The summer of 1967 will be fondly remembered by the sporting fraternity of Scotland for three specific reasons.

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  • Celtic, with a magnificant display won the European Cup in Lisbon, the first club in the UK to do so.
  • Rangers were narrowly defeated in the Cup Winners Cup Final by Bayern Munich,  1-0 aet.
  • Foinavon romped home to victory at Aintree in the Grand National

The Demise

Sadly there are no fond memories for Third Lanark fans of that era.  They were shattered to witness the Cathkin gates being closed for the final time on 30th June 1967.  this followed and exhaustive examination by the Borad of Trade into the club's affairs, as a consequence of a series of discrepencies being revealed during the previous months.  A total debt of £40,000 sealed their fate.

Thirds' fans were stunned.  Emotions ran from anger, through frustration to disbelief, before suddenly realising that come the new season, Saturdays would be quite different.  Over a period of 95 years the club had contributed massively to the Scottish Football scene.  They had won every possible domestic honour, being the First Division champions in 1903/04, before topping the Second Division, twice, in 1930/31 and 1934/35.  The Scottish Cup was won in 1889 and 1905 and even with Glasgow's big two, Rangers and Celtic, always in contention Thirds' grabbed the Glasgow Cup four times and even topped that with six Charity Cup successes.

In August 1996 I invited two Cathkin legends to launch my History on the Club - Still Seeing Red.  Both the late great Ally McLeod and former player Dave Hilley captivated the large group of ex-players and fans with recolllections of their life and times at Cathkin.  Hilley's own description of Thirds was spot on when he said, "Thirds simply were a wonderful football club, perhaps not winning too many trophies, but over many years they provided their tens of thousands of fans with endless happy memories, , loads of honest commitment and wonderful entertainment".

The inquest into Thirds' demise moved swiftly and the Board of Trade investigators laid the blame for it on the shoulders of Chairman and Director Bill Hiddleston.  He had been a Board member for a short spell in the mid fifties, before being forced to resign. In 1962 his re-emergence on the Board led to almost instant dramatic changes within the club.  Three directors, and manager George Young resigned and within months bedlam reigned.  Boardroom squabbles ended with the selling of top scoring stars, Dave Hilley, Alex Harley and Matt Gray for a reported joint fee of £78,000 which left the squad of players decimated and resulted in the club grabbing the banner headlines in the tabloids, for all the wrong reasons.

To be continued… (15 May 2012).

© Alan Bell 2012