Third Lanark Athletic Club was a Scottish football team that existed from 1872 to 1967 and were based in Glasgow.
Originally one of the great clubs of early Scottish Football, Third Lanark were far from being the first major Scottish football club to be declared bankrupt and dissolved (former Scottish Cup winners Renton & their neighbours Vale Of Leven suffered similar fates - although the latter were resurrected as a Junior side later). But their demise was considered a shock due to the fact only a few years earlier they had finished third in the championship division, scoring over 100 goals in the process. Thus the death of Third Lanark has become the standard cautionary tale in world football of the danger to any club whose ground is on land ideally located for development by unscrupulous businessmen.
Third Lanark started as the football team for the Third Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers. Known as 3rd LRV the name was changed to Third Lanark A.C. when the official links with the military were severed. The club was a founder member of the Scottish Football League. They had also won the league championship in 1904, as well as winning the Scottish Cup in 1889 and 1905 and the Glasgow Cup in 1903, 1904, 1909 and 1963.
Third Lanark were known as Thirds, the Warriors, the Redcoats or the Hi-Hi (the latter owing to the "Hi Hi Hi!" chant from their fans).
Third Lanark played at Cathkin Park. This was previously known as Hampden Park (the second of three grounds to bear this name) before Queen's Park sold it to Third Lanark and moved to a new stadium of the same name. Cathkin Park is currently owned by Glasgow City Council, and remains of the terracing can still be seen.
The club was declared bankrupt after a Board Of Trade enquiry and was liquidated in 1967. Boardroom corruption allegedly played a role in this; the role of the chairman of Thirds, Bill Hiddleston, remains subject to intense debate: he may have wished to personally profit from the sale of Cathkin Park for property development (Cathkin was sold for housing during the 1967 close season, but Glasgow City Council refused building permission).
On the other hand he did build the club a new stand in 1963 - hardly in keeping with someone interested in running the club to a fold - and another allegation was that Hiddleston wanted to force the club to move to either Cumbernauld or East Kilbride, the booming "New Towns" within the Glasgow commuter belt which at that time had no Senior side of their own.
(This is certainly plausible as Scottish football was awash with all manner of crackpot schemes from club chairman at this time: eg. the "East Stirlingshire Clydebank" fiasco a few years before when the Steedman brothers attempted to "move" East Stirlingshire FC from Falkirk to Clydebank by buying out a local non-league team - the "merger" lasted one season before the courts dissolved it - and the "Strathclyde Academicals" attempt to merge Clyde FC with Hamilton Academicals).
What was certainly the case was that the club was now in the hands of one man & his toadies, none of whom were up to the task of running a professional football club. This was evidence from the damning report by The Board Of Trade into Third Lanark's activities in 1967: players were paid tardily & often in silver, they had to make their own way to away matches, hot water was not available after matches; and every facet of the club's management was from a personal appointment by Hiddleston. In short, there was a wave of disincentive for anyone to remain working for or even being a shareholder of the club if they were not part of Hiddleston's clique, and to whatever plans they had for the Hi-Hi.
The last day of season 1960/61 saw Third Lanark reach an historic landmark. They beat Hibernian 6-1 at Cathkin Park to reach a commendable 100 goals for the season, and their win secured an honourable third place in the most competitive First Division league table. The 'scarlet' goalscoring machine of Goodfellow, Hilley, Harley, Gray and McInnes had done it again.
Only a short four years later the club's ultimate agony began. One dismal chapter of events followed another, until season 1965/66 found Thirds kicking off in the Second Division, having been relegated as a consequence of their most disastrous season ever, bringing the club only three wins from 34 matches in the league.
There followed yet another two seasons of mediocrity and discontent, ending in the humiliating defeat at Boghead Park when Dumbarton recorded a 5-1 score line, on Friday, 28th April 1967 (the final Thirds goal was scored by future Airdrie and Hearts star Drew Busby). This game ended the football involvement of Thirds, as a senior professional club.
The following months 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. Shortly after this move the dreaded announcement was made.