The 12th of December marks 150 years since the genesis of Third Lanark FC, one of the founding members of the Scottish Football Association and the Scottish Football League.
For many Scottish football fans, 1967 is considered to be one of the golden ages of Scottish football history. Not least did Scotland beat England at Wembley, but many individual clubs found national and international success in the summer of 1967. While many fans up and down the country celebrated their triumphs, the loyal supporters of Third Lanark were about to face a miserable downfall.
Despite financial issues and legal battles hanging over the club for some time, comradery among the Hi-Hi faithful remained strong. However, doubts about the future of the club were confirmed with a court order to cease dealings on July 7th, 1967. This decision shocked both the manager and the chairman of Third Lanark, who believed they might still restore the club to it’s former stability. The total demise of one of Scotland’s oldest professional teams and the third best in Scotland at that time stunned the Scottish football community, serving as a stark reminder that success on the pitch and outstanding fan support amounted to nothing if the off-pitch management failed to deliver.
Nonetheless, the Scottish Football League ploughed on with 19 teams instead of its usual 20. While those remaining teams have grown, changed, and developed over the decades, Third Lanark has stayed trapped in history forever. No place captures this better than the club’s former grounds, Cathkin Park. Nestled in the residential Southside of Glasgow, this shady public park is still home to the former stands and turnstiles of Third Lanark’s grounds that have refused to budge over the years.
In The Ghosts of Cathkin Park, Michael McEwan documents the story of the Third Lanark’s unfortunate and preventable demise, as well later attempts to restore the club. His book brings together rich archival research and interviews with the key surviving players in the Third Lanark squad, as well as opposition players and other relevant figures from the era.
The story of Third Lanark’s untimely closure has captured the imaginations of other writers, but no book has uncovered the truth about that fateful year and brought the intricacies of the club’s demise into focus as Michael McEwan has in this publication. 150 years on from its foundation, McEwan’s book serves as a cautionary tale for all football clubs today, which like any business at the hands of poor management, exists close to the threat of peril.
The Ghosts of Cathkin Park is an essential addition to any football fan’s library. Get yours in time for Christmas here.