Ever heard the story about the Glasgow established soccer club that ran into financial calamity and went bankrupt?
The club who were based in the city’s south side were founded in 1872 by the 3rd Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers after the soldiers were inspired to create their own team by the first-ever international game between Scotland and England in Hamilton Crescent, Glasgow.
Following a thirty-year association with the military there was a name change to Third Lanark Athletic Club at 1903 when the team was in the peak of their forces. Their relation to the Lanarkshire Rifles gave rise to nicknames The Redcoats and The Warriors and they also acquired their unusual moniker of The Hello Hi.
Having already won the Scottish Cup in 1889 and been runners-up on two other occasions, they repeated the feat in 1905 when beating Rangers facing a gigantic Hampden Park crowd. Just twelve months earlier The Hi Hi celebrated their best success when they were crowned champions for the only time in an era dominated, and then like now, by their more illustrious neighbours from Ibrox and Celtic Park.
From these heady days of 1904 until their final demise in 1967, Third Lanark’s house was Cathkin Park that was actually the site of the next Hampden Park before Queen’s Park sold up and moved on accepting the Hampden name together only down the path to Mount Florida.
Sadly for Your Thirds, their time at the top table of the Scottish game fitting the likes of Celtic, Rangers and Hearts didn’t last. And although they would never again to win any major silverware, they are still among just 11 teams to have ever won the Scottish tournament, something noted in the last wisergamblers.com update.
Fast forward to the 1960’s and Third Lanark’s downfall. The decade had begun in excellent fashion for followers of this Redcoats, once the end of the 1960-61 season brought a third-place end in the upper branch and a thrilling 100 goal haul.
However, a mere four years after this great achievement the club had been relegated off the rear of only three wins annually.
Life in the old Second Division proved to be no less hard and as attendances dwindled in the thousands of the early 60’s to some paltry but faithful few hundred, the situation was bleak to say the least. They waved farewell to Cathkin Park with a 3-3 draw with Queen Of The South and played with their final league fixture in Boghead Park, the home of Dumbarton. There would be no glorious end since they were trounced 5-1.
Matters the pitch off were in an even more terminal position. Boardroom turmoil ensued along with the resultant Board Of Trade enquiry announced the club bankrupt. The identical enquiry confirmed what many had feared and that financial shenanigans on the part of the Chairman and directors were to blame for the death of such a joyful and historically rich football club.
The impropriety of the club’s former board members remains the stuff of debate and rumour amongst those associated with Third Lanark but many consider the sale and redevelopment of the Cathkin Park house were the reasons for its expansive scale corruption.
Sadly, because the decline was long before, and without sufficient attention, there would be no consortium, benefactor or white knight to rescue The Thirds. No lifeline in the Scottish footballing authorities. It appears the desire or potential just was not there, which is in stark contrast to events that have affected Rangers within the last 18 months. Third Lanark wouldn’t be saved. They had been dead. Gone. Consigned to history.
Well, not in the memory of a few. The determined couple who were not ready to give up about the club that they adored. Even with a gap of over 40 decades, The Warriors march again. The cries of”Hi Hi Hi” come back from bygone days to inspire a new generation and a new club bearing the famed Third Lanark name.
In 2007, after many failed efforts to reestablish the club in a variety of guises, there came a rebirth of sorts. An amateur club beneath the Third Lanark banner are once more taking to the playing fields of Glasgow and beyond.
But what are the aims and aspirations for this reincarnation? In 2008, after Gretna withdrew from the Football League, a surprise media release stated that Third Lanark, amongst several others, were interested in replacing them. Considering that the other contenders to fill this vacancy were already well-established clubs such as Annan Athletic, Cove Rangers and also Spartans then the statement of intent in the brand new club was certainly a daring one.
Ultimately, no membership application was made into the SFL. Rather, the creation of a brand new first-team competing in the Greater Glasgow Amateur League along with also an Under-17 facet with the aim of developing children capable to grow the club and boost their general standing.
Although the reborn Third Lanark have yet to realise that a return to league standing, they have been in a position to match their dream of playing at Cathkin Park.
The scene as it was has long since gone but the stays of the terracing and conquer obstacles peek out from behind the trees because a resonant reminder of this park’s most glorious past. Following the club’s closed in 1967 the website fell into disrepair and is now owned and maintained by Glasgow council. The pitch itself has been used for local amateur sides for many years, but it was the recurrence of a side at the famous red tops of Third Lanark that gave the new and old creation involved with The Hi Hi sense of gratification improbable felt by any other Cathkin Park users. So what of this new club and its prospects for the future? They could possibly be living again but can they actually return to the positions of league football and will they find a house suitable to facilitate this type of status?
Considering their current location, the probability of finding themselves in the SFL anytime soon is miniscule. Unless a generous benefactor steps in to provide them a leg up afterward a new stadium can not happen, particularly as Cathkin Park is out of the question as a result of the civil use.
And then they face the task of having to grow throughout the Scottish system which is time-consuming and convoluted, and even when they could confound all the chances and get to press their noses against the glass of the SFL, the nearly perpetual chaos in the game could be the insurmountable barrier. For now, just to be alive and functioning again is a huge achievement for a team that went belly up around the time the Beatles introduced the Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band album.
If Third Lanark reach the Scottish top flight it would be the greatest comeback since Lazarus.