Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Cathkin Park

Tedious posts on the subject of football. No3 in a series of 3.

I'm starting to feel like Gordon Ottershaw from Riping Yarns. Spent most of Monday afternoon looking for the fabled home of Third Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers Football Club. Third Lanark AFC for short. Their infuriatingly sad demise can be found summarised here.

(A favourite (apocryphal?) terrace sport of the sixties and seventies was urinating on the backs of the legs of the person standing in front of you. This usually took place when the toilets (an El Dorado bottle) were enagaged and you were too drunk to find the stadium latrines. )

I made my way to Mount Florida expecting to spend a few hours going round in circles before going home with nothing in the camera. That was until out of the corner of my eye I spotted something resembling a dilapidated and disused football ground. Within a few minutes I was ankle deep in mulched leaves and looking down a fuck off big wedge of concrete terracing. Hard to believe that tens of thousands of people used to stand in this now ruined and overgrown stadium and watch a really quite successful football team do their thing. It was actually originally called Hampden Park and was the second home of Queens Park FC. It also hosted a Scotland vs England International in the late 1800's. The 'Hi Hi' as Thirds were known (not 100% sure why) moved into the ground in around 1903 when Queens Park moved over the hill to the third and final incarnation of Hampden Park, where they play to this day in tandem with the Scottish national side. The ground was renamed New Cathkin Park.

Cathkin Park is a remnant from an age when major football grounds were breathtaking amphitheatres of deep, curved terraces designed to hold vast amounts of people and not a lot else. Facilities were usually negligable and shelter from the elements was minimal unless you got under the enclosure or you had a main stand seat. You only really see these sorts of stadiums on the continent now, the vast majority of clubs in Britain opting these days for grounds that look at first sight to be made of lego, all tidy right angles and lovely plastic coloured tip up seats.

(My guess is that the sections of terracing overgrown by trees consisted of old style, possibly pre-war gravel and railway sleeper steps. The modernised concrete steps and steel crush barriers seem to have been spared most of the ravages of time and nature. )

Anyway, there I am, wandering around in the fading light and damp air trying to imagine the place packed to the rafters , say season 1960/61 in which the team scored 100 goals and finished third in the league. Instead the derelict surroundings only conjour up images of what the atmosphere at the ground must have been like in 1967, during it's last days, with crowds of a few hundred turning up to watch a doomed team go through the motions.

( Looking towards the site of the now demolished main stand. Park benches fall sorely short of modern day all seated stadium requirements.... Still, I'm sure the SPL will make arrangements.... )

Like the abandoned Blaze pitches I used to play on the place has a ghostly aura, but there are no memories here for me to cast up and make light of the situation. The damp, oppressive weather and the bare trees growing out of the older sections of terracing can only put one in mind of the grounds sad demise rather than it's glory days.


lism. said...

OMGZ I got quoted!

When I was a little girl I was so incredibly passionate about the history of my particular chosen football club. I just to read all the books and pine for those glory days of 115,000 crammed in for a European tie, raising the (probably nonexistent) roof. In my lifetime, stadiums have only ever been like those identikit Lego stands - hell, even at Love Street (at least where I sat as a scoolie). And yet, reading this, I still feel a wave of glorious nostalgia.

lism. said...

Oh, did you see this? http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/glasgow_and_west/6383227.stm

iLL Man said...

Lism, it's an interesting idea. I would imagine that if the club did re-start it would be at amateur or junior level, and probably at a new ground. Theres too much needing done to the old ground. Not to say I don't think money shouldn't be ploughed into restoring the ground to the way it was in the fifties. I know I'm out on a limb here, but it would make an amazing museum piece as well as acting as an occassional sports ground and venue. It is after all just about the last football ground of it's type left in Britain. Anyway, it's all money. Why would the council or the Scottish Executive spend any money at all on such a frivolity?
(Clue: Don't answer that!)

I think it's possible to get a little too misty eyed about these sorts of places, but I do miss being able to stand at football matches. Damn the Taylor Report!!!

Anonymous said...

Heard the area was a bit on the 'ropey' side for a casual visit, especially at weekends and with a camera.

Is this the case?

It's supposedly a well known haunt for using substances and 'meeting people' as has been alleged on another site and that's the reason Glasgow City Council are desperate to to something with it.

I'm very interested to view the remains of the stadium now, it's probably approaching 30 years since my one and only fleeting visit, of which I can rememebr very little and have no pictures as a memory.

Did you meet any trouble when you were there and what time of the week and day did you visit?

iLL Man said...

If you go there mid week, in broad daylight, on a good day, you should have no problems. All you should encounter is the odd dog walker. Still, I wouldn't take along any expensive camera kit. A wee compact should do. They still use it for football occassionally.


This was a match between a 'Third Lanark Amateur Select' and Queens Park U19's. There must have been about 100 people there.

The last time you were there, I'd imagine the main stand might still have been there. Also, the terracing is about half taken up by trees. Still plenty of remnants though.

Whatever GCC do with it, I hope it remains a sporting venue, but fat chance I suppose.........I keep looking at it and thinking "this place would make an awesome speedway venue....."


Anonymous said...

Cathkin Park is so calming, though, don't you think? I work quite nearby and visit often.
Your blog is good and I mostly have enjoyed it, although some of it seems to have been written by mistake as 'beat poetry'. There's no harm in this, but it's not much fun when you read it without being properly prepared.
Your account of red blaisze football pitches and rock solid rubberized size 5's, though: Ouch, yes.As someone else remarked, these pitches are gradually disappearing, and yes, they're not suited to any kind of sport, but I can't concur with the notion that they're the reason we've not won the World Cup yet.Everyone knows it's because Billy Bremner was too drunk when we played Brazil in 1974 to know what to do when the ball fell in front of him, a yard out. Sober, it's a goal, we've beaten the holders 1-0, we've made the 2nd group stage and we've won the World Cup. The profile of The Netherlands, in international football terms, was ours for the taking. I really believe that. I was joking about wee Bremner, though. He was my absolute hero when I was wee. Did you know that at one point, before Argentina 78, Scotland were priced at 8/1 as winners of the World Cup by bookmakers? Seems mental now, didn't then. We were easily as good as that, maybe better. In a warm up match in Buenos Aires in the spring of 78, we drew 2-2 with eventual winners Argentina. Same thing before West Germany 74: We drew 1-1 with Beckenbauer's side in a warm up friendly, and also gave Brazil the game of their lives in 1973 at Hampden Park.(Also drawn, admittedly, but this was the stratum Scotland was moving in then. The world champions could not get by them)
Sorry to go on and on. As I've said, your blog is good. Can I join in as a contributor? I can write some really smashing little pieces, when I'm concentrating. I've won prizes for them and everything.
I live local and I'd be no trouble.

iLL Man said...

Hello Anon. Beat Poetry? Interesting............I have a slightly disjointed way of writing, not always 100% coherent I suppose.

As for contributions, alas, no. This is a one man band I'm afraid. What I can recommend is that you hit this link


This will set you on the way to starting yr own blog. In all, it takes about half an hour to do and can be updated as little or as often as you wish.


ill man