Third Lanark A.C.

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Third Lanark AFC
Full name Third Lanark Athletic Club
Nickname(s) Thirds
The Warriors
The Redcoats
The Hi-Hi
Founded 1872, 1996 (refounded)
Dissolved 1967
Ground Cathkin Park, Glasgow
New Cathkin Park, Glasgow
League Greater Glasgow Premier AFL Division 3

Third Lanark Athletic Club was a professional football club based in Glasgow, Scotland. Founded in 1872 as an offshoot of the 3rd Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers, they were founder members of the Scottish Football Association (SFA) in 1872 and the Scottish Football League (SFL) in 1890. They played in the top division of the SFL for the majority of their existence, and were league champions in 1903-04. They also won the Scottish Cup twice, in 1889 and 1905. Third Lanark went out of business in 1967 as a result of mismanagement, six years after having finished in third place in the SFL. Their former ground, Cathkin Park in Crosshill, is still partially standing and used for minor football. An amateur football club called Third Lanark was founded in 1996, with intentions of restoring the club name to senior football and returning to play regularly at Cathkin Park.



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

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,[1] 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.[2]

The club was a founder member of the Scottish Football League, in 1890. The name was changed to Third Lanark AC in 1903, when official links with the military were severed.[3] The club won the Scottish League championship in 1903–04, as well as the Scottish Cup in 1889 and 1905 and the Glasgow Cup in 1903, 1904, 1909 and 1963.[4]


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. The following season saw Thirds take part in European competition for the first and only time when they faced Rouen of France home and away in the Anglo-Franco-Scottish Friendship Cup. Rouen won 4–0 at Cathkin on 7 November 1961 and 2–1 in France on 9 May 1962.

Third Lanark won their final senior trophy - the Glasgow Cup - on April 8 1963, beating Celtic 2-1 in the final at Hampden Park.

Only four years after that successful 1960–61 season, the club's decline 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 Saturday 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 Tuesday 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 goal for Queens and Brian McMurdo two in the second half, including the last ever senior football goal at the Park (the Thirds goals came from Kinnaird with two goals and McLaughlan with the other; Thirds had ended the first half 3-1 up). The final attendance at Cathkin Park was given as just 325 spectators.[5]

The final Thirds game was a humiliating defeat at Boghead Park when Dumbarton recorded a 5–1 score line, on Friday 28 April 1967 in front of 581 spectators (the final Thirds goal was scored by future Airdrie and Hearts star Drew Busby). The Dumbarton goals came from Ally McMillan (2), Harry Kirk (2) and Roy McCormack. The Thirds line-up in that final game at Boghead was: Bob Russell; Tony Connell and Gerry Heaney; Hugh McLaughlan, Jim Little and Gordon McEwan; Hugh Rundell, Bobby Craig, Drew Busby, Don May and John Kinnaird. Thirds' last manager was former Rangers captain Bobby Shearer.

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.

After liquidation[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.[4]

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 2 in 2011. This team was 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. This team went amateur for 2 seasons.

Third Lanark AFC have 1 Amateur team who have now moved to the Greater Glasgow Premier AFL after 3 season in the West of Scotland Amateur Football League. They are managed by David Ampleford who is assisted by Willie Milligan and Neil Gillon. The team are playing their home games at Fullarton Park, home of Vale of Clyde F.C.

Campbell Hughes heads up the Youth Academy.


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.[10] 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.


Third Lanark played at the original Cathkin Park from their foundation until 1903. In 1903 they took over Queen's Park's Hampden Park ground, renaming it New Cathkin Park, whilst Queen's Park moved to a new Hampden Park 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.[10]

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.[4]


Some notable Scottish football figures managed Third Lanark:[11]



  1. ^ Litster 2010, p. 4
  2. ^ Litster 2010, p. 6
  3. ^ Brown, Alan; Tossani, Gabriele (14 April 2016). "Scotland – International Matches 1901–1910". RSSSF. Retrieved 30 September 2016. The name of the Scottish club 3rd Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers was changed to Third Lanark AC in June 1903, when official links with the military were severed. 
  4. ^ a b c Litster 2010, p. 3
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ [2] Greater Glasgow Amateur League members
  7. ^ [3] 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. ^ a b
  11. ^ Third Lanark managers
  12. ^ 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. 

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