Recreational and sports amenities in Glasgow
As a city with one of the worst health records in Europe, the city council in Glasgow is keen to encourage and assist its citizens in participating in sports and physically active recreations. Under the Glasgow Club - health and fitness scheme - there are 18 municipal sports and fitness centres, as well as numerous sports playing fields. No doubt the city council hopes that having won the bid to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games its citizens will be further motivated to engage in a sporting activity. Needless to say, being in Scotland within 10 miles of Glasgow city centre there are 13 municipal golf courses.
Glasgow has four teams playing in the national Scottish FA leagues, three of which are professional and one is an amateur club. Known as the ‘Old Firm’ Glasgow Rangers and Celtic are the two dominant forces in Scottish football, they both play in the Scottish Premiership league. Not many seasons go by when one or the other isn’t champions of this top flight league. At present Celtic FC, or more correctly Glasgow Celtic FC, have a slight upper hand on their rivals. Established in 1887 they have played at their Celtic Park ground, to the east of the city centre, since 1892. Celtic Park currently has the largest capacity of all football grounds in Scotland. They are the only Scottish team, also one of only five British teams, to win the coveted European Cup in 1967, an achievement largely attributed to their legendary manager - Jock Stein. Glasgow Rangers FC played their first game in 1872, making them one of the oldest football teams in Scotland. Their ground, the Ibrox Stadium, is in Govan to the south west of the city centre. The list of former managers and players who have represented this club is, quite simply, enormous. However, at his peak Jim Baxter was, by all accounts; one of the truly great Scottish, British and World players of the game. Partick Thistle FC play in the Scottish Football League Championship Division I at their Firhill stadium to the north of the city centre. The club has a loyal following of supporters who are very patient with it, as achievements have been few and far between. Playing at the national football stadium of Hampden Park is an amateur club, Queens Park FC , who currently play in the Scottish Football League Championship Division II. Established as an amateur club in 1867 they are one of the few teams in the world playing in a national league yet retaining their amateur status. Whilst today the stadium is restricted to a 52,000 capacity, it is the ground that holds the record attendance for a European football match - 149,547 in 1937 when Scotland played England. Ironically most home league games are now watched by only a few hundred spectators.
The senior rugby union team in the city is Glasgow Warriors RUFC, who play in the Celtic (Mangers) League at the Firhill Arena. ‘Warriors’ are one of only two Scottish teams playing in this league, which includes top clubs from Wales and Ireland. Below them are the Glasgow Hawks, who play in the Scottish Premiership Division I and Cartha Queens Park, who play in Division II. Scotland has several thriving cricket clubs, most notably in Glasgow are the Glasgow Academicals CC, or the 'Accies' as they prefer to be known. The 'Accies' also run men’s and women’s hockey teams, one of the few clubs outside of the universities to do so. Glasgow is home to one of the most successful tennis clubss in Scotland. The Newlands Lawn Tennis Club has both outdoor, floodlit and indoor courts. Scottish Rocks are a Glasgow based basketball team. They play in the top flight British Basketball League at their home in the Braehead Arena and in 2007 they were in the play-off for the league title. Riding in the Premier League, one level below the top flight Elite league, the Glasgow Tigers are one of the few speedway teams in Scotland. The ‘Tigers’ race at the Ashfield stadium, Possilpark.
Perhaps surprisingly Glasgow is unable to support an Ice Hockey team capable of playing in either the major UK or Scottish leagues. The ice rink in Glasgow is at the Braehead shopping complex to the west of the city centre. As well as being used for recreational skating it has eight curling sheets that are used by some 80 Curling Clubs in Glasgow, who compete for a variety of local and national trophies. At Bellahouston Park on Drumbreck Road there is an outdoor and floodlit dry-ski centre, where you can learn and practice your skiing and snow-boarding techniques.
The Glasgow Club is an innovation from the city council to engage citizens in a more active lifestyle to try and help ease the city’s chronic health issues. Many of the fitness activities are geared towards encouraging people to participate in the annual Glasgow half marathon and 10km fun runs. Several of the 18 municipal sports and fitness centres have swimming pools. The one at Tollcross is a full sized 50m one which the City of Glasgow Swimming Club uses for training and competitions, as well as the pool at Scotstoun.