The Ghost Stadium

It was the original Hampden Park, one of the early cathedrals of football. Thousands crammed in there for matches from the late nineteenth century until the 1960s. It was Queens Park’s stadium in its early days, and even hosted an Scotland vs England International in the 1890s. And yet now it slowly decays, half-forgotten in a Glasgow park.

Cathkin Park

In 1903, Queens Park moved to the current Hampden Park, and our ghost stadium was renamed Cathkin Park. Third Lanark FC began to play there, an often successful team until their sudden demise in 1967.

Cathkin Park

In their first season playing at Cathkin Park, Third Lanark won the Scottish First Division, followed by a Scottish F.A. Cup victory two years later. They would also win Division Two twice, and took home the Glasgow Cup four times.

Cathkin Park terracing

Their demise in 1967 was a shock. It came only seven years after one of their best seasons, third place in the First Division with 100 goals scored. Their fall from grace was sudden, a disastrous relegation leading to financial chaos and liquidation. Finally the team accepted its closure with the announcement: “The former glory chants of Hi Hi Hi became only memories, as the club had died of shame.”

Broken terracing

Since then, the previously grand surroundings have slowly rotted, but the pitch is still used for football: It’s now the home of a new Third Lanark team, who play in the Greater Glasgow Amateur League.

Cathkin Park field

The terracing on one side still stands there, ghosts of supporters past perhaps appearing late at night, when the park is closed.

Cathkin Park

Photo credits: Degsy, monkeyiron, cumbo, arsemagic, all on Flickr.

The first two photos are used by permission from a super blog post on the ground by the 100 Grounds Club blog. Fore more information on Third Lanark FC, see this excellent historical overview.

22 thoughts on “The Ghost Stadium

  1. Em

    Wow, I just finished reading about Hampden Park in The Ball is Round. I love how the ground is now nestled amongst trees and overrun with moss and weeds — a return to wilderness, to the primitive roots of the game?

  2. historyman

    I think it’s wonderful that the memory of the club and its ground are being kept alive for the benefit of today’s generation of football fans. A partial antidote to the Premiership and the global football circus.

    I enjoyed reading a bit more about their history on the link provided. That tour to Argentina in 1923 must have been an incredible experience for those players involved, most of whom had probably never travelled out of Scotland before!

  3. Micah

    Good article. It’s good that something like this is still around. Even in it’s current state it’s a great relic of sporting past.

  4. Sam Kelly

    Fascinating pictures. I’d heard about the stadium and it’s probably the only thing that makes me want to visit Glasgow one day. Hauntingly beautiful photos.

    The Third Lanark history site is interesting too although it must be said that their claim of being ‘the first football missionaries to visit South America’ is somewhat dubious from an historical point of view. For one thing how do they think the game got there in the first place (who was Charles Miller in Brazil, and who were the British rail and dock workers and teachers on the banks of the Río de la Plata, if not missionaries in this context?), and for another it conveniently ignores the fact that Southampton (1904), Notts Forest (1905), Everton, Spurs (both 1909), Swindon Town (1912) and Exeter City (1914) had all toured Argentina previously, as had the South African national side in 1906 (the 0-1 defeat they suffered to Alumni in the second match of that tour is still remembered today in Argentina as the first Argentine victory over a foreign side).

    Interestingly although the Third Lanark site gives a record of played 8, won 4, drawn 2, lost 2 from that tour, this page of an Argentine sporting history site (which gives a respectable if not exhaustively detailed bibliography at the bottom) only shows 6 matches played; 3 wins, 2 losses and 1 draw, with one fewer scored, and one more conceded, than the Third Lanark site claims.

    Fascinating stuff, though.

  5. Brian

    Wonderful post, Tom. I love the sense in the photos of nature slowly reclaiming the ground. Oddly, even as a sign of neglect, it gives the place an aura of significance that it couldn’t have gotten through scrupulous maintenance. I’m a sucker for ruins, I guess, but it’s really beautiful in any case.

