Third Lanark A.C.

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Third Lanark A.C.
Third Lanark display the Scottish Cup that the club won in 1889
Full name Third Lanark Athletic Club
Nickname(s) Thirds
The Warriors
The Redcoats
The Hi-Hi
Founded 1872
Dissolved 1967
Ground Cathkin Park
Ground Capacity 50,000 [1]

Third Lanark Athletic Club was a football club that existed for 95 years between 1872 and 1967, in Glasgow, Scotland. Third Lanark was known as Thirds, the Warriors, the Redcoats and the Hi Hi. The last nickname was rumoured to have started during a match in the late 1890s, when a defender kicked the ball so high out of the ground that the crowd started screaming "High High High" and that nickname stayed with the club ever since. The fans invariably started to sing "Hi Hi Hi!" as a battle cry to encourage the team to victory during the club's matches.[2] There was a public house called The Hi Hi Bar at the southern end of Crown Street in the Gorbals area of Glasgow, about one mile from the club's Cathkin Park stadium, until the late 1960s, after Third Lanark's demise.

One of the more successful clubs in early Scottish Football, Third Lanark was not the first major club to be compulsorily liquidated and dissolved. Former Scottish Cup winners Renton and near neighbours Vale of Leven suffered similar fates, although Vale of Leven was resurrected as a Junior side later on.

Third Lanark's demise was considered more remarkable as the club had finished third in Scotland's top division behind Rangers and Kilmarnock only six years before it folded, in the 1960–61 season, scoring 100 goals in the process.



Third Lanark started as the football team of the Third Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers, part of the Volunteer Force. Known as 3rd LRV.

The team was formally founded on 12 December 1872 at a meeting of the Third Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers in the Regimental Orderly Room in Howard Street, Glasgow. The soldiers, inspired by the first ever international friendly which had taken place two weeks previously, decided to form their own team. Several of the Scotland team in that match, made up solely of Queen's Park players, had been part of the regiment: including Billy Dickson, Billy MacKinnon and Joseph Taylor. The club was constituted with eight rules:

  • Rule I - That this club be called the 3rd L.R.V Football Club.
  • Rule II - That the annual subscription be two shillings and sixpence per member.
  • Rule III - That the office-bearers consist of one Honorary President, Two Honorary Vice-Presidents, a President, a Vice President, a Treasurer, a Secretary, a Captain, and eight members of committee, five to form a quorum.
  • Rule IV - That the office-bearers be elected at the Annual General Meeting, retiring office bearers being eligible for re-election.
  • Rule V - That Members of the Regiment only be admitted to the Club.
  • Rule VI - That the club play according to the rules of the Football Association, and also that it join the Association.
  • Rules VII - That the Annual General Meeting be held on the first Thursday of March.
  • Rule VIII - That any alteration in the above laws or constitution of this Club can only be made at the Annual General Meeting ; and notice thereof must be given to the Secretary in writing on or before the fifteenth of February previous.

A later meeting decided that the playing kit should be: A cowl - one end blue, the other yellow, a scarlet guernsey. Blue trousers or knickerbockers with blue stockings. It was later decided that all guernseys should have the number three on them,[3] and in the first AGM in March 1873 the constitution was amended to allow members of Queen's Park to become office bearers of Thirds. The players used an old drill field on Victoria Road to train.[4]

The name was changed to Third Lanark AC in 1903, when official links with the military were severed. The club was a founder member of the Scottish Football League. The club had also won the Scottish League Championship in 1903-04, as well as winning the Scottish Cup in 1889 and 1905 and the Glasgow Cup in 1903, 1904, 1909 and 1963.[5]

Third Lanark played at three locations: Victoria Park, in Scotstoun in the West of Glasgow, from 1872 to 1875; the first Cathkin Park from 1875 to 1904; and New Cathkin Park from 1904 to 1967. New Cathkin Park was actually the first Hampden Park, before Queen's Park sold it to Third Lanark and moved to a new stadium of the same name in Mount Florida. New Cathkin Park is currently owned by Glasgow City Council, and large areas of the terracing remain intact on three sides of the ground. [2]


The last day of the 1960–61 season saw Third Lanark reach a historic landmark. The club beat Hibernian 6–1 at Cathkin Park to reach 100 goals for the season, and the win secured third place in Scotland's top division.

Only four years after this success, the club's terminal agony began. The 1965–66 season found Thirds kicking-off in the Second Division, having been relegated as a consequence of the club's most unsuccessful season ever, with only three wins from 34 matches in the league.

There followed another two seasons of mediocrity and discontent. Third Lanark recorded their lowest-ever home League attendance of 297 spectators on 15 April 1967 (on the same day as the England-Scotland international at Wembley) for the visit of Clydebank. Third Lanark won 1-0; it would be their final competitive victory. The last Third Lanark home game was against Queen of the South and was played at Cathkin Park on 25 April 1967. It ended in a 3-3 draw and was the second-last fixture that Third Lanark played in the old Second Division. Jimmy Davidson scored one for Queens and Brian McMurdo two, including the last ever goal at the Park (the Thirds goals came from Kinnaird with two goals and McLaughlan with the other). The final Thirds game was a humiliating defeat at Boghead Park when Dumbarton recorded a 5–1 score line, on 28 April 1967 (the final Thirds goal was scored by future Airdrie and Hearts star Drew Busby). This game ended Third Lanark's participation in senior football in Scotland.

