spectators will be allowed into grounds from Monday, September 14, all going well (there aren’t actually any games scheduled for that day, but never mind).

Strict social distancing measures will be in place, and no away supporters will be allowed, so we might be talking 5,000 fans or so in some cases.

Welcome though it will be, it’s still a very far cry from the halcyon days.

Our main picture shows fans streaming towards Hampden Park for the Home International between Scotland and England on April 17, 1937. This is noted as being the country’s record attendance: 149,415 lucky souls entered the ground with a match ticket, but it is said that at least 20,000 more got in without tickets. Receipts are given as £24,303. (A week later, the Celtic-Aberdeen Scottish Cup Final drew an official crowd of 147,365, with 20,000 more people locked outside; it is the country’s record attendance for a club match.)

In a further indication of how times have changed, Scotland won the match 3-1 – Stoke City’s Fred Steele opened the scoring for England on 40 minutes, Frank O’Donnell of Preston North End equalised just after half-time, and Rangers’ Bob McPhail (who is pictured above, relaxing at home with a book) scored a brace on 80 and 88 minutes to seal the win.

The website English Football Online, incidentally, states, somewhat sniffily, that the match was “not live on National Radio as the Scottish F.A. refused permission”. By way of contrast, when fans return to the Scottish game next month (hopefully), Sky TV will be broadcasting matches live and hundreds of thousands will be tuning in.

Some of us can hardly wait.