THE violence started at 5pm. It did not abate until two hours later. 


The South Side of Glasgow trembled to the noise of emergency vehicles, the groans of the injured and to the clamour of the rioters. Above all this hung a pall of smoke. Hampden was burning.

The scene, newspapers subsequently reported, resembled that of a battlefield.

It was April 17, 1909. Rangers and Celtic had drawn 1-1 in a replay after being locked at 2-2 the previous week. Fans rioted. Hundreds of supporters and police were injured. The cup was withheld.

There is debate and doubt about the causes of the mayhem. There is one certainty. It was not caused by sectarian tension but had more to do with the creation of the Old Firm, then seen as a mutually beneficial alliance to make money.

David Potter, a Celtic historian, says in his biography of Willie Maley, Celtic's manager at the time: "Although Celtic were definitely the Catholic and Irish team of Scotland (and proud of it) Rangers had not yet involved themselves with the extreme Protestant cause."

So what happened to produce mayhem on the south side of Glasgow?

The accepted, most plausible version is that many of the supporters expected extra time to be played in the Scottish Cup final replay. They were outraged that after paying at least another shilling to watch a cup final they would be forced to reach into their pockets again before the cup was won.

Some may have believed the Old Firm were playing for a draw, conspiring to arrange another pay day when 60,000 fans would help fill their coffers. After all, that is how they achieved their monicker. The Scottish Referee periodical of April 16, 1904, carried a cartoon with a man with a sandwich board reading: "Patronise the Old Firm, Rangers Celtic Ltd." It is the first recorded mention of the term. But many fans on that April day merely thought they had been bilked out of extra time.

More than 120,000 fans watched the final and the replay. Willie Maley, the manager of Celtic, was often heard to say that there was money in football. There was no dissent from the Rangers side.

The riot was almost certainly sparked by a misunderstanding. Maley undoubtedly wanted extra time to be played as his team faced fixture congestion in a run for a sixth consecutive Scottish championship. He had publicly asked for extra-time but Rangers and the SFA turned that request down. The refusal, though, was not publicised as heavily as Maley's request.

After Jimmy Quinn and Jimmy Gordon scored for Celtic and Rangers respectively, the match drifted towards a draw. It was a drab, almost anaemic affair and fans may have believed there was collusion to force another replay.

Their mood was not improved when at full-time there seemed to be indecision among both sets of players over whether to leave the field or to stay on for an extra- time that was not scheduled and, indeed, was not to be played.

Sports journalists assumed the role of war correspondents as trouble brewed and then boiled over. "Large numbers of the vast crowd could hardly realise that the play was finished for the day and they stood awaiting the turn of events," reported the Glasgow Herald correspondent. He added: "Presently a few individuals invaded the playing pitch, apparently more in a spirit of curiosity and mischief."

It escalated when a "half intoxicated" young man came on to the pitch and performed a dance in front of a policeman who knocked him to the ground and assaulted him.

Sensing further trouble was inevitable, Tom Maley, brother of Willie, grabbed the Scottish Cup and the receipts of £1400 and took them to safety. The SFA announced a replay for Wednesday and some of the crowd made their way to the passage leading to the dressing-rooms.

Bottles and stones were launched but the rioters were foiled in their attempt to reach the dressing-rooms. They switched their focus to the rear of the covered stand and began dismantling it. Supporters began breaking up the goalposts before barriers were torn down and set on fire.

Baton charges and mounted surges by the police proved ineffective on the Hampden slopes.

''Soon a huge bonfire was in progress, fed by fuel brought from every possible quarter," observed one reporter.

The entrances on Somerville Drive were also set on fire. Police and firemen came under attack. They picked up the missiles thrown at them and hurled them back,.

A reporter claimed that at one time there were 200 policemen on the field, including 16 horsemen.

Most of the injuries seemed to be result of being hit with stones or by batons. But some surgeons later reported knife wounds among the police casualties.

The battle began to abate about 7pm, two hours after it had exploded. It left a scene of destruction and blood. Hampden was left battered, bruised and smoking.

The crowd eventually dispersed and casualties were taken to by wagon to the Victoria Infirmary. Souvenirs were taken from the field of battle.

"The crossbar of one of the goal posts was carried from the field into Somerville Road in front of the burning pay boxes and a crowd of men and boys hacked at it with pocket knives and pocketed the chips. Among the debris littering the ground was a number of policemen's helmets, which had been lost in the day's struggle. These were also the objective of the souvenir-hunter, being cut into strips and carried away," wrote a reporter.

"Curious to relate only one man was arrested in the course of the outbreak," a newspaper reported on the Monday. "He has been lodged in the Queen's Park Police Office and will be brought up to-day on a charge of assaulting a policeman and a soldier. It is stated that a plain clothes constable obtained the assistance of the soldier to effect the arrest. The police were, of course, practically powerless in the matter of apprehensions. Instances are recorded of rioters being taken into custody, but so savagely were the police handled that they were forced to let go their quarry."

There were, in fact, other arrests. The charges against two men accused of cutting up firemen's hoses were found not proven. The alleged attacker walked free, too. There was no retribution in court for the police.

It is impossible to record just how many were injured. More than 100 were thought to have been treated at the Victoria Infirmary but the records are sketchy. Medical staff placed the taking of notes secondary to staunching wounds. Similarly, many of those treated at the ground staggered home without being officially recorded as hurt.

As darkness settled on the battlefield , the scene was extraordinary. "All over the pitch lay portions of the goalposts, netting and barriers, while at the exits and entrances the charred woodwork and twisted turnstiles showed that the fire brigade had not come too soon," reported the Glasgow Herald.

The inquest came quickly. On the Monday after the final, members of the Scottish Football Association strode into the offices at 6 Carlton Place, Glasgow, for an emergency meeting.

That day's newspapers had expressed outrage. The Glasgow Herald would state: "Saturday was a black day in the history of football in Glasgow. The riot pales into insignificance every other happening, here and elsewhere on the football field. To equal it one must go back to the days of the Bread Riots in 1848."

The inquiry made little progress as to the cause. Both James Hay, the Celtic captain, and James Stark, his Rangers counterpart, said they had no instructions from their officials as to the playing of extra time.

The SFA, though, had to decide on the playing for the Scottish Cup. The Old Firm stood together. A joint statement for the clubs said: "Although it was mooted during the week that extra time might be played in the event of a draw, it was found that the cup competition rules prevented this. On account of the regrettable occurrences of Saturday, both clubs agree to petition the association that the final tie be abandoned."

There was proposal made to replay the tie outside Glasgow but both clubs were adamant. One side would scratch rather than play another game.

The SFA came to a decision. The statement read: "To mark the association's disapproval of the riotous conduct of a section of the supporters at Hampden Park, and to avoid a repetition, the cup competition for this season be finished and the cup and medals withheld."

The association gave Queen's Park £500 towards repairs to the stadium and ordered the two clubs to pay £150 as a penalty.

The Old Firm settled that account.