In their final season of existence, in Division Two of the Scottish Football League, Third Lanark had played 38 League games, winning 34 points out of a possible 76. They won 13 games, drew 8 and lost the remaining 17; they scored 67 goals and conceded 78. Their final league position was eleventh out of twenty clubs.

The months following the final game at Boghead Park brought a Board of Trade investigation, revealing constant player squabbles and bitter internal struggles for power. These events finally took their toll, and eventually a liquidator was appointed.

The club was declared bankrupt after the Board of Trade enquiry and was liquidated in 1967. It was alleged that boardroom corruption played a role in this outcome. On 1 July 1968 four former directors of Third Lanark were found guilty of contravening the Companies Act 1948 and fined £100 each. The investigation by the Board of Trade accused club chairman Bill Hiddleston of blatant corruption and found that "the circumstances (merited) police inquiry". Hiddleston died of a heart attack in Blackpool in November 1967.

The role of chairman Hiddleston in the club's liquidation was, and remains, the subject of debate among those close to Third Lanark. He may have wished to profit personally from the sale of Cathkin Park for property development. Cathkin Park was sold for housing during the 1967 close season, but Glasgow City Council refused planning permission. On the other hand, he built a new grandstand for the club in 1963, an unlikely thing to do if Hiddleston intended to put the club out of business. Another allegation was that Hiddleston wanted to force the club to move to either Cumbernauld or East Kilbride, the then booming New Towns in the Glasgow commuter belt, which at that time had no senior sides of their own.

The report by the Board of Trade into Third Lanark's activities in 1967 found that players were paid late and often in coins rather than notes; they had to make their own way to away matches; hot water was not available after matches; and every appointment in the club's management was made personally by Hiddleston. This may have been a disincentive for anyone who was not close to Hiddlestone to remain working for, or remain as a shareholder of, the club.

Dead but dreaming[edit]

After Third Lanark went into liquidation some Third Lanark fans began supporting other local clubs like Queen's Park or Clyde, and others began supporting the Old Firm. The nearby Junior club Pollok also received many new fans. Although most other Scottish teams who went into liquidation were later reformed as amateur sides, there was no such resurrection for Third Lanark for many years. It has been suggested that this was because there was such a prolonged period of downfall for Third Lanark that many fans felt too tired of what had gone on at the club to try to bring it back.[5]

A youth team later adopted the name Third Lanark Athletic (playing at Rosebank Park), as did a ladies' team. Occasionally exhibition matches are staged at Cathkin with a scratch Third Lanark team. Despite claims by others to the rights to the club's name, the owner of the name of the club that went bankrupt, "Third Lanark Athletic Club Ltd", is former Glasgow MP Sir Teddy Taylor. He bought the name from the sequestrators in 1967, when there remained the possibility of the club continuing in another form. Ferranti Thistle considered the idea of using the Third Lanark name upon that club's entry to the Scottish League in 1974, but instead settled for Meadowbank Thistle.

Rebirth as an amateur side[edit]

Third Lanark has returned to its now dilapidated Cathkin Park home, playing in the Greater Glasgow Amateur League.[6]

On 9 June 2008, a four-man delegation from the club made a surprise announcement to the press, stating that Third Lanark AC would be interested in returning to the Scottish Football League, after SPL team Gretna decided to withdraw from the SFL. The other contenders for the vacant league place were Spartans, Cove Rangers, Annan Athletic (selected), Preston Athletic and Edinburgh City.[7] However there was no formal application from Third Lanark to enter the SFL, so the club remained in Division 3 of the Greater Glasgow Amateur League.

In recent times, there have been moves towards reviving the senior club.[8][9]

Third Lanark Athletic Club won the Greater Glasgow Amateur League Division 1 in 2012. This team is managed by Willie Milligan. Thirds have also added another two teams to their ranks: another amateur team in the West of Scotland Amateur League, managed by David Ampleford; and the Under-19s team managed by David Henderson.

Ownership and finances[edit]

Third Lanark was incorporated in 1903. Its initial shareholders were mostly middle-class fans who were wealthy enough to invest in the club. Very few of them were business people or entrepreneurs.[5]


Some notable Scottish football figures managed Third Lanark:[10]



  1. ^
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ Litster 2010, p. 4
  4. ^ Litster 2010, p. 6
  5. ^ a b c Litster 2010, p. 3
  6. ^ [1] Greater Glasgow Amateur League members
  7. ^ [2] Third Lanark express SFL interest
  8. ^ "Thirds get hand from Macron". Scottish Football League. Retrieved 4 November 2011. 
  9. ^ "Third Lanark forgiven by Suppliers". Scottish Football League. Retrieved 18 November 2011. 
  10. ^ Third Lanark managers
  11. ^ Known as second division prior to 1975
  • Litster, John (2010). Third Lanark: Life and Death of the Hi Hi. Programme Monthly. ISBN 978-0-95346-823-2. 

External links[edit]