  6. Richard Whittall

    One of the best scenes in that documentary “A History of Football” features the Torino team in the forties that crashed on a mountain top in Italy, killing ten out of the eleven first team players and wiping out one of the best clubs in Italy of that era. Ghostly shots of an abandoned, neglected pitch in Italy similar to this one drive home the message that Torino would never be the same again…

  7. iLl Man

    Hi Tom! Good to see an article on Thirds, and thanks for the link…… I wrote that ages ago, but I re-visited the topic last year on another blog called ‘The Amazing One Man Brake Club’. I also took shots from the 40th anniversary game between the new Third Lanark amateur team and Queens Park U21′s, a thrilling match that ended 4-3 to Thirds.

    Article –

    Photos –

    Theres also this excellent short film on Youtube which does give a brief glimpse of the ground during a match.


  8. insideleft

    Well, senior football might well be returning to Cathkin Park; Third Lanark have spoken to the SFL with regard to the vacancy left by Gretna’s demise. The irony is fabulous: a bankrupt club replaced by a club that also went bankrupt.

  9. fredorrarci

    How likely is a successful application, though? Speaking as a novice on the Scottish lower leagues, it would seem odd if they do make it at the expense of the likes of Spartans or Cove Rangers, no?

    Still, it would be interesting to see, given Aldershot’s promotion, and possibly Accrington’s before too long. Soon it’ll be Bradford Park Avenue, Southport and Gateshead, with Queen’s Park back in the FA Cup final…

  10. insideleft

    Ah, they’ve no chance. Much as though I’d love to see the name Third Lanark .v. Queens Park as a regular fixture, it wont happen, and letting the team in would make the league look even worse than it does following the whole Gretna debacle.

    Spartans or Preston, one of those two I reckon. We’ll find out on Thursday :-)

  11. Ralph

    How do you mean possibly Accrington – the latest incarnation of Stanley have been back for 2 years

  12. Mark Harrison interested in 3rd lanark – Cathkin Park some info below please check out the website for more info……………………..

    Third Lanark Athletic are an interesting option, one that could be very rewarding and capable of receiving mass worldwide exposure, but it could also be a very expensive and time consuming one at the same time.

    Many of you are probably aware of the Third Lanark Athletic story, those who aren’t should take a minute or two to head over to wikipedia and do a quick bit of reading. The Third Lanark story is one of joy, success and ultimate betrayal. Formed in 1872, five years after Queen’s Park, sixteen years before Glasgow Celtic and the same year as Glasgow Rangers, Third Lanark Athletic, with 2 Scottish Cup wins and a First Division title to their name, disappeared from the Scottish senior football scene in 1967. The story is all the more remarkable when you consider that they were 3rd in the top league in 1960/01, scoring over 100 goals, and their record defeat is only 8 – 0.

    Cathkin Park, a former location of Hampden Park, was and is again the home of Third Lanark Athletic. The “Hi Hi” of today are an amateur side playing in the Glasgow amateur leagues. They hold aspirations of redeveloping Cathkin Park and making their way into the junior ranks. The task of refurbishing Cathkin Park could be a long one and, in the short term, our task, should we take the option, would be more about that than actually running the team. Talks have been ongoing between the club and Glasgow Council, with the Scottish Junior FA entry requirements stating the park must be fully enclosed, with a barrier round the pitch and adequate changing and washing facilities.

  13. Kareoke Bob

    As a wee lad growing up in Glasgow, I would go across to Cathkin Park to watch Third Lanark FC play. Third Lanarkshire Regiment being the origins of that club. Wonderful memories inspired by your article.

  14. Graeme Niven

    Great article, I can remember them as a kid growing up in Aberdeen.
    I now run a kilt shop in Phoenix Arizona and had a visit from a great elderly gentleman called Charlie Garvin who told me that he played for Third Lanark years ago,
    He was a great guy who was full of memories.
    Can anyone recall watching him play ??

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