Third Lanark Athletic Club was founded in 1872 as the football club attached to the 3rd Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers, a military unit of volunteers like several that were established during the Napoleonic Wars.
They were based in Strathbungo, in southern Glasgow.
The decision to set up a football club of their own was made after several soldiers had experienced the Scottland v England games at Hamilton Crescent, Glasgow.
A meeting was announced by means of a pamphlet and on 12 December 1872 the officers approved the establishment of the 3rd Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers Athletic Club.
The regimental colours red and blue with a prominent 3 on the left became the first official colours of the club.
During the early years they mainly played against neighbouring teams and only in a loose league context. This changed in 1890 when 3rd Lanarkshire RV AC became one of the founding members of the Scottish Football League, the colours had meanwhile evolved to red-white.
The warriors or redcoats as their nickname was in those early years had already won their first prize the year before: the Scottish Cup was conquered at the expense of Celtic.
The next years did not bring further success for the military team and it was only after the team became more professional and was renamed to Third Lanark AC that the successes came as well. They won their first national title in 1904, the cup again in 1905 and the competitive Glasgow cup in 1903, 1904 and 1909.
Part of becoming more professional was also the purchase of a new stadium to replace their then home of Cathkin Park.
In 1903, Hampden Park was bought from Queens Park (Queens Park was to move to the new, and current, Hampden Park) and renamed New Cathkin Park.
The years before the outbreak of the First World War were unsuccessful, the Hi-Hi’s (the nickname given to them by the Hi-Hi-Hi chants in the stands) found themselves in the boring reality of mid table finishes.
This did not change much during and after the war and after avoiding the relegation twice, in 1925 they couldn’t avoid it a third time.
Third Lanark would mainly manifest themselves as an “elevator” team until 1935. There were promotions in 1928, 1931 and 1935. Relegations in 1929 and 1934.
In 1935 the Thirds finally seemed like they could once again establish themselves in the highest Scottish division until the second world war broke out and the competition was cancelled.
After the war Third Lanark remained, without much success, in the first division until they relegated again in 1952.
It would take 4 long years before they made it back to the highest level and again they mainly managed mid table finishes.
Third Lanark would have one more season of greatness: in 1960-61 and thanks to the “Scarlet” goal machine of Goodfellow, Hilley, Harley, Gray and McInnes. The club finished third and scored over a 100 goals.
That season turned out to be an anomaly, the next one the club dropped to 11th place and in the 1964-1965 season the Hi-His relegated for the last time.
After two seasons in the second division, the dream of ever returning to their former glory finally bursted, the last match of the 1966-1967 season was a humiliating 5-1 defeat against Dumbarton. Some hectic months followed with stories of constant problems and infighting between players, between players and management, of corruption and financial mismanagement and after an investigation by the Scottish Board of Trade, the club was declared bankrupt and disappeared from the Scottish league after almost 100 years.
For many, the then chairman of Thirds remains the big culprit, although it has to be said that Third Lanark had cashflow problems for decades.
Bill Hiddleston was a glass wholesaler and had set his sights on the grounds of Cathkin Park for quite some time.
Hiddleston was a strange figure who publicly was as stingy as they come: for example, the players could not train in the evening because he refused to turn on the floodlights and he tried to circumvent the rule that a new ball had to be used for every game by repainting old balls.
At the same time, through mismanagement and financial manipulation, it is said he caused the club to go bankrupt so that houses could be built on Cathkin Park and he killed off every rescue operation that was set up by refusing to sell his share in the club.
However, the plan was thwarted by the Glasgow City Council which refused to grant a building permit after the bankruptcy and classified Cathkin Park as a park area.