Thursday, March 18, 2010

Home sweet home

Interesting article on The Guardian blog by Gregg Roughley. Apparently back in 1971 Manchester United were forced to play a "home" game at Anfield after crowd trouble at Old Trafford. They beat Arsenal 3-1 in a game that seems to have been wiped from the collective memory of the players. Even Bobby Charlton, who scored, doesn't mention it in his otherwise fairly exhaustive autobiography.

The article's well worth a read, along with the comments thread, for the way it exposes how the rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester United, at its current intensity, is a fairly modern conceit borne from changing fortunes, Alex Ferguson's "fucking perch" comment and Sky's need for a million compelling narratives each season.

Anyway it got me thinking to ground sharing or temporary swapping in Scotland. Obviously we've had Celtic at Hampden, Gretna at Fir Park and Inverness at Pittodrie. In one off games we've seen Hearts play in Europe at Hampden and Raith take on Bayern Munich at Easter Road, a ground that's also acted as home to South Korea.

The favourite one I've found is Firhill hosting Sweden's Djurgardens in a European Cup quarter final against Hibs. The Swedish league had shut down for winter and so Partick Thistle's floodlights illuminated a little bit of history in the inaugural European Cup.

(Actually that's a lie: my favourite ever was when Melchester Rovers had to play at Wembley as Mel Park recovered from the fabled earthquake.)

Clearly Rangers and Celtic will have swapped "homes" for semis and finals when Hampden was out of commission and Hearts and Hibs, Dundee and Dundee United have also played semis on the other side of town.

But have any of Scotland's bitter rivals ever had to play home league games at the home of the other? And what other strange "home" ties have Scottish ground's hosted? If anyone has any ideas let me know. It will interest me, even if nobody else you've ever told has seemed remotely bothered.

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